Politics 4

There were 3 knighthoods announced yesterday and one of them was the man who I suspected was the young lieutenant helping me and the Wrens ‘in Algiers’. I’ve not come across him yet – now I’ve seen an uptodate photograph in the press I’m not sure I want to (it made me feel very old) pompous and dull – and he was a very lighthearted type.

I was rung up about 10 days ago by our national moral guardian who runs a body called the Council for Protection of Moral Standards, or some such – wanting me to go and see a film called ‘The Streetwalker’ in order to complain and get it referred back to the censors who she thought had achieved a new low in laxity. I went and was left with some distinctly pornographic memories! So I duly wrote an indignant letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs and sent copies of it to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The Minister hasn’t answered but I heard from both the others (it is after all Election Year). As the PM is one of the most offensive politicians I have ever seen I’m not sure I shall be voting this year.

There was a snidey little piece at the bottom of the paper one day saying a shot had been heard coming from the Russians’ quarters in the village. It finished by stating, somewhat pointedly I thought, ‘Later 12 athletes were seen leaving their quarters each carrying a large portmanteau’. You can imagine the grizzly conclusion I came to !!!!!

Sportsmen with portmanteaus

But by all the news in the Guardian and what gets into our daily it sounds as though you may be having the central heating cut off by now and life outside getting grimmer every day. Poor old England sounds as though she is just about falling to bits what with the strike and Rhodesia and Ulster – and today the last minute doubts over the Common Market bill in Parliament.

From this distance Heath and Co. look pretty inefficient – though I don’t envy him the job, even if I could then afford his yacht!

With the latest shootings by white Rhodesians near Salisbury, X will be worried for her sister, reprisals always seem to follow. I get quite sick with all the brutality and violence everywhere, and with all this build up of weapons for someone will trigger off the holocaust at some point; there seems nothing individuals can do about it. I don’t think I came out of the Joan of Arc mould.

I was amazed by the change of tone in this letter about her feeling re Rhodesia. In her last she said it was all blown up out of proportion and no one bothered with politics etc. In this one she says her sister is having shooting lessons and they never go out without a gun, and there have been raids nearby, but they don’t want to leave unless they have to etc. etc.

Ill judged comments 3

I don’t remember judging her on this or anything else but could have suggested she made up her mind which was difficult with boyfriends in tow. If people tell me about their troubles I think silence is condoning. If I’m supposed to say Yes Sir, No Sir, I’d rather not be involved. Did she complain to you? I have more things to cope with than worry anymore on that score tho’.

Our party for the young gang was Tuesday. I’ve not recovered yet – 24 and us! …All went well except X practically threw them out half an hour earlier than they’d been invited for – two people came to collect young and he got muddled! on top of me telling someone their daughter was definitely not at our party when they rang up when she was sitting 2 yards away from me. I had some explaining to do the next morning. I was afraid she would be on the mat as to just where she was!

Pause of over an hour while X calls – she’s a bit dangerous as she’s a bit (quite a bit!) deaf and a terrific gossip – the combination produces libelous remarks!

Coming as he has from a rather liberal state school to a fairly conservative private school he’s objecting to calling the teachers ‘Sir’ – for a variety of very good reasons I might say! I don’t feel very happy giving him the full guff about respecting his elders and betters as his tutor is a complete twit! I’ve suggested that he go and ask his headmaster why this form of address is still considered appropriate when no one else in the country uses it. Should be interesting!

My opinion, uncharitable and unchristian etc etc, is that they have fled her manipulation and deviousness and need to control them.

She was talking to an acquaintance at a party the other day who commented that she never wears wraparound skirts as ‘they really make one look like the back of a bus’. X was wearing her rather snazzy homemade wrap-around skirt! Oh well, a very cuddly bus she is too!

A cuddly bus



Nuisances of life 5

Re the cricket lady – I asked a member of Lords who said that he was inundated with requests and suggests her bosses should give her an introduction.

I’ve spent more time at the Accident and Emergency Department at the local hospital this year than I have during the whole of the rest of my life! The staff there are getting to know me quite well, having extracted splinters from hands after I snapped a twig the wrong way, removed a huge cyst from the top of my leg which was the result of being butted by a horned sheep, and treated me for Erysipelas which is a disease that everyone took great delight in telling me that pigs get. (I got this as a result of one of our stable doors slamming into the back of my heel in a sudden gust of wind, and very nasty it was, too!)

