Sex appeal and influence

I think he is very swade [sic] by her influance [sic] as to what they do with their time but love seems to do that to people. [Spelling not a strong point!]

I wrote and told her my memories of her mother – I said how jealous we all were at her ability to attract every man that set eyes on her  …   (perhaps this had something to do with her refusing to write her memoir for the family saying there were so many things she’d done in her life that she wasn’t proud of and much regretted.) Actually I didn’t tell X her mother was not attractive to look at and very shy but had tremendous sex appeal! Infuriating for her sister as all her male friends were grabbed up…

We borrowed X’s ram yesterday. Y brought it for us. As he drove up all our ewes moved up to the gate and accorded him a great welcome which he reciprocated in a most definite manner before the truck had even driven off. Undoubtedly a randy ram. [One has to work out whether ‘he’ is the driver or the ram!!!]

I absolutely agree about X – she is a delight to talk to as one gets to know her and is so attractive. My dear, imagine meeting Y and her together and you can see how I sink into the ground!! And I am old and not feeling in the competitive age – it must be ghastly for plain Janes to meet a couple like that at a party, although both are really so nice but do look rather out of this world. Not that you have any reason for feeling like an elephant but they have some sort of mysterious poise that is defeating, and automatically makes the rest of us feel boringly dull.

plain Jane sinks into the ground

Operations

[Child’s new word – will all the staff being trained need an operation, I wonder?] Apprenticitis.

…a pleasant visit to X who was recovering from a hysterectomy; recovering very well actually, which she is putting down to using a couple of arnica tablets before and after the operation – she said it felt a lot better than when she had any of her Caesars.

I’ve had a series of operations, some major, most minor. I have more in prospect. It has left me rather weak and I have no idea when I shall be able to return to work.

One of my many symptoms, as yet undiagnosed, is that both hands are in an arthritic condition, still and painful. So you’ll understand that I can’t write at length.

X eventually ended up in Ward 3 of the District General Hospital, with the prospect of some mysterious cross between a replacement hip and a pin – it is a prosthesis of sorts and the houseman could only describe it to me as half a hip-joint, which sounds very queer. The surgeon is said to be clever but brusque and pretty unapproachable, but as long as he does it well we shall be happy.

I was thrown into confusion last week by the surgeon’s secretary offering me a bed this Friday! I will do a phone call when I am back with another new lens and all ready to see out life with just one more pair of glasses I imagine.

Cattaracts [sic] – Yes, both done now and spot on so far.

cattaracts

The surgeon is frightfully busy this summer I gather (what with a long holiday and such like!) and she seems to think it may have to be in about September if she misses June, but is resigning herself to this by degrees and it will be his verdict when she crawls in to see him at the beginning of next week – by then I hope she will be able to face the walk from the hospital car park to outpatients!!

House repairs & housekeeping

I was delighted to hear that your dry rot (caused by wetness) was really only wet rot (caused by intermittent dryness as well as wetness) – because the former really is bad news whereas wet rot, as I understand it, is not ‘malignant’, and can be cured reasonably easily provided they can find the source of the wet.

I have now engaged with X to come and build us a new fence along the bottom boundary, which will involve removal of the present compost enclosure. … So I must pull down the remains of the aviary, and remove most of the plants from that border for safekeeping until he has finished. Not, of course, that he is likely to start when he says – he never manages that – but just in case he’s nearly on time, we must be ready.

I’m glad the wood worm treatment is over, though perhaps even now not seeming quite a thing of the past. I was surprised they demanded as long as six weeks before you could cover it – but let’s hope that by then you will have been able to get the other jobs done which are essential… I am enclosing a bank draft as our contribution to getting your flat as you would like it. All these little men must be costing you a lot of money.

all these little men

Our building is all go now. The frame is up and the roof and weatherboards go on next week. The concrete block wall would probably withstand an explosion – it’s SOLID. We’re managing to afford a new kitchen while we’re about it… We’ll have a new wall oven and gas hob (our stove’s being decidedly temperamental – I think the thermostat’s broken!) We also have to have a new water heater… All this fits into the amount we’ve borrowed – on paper at least!

We’ve also bought an extractor fan for the stove hood. It’s not as strong as previous ones we’ve had and makes a bit of noise, but it does seem to get rid of the smells and steam, and we don’t need to have it on when we’re in there.

