My mum sends me articles from newspapers - I carry them in their brown envelope in my handbag and pull them out to read when I have to wait in queues or when the person I am meeting hasn't yet arrived at the cafe or the pub and I don't want to look like I've been stood up - they're very useful for that.
They usually concern books or films, or the English language, or the changing face of feminism, or the state of community values in the face of virulent capitalism. And sometimes they are about the beauty of the English countryside. You see, I'm sure my mother is trying to lure me back to Blighty and so the articles she sends are resolutely positive.
If she doesn't win me back with brilliant writing ('the land of the lawnmower' is as good a description of suburbia as any I have read), it will be with nostalgia for the inimitable scenery and the quintessential sound of the dawn chorus, as in this bucolic column by Mike McCarthy, part of which I have copied below (follow the link to read the full article):
"I live in the suburbs; I live in a land of neat gardens, estate agents' boards, car ports, walked dogs, lawnmowers, endlessly similar houses and nothing much happening, a land which my generation, the baby boomers, excoriated as the epitome of boring and sell-out (in songs such as Pete Seeger's 'Little Boxes'), a land which no one would ever describe as resplendent; yet the dawn chorus transforms it entirely.
"Like the visits of Father Christmas or the Big Friendly Giant, it takes place when most of us are asleep and so we miss it, and I feel as if in the last few weeks I have discovered a secret: that even the land of the lawnmower can approach perfection, and that in the shower of birdsong cutting through the silence, the stillness and the great bursting light overhead, for a brief half hour of transformation, even suburbia can become a place of wonder."