I was cleaning out a much overgrown corner of the garden near the road, and lo and behold, another air-letter from her somewhat the worse for the depredations of worms? mice? or other paper-eaters but still for the most part readable. I suspect a pair of sparrows who have active designs on our letter box – some days they are encouraged by the postie’s deliveries of paper to use it as a loo (admittedly most of our mail deserves no better), and some days they seem intent on building. I think it must have been one of the latter days, when they started operations by clearing the ground!

How about a weekend towards the end of August/ beginning September? I am hoping that by then it will be possible to get out in the garden without being surrounded by 100/200 buzzing flies madly circling round your head! To avoid being driven mad I have devised a net bag in which I intend to bury my head entirely! X says people will think it odd – if they are rude enough to look over my hedge they can think what they like, and anyhow my shouts of fury and slapping noises must have alarmed them already!!

Protection against flies


I can well understand how difficult it must be for you to get around to letter writing at all, with your work, study, club and just ‘living’. Eating and cleaning are dreary chronic essentials I find!

How very irritating about the phone [number of new landline being in the middle of a bank of numbers for local maternity unit]. We have the same number as the vet only his involves dialling 2 first. Nearly every day someone starts off, ‘If I brought Phroo-phroe down, could you put him to sleep?’ etc.



Purchases 2

[Letter dated 1944] I understand that when I was away unwell a fortnight ago you kindly called and discussed with a colleague of mine a Service of silver Spoons and Forks, and I am writing to let you know that I have been keeping this Old English Service until I heard from you on the matter. As you know, they are at present engraved with a Crest but which of course can be satisfactorily removed and the Service restored to a practically new condition. The Service comprises:

  • 12 Table Forks
  • 6 Table Spoons
  • 12 Teaspoons
  • 6 Coffee Spoons
  • 12 Dessert Forks
  • 12 Dessert Spoons
  • 4 Sauce Ladles
  • 1 Chutney Spoon
  • 1 Pickle Fork.
    • (Total weight 102 oz) and the price is £70.

I shall be glad to hear from you at your convenience. I am, Madam, Your obedient servant, [signed]

The idea of 4 pairs of shoes being ‘restrained’ and ‘some useful black skirts’ made me think I must rethink my buying efforts before it’s too late to enjoy it!

Black skirts and shoes

‘This is a file for you to practice with.Move the cursor down a few lines and start typing – remember that WordStar always has help available – just press F1 whenever you need assistance.’

These are the very first words I have attempted to write with my new computer, and its word processing programme. My eye was taken by a Commodore with a large (40Mb) memory which was on special but I have resisted it and have ordered an Amstrad with a mono screen, and a 30Mb hard disk drive. I can’t tell you with what trepidation I am writing, as with each stage of using the thing! I have actually had it since last Friday, but there have been certain interruptions, so that all I have done so far is work through the first three lessons of the Amstrad tutorial disk and read the (very much clearer) book with the word processing disks.

X boldly asked for a cash discount as it would cost the shop 5% if we paid by card (which I couldn’t in fact do without multiplying the limit on my card by ten) and he agreed straight away, which I hadn’t really expected.

I bought some heavenly wide striped wool to make skirts for the girls with plain thin silk beautifully matched for shirts, stuff for 3 caftans for me +++ – I know I’m mad and can’t think when I’ll make them all up.

I fell for a $175 4 piece suit. It was reduced to $129 and fitted beautifully, except the trews were 3″ too long. I explained to the buyer I’d really only wanted a cardigan, and could he reduce it any more, and in the end he brought it down to $120 and told me quite good humouredly I was a hard bargainer!

X phoned t’other day to say there was a wonderful sale at a furnishing material shop that was closing down – I didn’t want anything but thought it churlish not to even look – silly me. I bought 46 1/2 yards of material + 10 yds curtaining for Y and 2 made up curtains for her.

Ageing 6

Did X tell you he’s had tennis elbow? Sawing, I think. He had a cortisone shot which nearly drove him up the wall but it cleared it quickly until undoing a coffee jar set it off again. I think it’s made him realise there’s a lot of heavy work that won’t get easier here – sad.

dangerous coffee jar

Old Mrs X who’s now at a nursing home at $10 a day [obviously a big cost at the time!] came over for the birthday partly. Poor old duck bursts into tears on the slightest thing and her daughter-in-law gets so cross with her. I think she’d far rather die and the latter keeps saying ‘she’s revoltingly well’ – poor dear. When I’m incapable of looking after myself I trust I will be allowed to retire quickly and gracefully.

Life here 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.

Did I ask you before if you ever knew the X family – the old man is here and was a great friend of your uncle years ago. Alas, he’s awfully nice, but has lost most his memory.