We have been having much attention given to our telephone. It went out of action a few weeks ago and we complained – and had a van here all day with a pleasant young man who seemed thoroughly confused at our wiring system (between our three phones and one outside bell) and eventually rigged a temporary wire over the top of the house as part of trying to reduce the buzzing in our ears. It didn’t do much for us. Then last week two men in a van turned up, and again stayed most of the day, plus a supervisor in a car for half an hour, and another van. They traced the whole thing, and went round muttering things like ‘the yellow is crossed with the blue’ and ‘there’s a groundswell on the red’ – and gave us another new line under the house instead of the one over the roof. They worked very hard even though it was raining most of the day – and eventually went away triumphant.

The friendly plumber came and estimated for a new basin. I inherited a cracked one where the old girl’s husband had had a seizure or something and dropped a heavy bottle from a short height into the basin. The nice plumber said cheerfully ‘Claim on insurance – they aren’t to know you didn’t do it’ which seems sensible but immoral! The roof man suggested the same so I see I have been missing out all these years on something everybody else does – no wonder the rates per year are so high now.

X has replaced the supply of drinking water we keep, last done 3 years ago, and I found my dried milk to be the same 3 years out of date.

He helped do a massive clear-up in the front garden and we packed the green bin to overflowing. I also collected oddments I wanted to get rid of to put outside the gate and almost all were taken – it’s a good idea: you’re invited to help yourself to anything you’d like and a van collects the rest. ‘They’ call it trash.

Our TV which we’d been saying was so good suddenly packed up and our nice repairman said a new ??? [part] would cost over $100. So we decided to do it now before the old one cost any more. That took all the morning – I’d phoned round getting prices so was able to knock them down $60 – X just can’t do it – I have no qualms – they obviously won’t lose on the deal.

I have been lucky through the coldest nights (so far) and haven’t frozen up – apart from one outlet from the bath which was my own fault as I knew the taps dripped and I forgot to jam the plug in securely after my bath. Fortunately I was able to face the damned snow and unstoppered it with a boiling kettle and a little wangling of the icicle that had formed (despite the protective bag of bracken put over the drain which was supposed to prevent the frost getting through!)

Encouragement

[Thanks to the people who sent these letters! All were lovely folk and sadly missed.]

[Quote from Unknown: A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.]

Thanks for the pictures – I am fascinated by them and wish I could do anything as interesting. Please, if it’s not too much trouble, could I have a photo of ‘Tribute to Mr. Campbell’ – I long to see it. I have a feeling that you are developing into quite an impressive artist and that you will soon get wider recognition.

This is to thank you again for the very great pleasure it was to me to meet you… It is a very long time since I have had such a happy afternoon, of so much interest and intense enjoyment… My interest and appreciation were so great that I actually felt a lifting of the weight of years – one of the hazards of extreme old age is a kind of creeping inertia and withdrawal from the present, and you have certainly thrust that aside for me. To see you again is something to look forward to.

creeping inertia

Do not NOT let other artists or critics disturb you – let them rabbit on – pick and choose that which you find of help and do your own thing… I don’t know what you are trying to achieve – be yourself !!!

I saw this gorgeous painting of irises of yours in the window. It really is lovely… When I went past the shop on my return there was a different picture in the window – lovely too of poppies! It seems to me your painting has developed enormously with fabulous colour. Why on earth do you have some people anti, I wonder. It is so refreshing to have flower paintings so full of life and colour which after all is the characteristic of flowers not the neat ladylike little bunches with most colour drained out of them.

Self-preservation

I’ve just had a visitation from our vicar – very pleasant but I just can’t take being prayed over in my sitting room. And saying no thank you – it doesn’t sound very friendly, but…

Reflecting on the theme of self-destructive behaviour – one of the frustrations and demoralisers for self-destroyers is that often those around them appear to (and do) ‘press on regardless’ because that seems to be the only way to prevent themselves being sucked into self-destruction too.

[Child of 7] Some people say ‘I wish all my dreams would all come true but I wouldn’t – I have some TERRIBLE dreams!’

We stayed there until the following Monday. On the whole the time was fun if one was able to ignore X who was utterly impossible for large chunks of the time; her skills at putting-down and misconstruction are becoming highly honed with age.

Are the satisfactions of your work worth the assaults on your health by all the germs that your patients cough, splutter, sneeze, blow and breathe in your face each day? (It’s a pity that you can’t enclose yourself in an armoured-glass cubicle equipped with a two-way microphone-loudspeaker, like the embassy enquiry desk here – but I can see that it would have drawbacks in the field of interpersonal relationships.)

We had an orgy of present opening somewhat overcast by the boys’ cub-master calling as he couldn’t manage the previous night – and staying for well over 2 hours when X made an inspired invitation to join us in a cup of tea before he went!

I have an inclination to have all my hair clipped off to see if it will grow back curly. X nearly had hysterics when I told her but I must do something to boost my morale!