I keep remembering that one friend’s mother started a sheep farm when she was 50, and was still going to sheep breeders conferences when she was in her 80s (and when her friends were moving into nursing homes). She is now in a home, and I think her memory has gone. However she would be over 90 now.

One of the things that I think of is that I don’t have any children, and who will look after me like X has her father? I do have nephews and a niece who would probably do the legal things for me when and if necessary. But it does look like a lonely sort of time as an old person if you are housebound or less active than you were in younger days. I keep hoping that as I am a baby boomer and there will be lots of us, there may be other old and lonely single people to keep me company.

Last year she had a stroke. Went in a hospital and then in a rehabilitation programme in an elderly home. But it did not work out. Her balance was gone and her dementia gets worse. Now after almost a year she had another small stroke, and it is difficult to talk with her. We believe this is almost the end. She is 88 and it is all right for her and for us that the end is coming.

Everything seems to disappear! I am now in the nursing home. I will get in touch – please don’t forget me.

After death/news of death 3

X’s best friend died recently – she really wanted to go but it is still hard for X.

It was sad to hear about X’s death though I do realise of course that he was not the easiest man to live with.

X died the day after we left to come here. We said our goodbyes the day before as we both kind of knew. It didn’t lessen the shock any, even though it was expected.

It was good of you to write and tell me of X’s passing. It was a very sad piece of news. He had a long, happy and productive life and that must be some consolation to you all – I remember him with great affection. I hope she will be able to face her future life without him – it has to go on, but it’s never the same again. It’s awful having no one to chat to – that’s what I have never got used to.

X saw that the old relation died recently and said bravely but boldly that she would write to you (to save her writing direct!) to tell your Papa when next you wrote, as he was in faint contact with the old girl as you know. Eventually she admitted that she hadn’t actually got around to putting pen to paper or ringing up and I rashly said I would do it for her – and then left it sitting around for days long. So now I am settling down to do some letters and clear my conscience, and if you could remember pass the news on it would be appreciated .

I am sorry your friend died. Of course, if she was a good age these things are not unexpected. But it is an end of an era, and there is the sadness with the finality of it.

I was so sorry to hear of your mother’s sickness and dying. It is a hard time to go through, the best comfort is to be thankful she has no more suffering and problems. I sometimes wish my mother could see something then I realise she is far better off and happier where she is anyhow!

How is it that I only wept once or twice over my own mother’s illness and took the departure stoically, but am in floods now? Old Age perhaps.


My brother had an accident with a tractor on his farm. …he was heavily sedated and for nine weeks from the date of the accident his life hung by a thread. While there were times when I was encouraged and thought he would recover, he eventually passed away. We will never know how much he suffered during this time as after the resuscitation a trachea was inserted and he was unable to communicate verbally but seemed to comprehend right to the end. I thought it a cruel procedure but it was intended to be a short term life saving device.

It’s so depressing the number of deaths we’ve had amongst family and friends this last 12 months.

Celebrations 4

I won’t give all details of X’s wedding, I may get carried away! but she had long white dress, veil, silver and white ribbons – the lot, and Y’s 2 little girls in ‘Edwardian’ dresses sent from England as bridesmaids.

Many thank yous – the flowers are gorgeous – they arrived whilst we were having dinner – by a bearded young man full of apologies they were so late but he was marrying the florist on Saturday and she had to go and be fitted for her dress and and and! We were doubly pleased we’d decided to dine at home because a) we’d been so extravagant and (b) we were fixed to play bridge with different partners at the club and would have had one eye on the clock (and t’other up the chimney). As it was we had a luscious meal of avocado pear, fillet steak, creamed potatoes and broad beans and sauce followed by ice with raspberries and cream – super.

He’s been saving for 2 years for it he says – a dinner party for 20 at the most expensive place. Neither his parents or we could budge him to postpone it or move it to Y which would have more than halved the cost. The dinner was superb – wine flowed, followed by cigars, liqueur coffee in enormous brandy glasses and special birthday cake. It must have cost every penny of $500. I gather after we left at 12 the singing got a trifle bawdy – Elizabethan songs or no, they were asked to desist!