Her ‘new’ Mini looks fine, in very good condition. It was good of her landlord to go round with her when she was looking. I fear car salesmen are a breed of crooks.

the jovial vicar

We wasted an afternoon at a Mothers’ Union affair on Saturday. She had to run, and produce beforehand, a lucky dip of grocery things and I went to support and buy. There were 9 members present and me !!! The chairwoman had done no advertising and instead of making about £100 we eventually cleared about £30, which was wonderful in itself from so few, but useless towards their annual expenses. It was quite the dreariest 2 or 3 hours that you ever met and I got landed with running the raffle, but the helpers had already taken their tickets and nobody else came, so there was little to do! We had tea and retreated with endless goodies that we didn’t really want.The Vicar was very jovial and full of long and pointless stories and had to be avoided at all costs and Mrs. was full of talk about her runner beans and the trials of her Brussel sprouts so it was all fairly cheesing. The only good thing was the chocolate cake we had for tea! But the endless sandwiches of tinned salmon and corned beef which some earnest member had cut went quite disregarded and I don’t know if there were any takers to buy them at the end as I left just before the end. It was suggested that I should join but I really think it is to be avoided at all costs!! With luck it will die a natural death before I get around to doing so.

 

Holidays 2

In April X and I went to the Hong Kong Sevens and really enjoyed the excitement and ‘foreign-ness’ of H.K. X travelled home from there but I went on to Sydney and had 10 days with Y. It was a wonderful holiday and has definitely given me ‘itchy feet’.

X has been on her travels nearly a year now – current trekking in Nepal area – I think – having seen a lot of India and worked with Mother T. in Calcutta. Her money is holding out as she’s been living so cheaply.

I went the real tourist route, and X took me to see Niagara Falls. I was overwhelmed with the immense power and volume of the thing – and it wasn’t over commercialised with hotdog stands and all that – a pleasant surprise.

aching posterior

I finally made a short trip to Lesotho in March, and even then it was quite cold. I went about on a pony for a few days, except when I just had to get down and use my legs to ease the aching posterior…I later went to Madagascar again and met up with my friend who is still living with his Tandroy family in the south… I caught up on the complicated family tree and visited the old man who sacrifices zebu at ceremonies who is now over 100. My Mozambique travels were only in the south… animals sighted included several baboon troops along the road from Chimoio to Tete, and a hippopotamus not much below eye level in the Buzi estuary whilst travelling along it in an overloaded boat.

I have never been to Durham so a friend and I are going to look at the Cathedral and have lunch! In April I’m going back to Skye for a week – before the midges arrive.

Care home 2

Tomorrow I’m going to X for a cataract op on the second eye and there for a couple of nights. After that I hope to drive better but doubt I shall dare take on the motorway. Impossible to enjoy Y [care home] but it’s a huge relief to have Z [partner] reasonably well looked after by exceptionally nice overworked carers… Sorry such a dull letter but life here is fairly limited!

The VIP went to our old people’s home. No one seemed to recognise him, so he approached one of the more alert-looking old dears sitting around the walls. ‘Do you know who I am?’ he asked. ‘No, dear,’ replied the resident, ‘but don’t worry. Just ask at the desk: they’ll tell you.’

The Mayor’s visit

X has Alzheimer’s and, thankfully, is blissfully unaware of his wife’s death. He’s as happy as Larry in the nursing home, and isn’t, thank goodness, at all difficult to look after. He loves having visitors, especially when they bring him sweets and biscuits!

Life in this place becomes more and more of a horror story – about 90% of the inmates senile and the rest have given up interest in much other than their health and the food. Lucky old X jumped ship in good time to avoid all this… Awful as old age is I can escape into books, libraries and pubs – so far!

His memory is alas extremely short-term but it helps in that he no longer remembers long enough to worry.

I hate the story about your aunt – old age is terrible. Our turn is coming and I’m dreading it.

Herewith new address – a sort of old people’s home with extra nursing care. Rather a drear thing but the lesser of two evils as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cope with X’s problems here. We are there on a month’s trial so may well get chucked out as X is not good at cooperating with nurses.

Oh dear – Xmas – what a bore – I can imagine paper hats at the home. My bed-sit in the home is 12×12 so you can imagine I can’t take much other than a bed and 2 chairs!

I am around elderly people a lot and although most of them are interesting and wonderful I sometimes find myself thinking about old age. I have had some absolutely hysterical lunches with X, when I have visited her at the [care home]. It really makes you think when you see how people are treated in these homes and the amount they cost is horrendous.