We went off to the old town hall for what had been described as a concert. It was in fact a unique variety show. There were only five turns, of which one was also the compere. First a tapdancer, very professional. Then the compere himself. He did a turn with a handpuppet of a grey rabbit, which was extremely skillful, and he also got a girl of about eight from the audience to ‘help’ him, whom he treated with great sympathy, and they did a card trick between them, which the puppet nearly gave away. There were two men who did a fast moving turn with a variety of normal string puppets (though with heaven knows how many strings each); a man with a harmonica and a turbaned conjuror with an exotic-looking girl assistant who got stabbed through the throat, and elevated to the horizontal in midair without visible means of support and the rest of the time danced and weaved about the stage to the rather loud music – both no doubt designed to take our attention off the sleight of hand! It was all jolly good clean fun!

the conjuror

We had an ‘elevenses’. Actually the first people arrived at 11.15 a.m. and the last left at approx 10.15 p.m. after being told it was time to go (hints hadn’t worked!) It was a fabulous day – hot and no wind and everyone drank like fish but no one seemed to get sozzled cos they all are like horses too! We had about 25 adults plus 10 children here and got through nearly 4 dozen home brew, 7 bottles wine, 20 litres soft drink and a similar quantity of fruit juice!

Children 5

It was very nice to see them but I confess that 48 hours is about as much as I can take. I do find it very wearing to be addressed in the same stentorian roar that X uses, but with a great deal more persistence by Y. I suppose it’s a mixture of being small, and the third, together with going to school, that makes the habit.

[and more later on the roar] He makes most of his remarks as though addressing the foc’sle from the bridge in half a gale – perhaps he should have a course in reading poetry or something to break down his steady monotone roar! But I was impressed with his farewell – thanking me for coming, hoping I had a good trip, sending love to Grannie and so on – all, I think, quite off his own bat.

We went to a pre-Christmas party at a house with a pool and I told the boys to wait till I got outside. Well they didn’t, they jumped straight in. When I got outside 2 minutes later X was sitting in someone’s lap, blue in the face – he’d sunk straight to the bottom and fortunately someone saw him on the way down for the second time and hauled him out. After comforting him and thinking he wouldn’t go near water again he climbed straight back in and played around happily at the edge or with me for close on an hour!

She told her mother at lunch time that ‘this morning my news at school was that mummy had tidied my room’!

He’s a very proud member of the school’s ‘bantam’ rugby team. The school took part in a tournament about 50 miles away last weekend. I took 4 of the boys down and was appointed team manager for some obscure reason. My serious application to the task of training, warming up and in-game sideline advice achieved little but a sore throat and much hilarity from the other parents – we lost one game, won one game and were knocked out after the first series of games.

We are hastily thinking up some games for X’s 4th birthday party, which is about 20 kids from her pre-prep school. I think we shall be mad and exhausted at the end of it!! They have to be very simple games as X is not so bright at picking up a new idea and is also not the world’s most sterling loser so we shall probably have tears – and Y just doesn’t bother if he feels like wrecking it anyhow.

His mother can’t do a thing with X now – he just says ‘no no no’ and tells her not to shout at him!!

angry toddler

X has now produced two teeth – she is as unfriendly as ever – I don’t touch her if I can help it – she screams blue murder. Fortunately her mother has a 16 year old sitter who lives opposite and she’s the one person X accepts beside her parents so now they leave the children at home usually in an evening which is much better.

Church/religion 4

She seemed to be a bit paranoiac about a thing called EST (Erhard Seminar Training) which sounded a bit like the Moonies without any mention of God; she seemed determined that some of her husband’s friends who had been captured by this system, if that is the right word for it, were going to drag him into it. Their friend certainly didn’t seem to think much of EST methods of brainwashing, in order to ‘build you up’ with whatever it is they teach. But I found it difficult to discover exactly what that was!

Their son was there, now 23, quite brilliant, but got himself into a state that I can only see a psychiatrist getting him out of. He left the C of E and joined the Assembly of God and was very involved and talked in the extravagant way they have which embarrassed me. Somehow he feels they have let him down, and he’s completely turned into himself.

[re a new vicar] What is worse a whole lot of the older people have stopped going to church as they don’t like his charismatic approach and it is generally thought he doesn’t care for anyone over 50. You can’t please everyone, and he’s wonderful with the children and most of the young couples, and the Sunday School has really bloomed with him, but the older ones he’s put off are the ones who could perhaps afford to come up with $500 a family which he hopes for [to fund the planned building project].

We had a very heavy dose from the Word – my fellow retiree has fundamentalist leanings, and in addition to ramming them home proceeded to illustrate from the problems of abortion, sex education in schools and nuclear threat. ‘Has he covered all his hobby horses?’ whispered X as he finished – and indeed I think those are the main ones. His method of dealing with the nuclear threat is typical. 2 Peter 3.10 ff, he says, obviously refers to nuclear war and its results, tied up with the Return of the Lord. So not to worry or do anything to prevent it coming about. End of problem.

We have a small boy in our Sunday School who regularly comes up with classics. Doing the Ascension last week he produced this drawing. When asked what the funny black things were, he said scathingly that it was Jesus going up past the birds!

the Ascension

I could scream – they’re talking about ‘… many shopping days to Xmas’ already – it means the whole thing becomes a drag and chore – so sad – the other day was when a disc jockey came up with ‘Only … many days to Xmas – God forbid’!!!!

We had a true American to preach last Sunday morning who won a prize from the Order of St Luke (an Anglican society aiming to encourage the healing ministry of the church). He boomed on for 15 minutes (not giving any precise examples from the vast experience X said he had) and ended up by telling us how to get a ‘blessing on our bodies’. The method was not in fact to ask God for it but to ‘concentrate on the indwelling Intelligence’ (or some such phrase) and then to relax each part of you separately speaking the Intelligence in your eyes (for instance) and saying ‘Eyes, you have never seen better’ and so on. When he got to ‘Stomach, you’re doing a grand job – keep it up (or was it down), Stomach’ I nearly burst out laughing, and alternatively felt like walking out in protest against the nearest thing to the Christian Science heresy I’ve heard from an Anglican pulpit in a long time. But in the evening we had Y and he went on for half an hour and kept me awake and attentive every minute of it (which is high praise indeed, as you know).

Employment hassles 3

We laughed at X’s bagful of letterheads [with too many typing errors]. Y said she never thought of actually removing the evidence like that.

What great scandals and excitements seem to be happening in the jobs and I agree that it is always fascinating when any situation builds up and I hate leaving before I have found out the happy (or otherwise) solution. If you have a lunchtime free perhaps we could have another meeting and I could hear a bit more! I know the difficulty of settling a date in advance, but with our peculiar commitments on both sides it seems a bit necessary. Fitting in my 3 employees and your 2, AND the garden is really quite a problem – but I haven’t been up for ages and I did so enjoy our last meeting.

The firm also occupies a good deal of my time, but a bit less now as I have cut it down with the improvement in the weather. We have a dopey secretary who really never wakes up at all until after lunch, but is awfully good fun when she does. Her mind is set on her organ and flute and playing in their ‘group’, so work gets scant attention. 2 friends of hers also help out, but luckily they are slightly more alive and do achieve a little work too. I am really rather shocked at the casual way they wander in first thing in the morning, which should be 8.55 according to the boss and is 9.30 for the secretary – and that’s early for her!

Well, I took a job at an export company, no import, and I was in the dental section. Afraid all the dental equipment and sets of teeth about the place finally got to me and I left.

too many teeth

Last week we had a ‘getting near to completion’ celebration on the dam. The whole thing went quite well. I got lumbered with a bloke from the Herald who seemed prepared to risk life and limb to get a good picture of the dam. By the time I finally got to the ‘do’ I was a shaken wreck. However I did get a mention in the write-up for my efforts! This could prove to be a grave political error as the report totally ignored both my boss and his speech!

School music festival is also imminent and there are still 31 little dears waiting for me every day! Luckily no longer 34 as we have a new class this term and they took 4 of my kids out. I’ve had one return from another school since. Even 3 less helps though – especially those ones, in some respects!

I realise that probably I was depressed for years. You just don’t realise it. Being out of a negative work environment for some time now has had its positive benefits.

Perhaps it is something to do with being got rid of from the workplace where I worked so hard, or perhaps it is something to with facing what someone from my singing group called ‘the long autumn’. You sort of realise that you don’t have the time or energy to start life afresh, or if you do, the horizon before which you have to have achieved whatever it is you’ve decided upon, is much nearer to you than it used to be. It is very sobering.

Our offices are going to be closed for more days than usual over this Christmas/New Year period but I’m not too happy about it. It is too busy a time to get away or to shop or to get anything done by workmen so for me it is a waste of leave. However, I will clean out some cupboards, try to discard as much as possible and generally chill out.

I was taking the ‘devotions’ for the Anglican Association of Women’s monthly meeting. I can’t think why they have to have any devotions but haven’t quite the courage to say so. Not that it would make any difference if I did – X would say ‘My dear fellow, that’s an interesting point of view – let’s toss it around’ – and ten minutes later when nothing had been decided he would say ‘Fine – that’s fixed then. Next business’ and be quite hurt if I said ‘What’s fixed?’ (Do you detect a trace of bitterness? Well, it did happen over 2 different things at the staff meeting yesterday.)