Church/religion 5

We had a pleasant evening last Sunday at the Cathedral when they were saying goodbye to X. I can’t say I got anything out of his sermon any more than the four years I heard him every week! – but it was nice to see so many old friends.

I asked the boys what they’d give up for Lent the other day and after much debate one said he’d give up getting cross so I said, ‘Are you sure, that sounds like hard work’. Whereupon the other one said, ‘That’s a good idea, I’ll give up hard work’!

I’ve just had my grandfather’s Bible rebound. I got it in two halves from two aunts. Inside it is inscribed ‘Presented to X on his 25th Birthday from his Father-in-Law with a request that the Contents may often be perused, with a Spiritual Blessing resulting thereby’.

It’s a sort of inter-denominational monthly do… the meeting over – ran for thirty five minutes – mostly a man with a fantastic gift of the gab, but some queer ideas, I thought, talking on a passage of what sounded like Habbakuk – and then his wife (50 if a day) got up to croon one of these gospel songs, which she did three times over in a voice of warm treacle – really revolting, after which they got everyone to sing it with her still leading, about fifteen times, interspersed with ‘altar calls’ (if you know what they are) and exhortations to go to another meeting on Sunday afternoon etc.

Another of our ewe-lambs went off and got dipped last Sunday with the Pentecostalists – full of joy and quite unrepentant for not having consulted his clergy first. Very trying, these individualists!

Last week we had our own pet visiting preacher. He has turned out to be an admirable speaker, thank the Lord, and in spite of my well-known propensity for sleeping when other clergymen talk, I have listened to him every day and twice most days without once dropping off! Perhaps it helps that by and large I agree with him on almost every subject he has talked about.

We spent nearly all our time shopping apart from a 4 hour trip round Hong Kong Island – and a service on Sunday morning which I walked to and found a church which was almost a duplicate of a Victorian one just off Queens Road in Weybridge – so Anglican and so completely un-Asian that it was too pathetic to be funny.

We get little snatches of news about the row going on in UK over the ordination of women, the latest of which is the ex Bishop of London’s threat to lead a party of priests to join the Roman church; or to form a new C of E under the Pope – I’m not quite sure which. I think he must be crazy: I have a book of his from which I guess that no way could he accept the sort of intellectual discipline that Rome exerts.

[Poor attendance] seems to have been afflicting the House Group I go to on Thursday evenings. Maybe it has just been the very long and beastly winter which we are emerging from, but quite often the group only produces about five people although in theory we have a membership of about fifteen. Personally I think it is also because we don’t have a sufficiently worthwhile programme, and waste a lot of time drinking tea, not having met until 7.15 p.m. so we don’t actually start doing anything until about 8.30 apart from chatting. And when we do start, our capacity for chasing red herrings is quite something, so we never, but never actually get through any programme – and often take three weeks to cover what other groups apparently cover in one session. However, as long as they enjoy it – !

The group

Significant other 5

I’ve fixed for one of our more eccentric friends to come to supper. She’s a sculptress and farms 5 acres on her own in a slap happy way. She had a husband but said, ‘Oh, I got rid of him’!!!

Did I tell you X’s elder daughter is divorcing her husband – with 3 young she won’t have an easy time – but she married him against all opposition.

I’m not sure if X is going to remove Y from your evil influence or disapproves of the flat or hopes to accommodate her himself??!! Maddening if he does for any reason, just when you’re settled.

X had another school dance on Friday – put on by the 6th form. The dreary fat Y’s mama made up a party of 6 and had them to dinner first. Evidently not one of the boys asked any of the girls to dance and Y only danced with her brother who’d sneaked in without a ticket. However X was cheerful enough as she’d danced all the evening with another boy she’d ‘seen on the train’!

Have heard from X that her daughter’s husband has died – sounds a blessing to me – but she may be v. sad.

They are in the middle of a horrible divorce and he still suffers from depression. I’m sure he will recover when the pressure and rows are over.

His daughter has come unstuck from the reputedly very rich man she was engaged to last year, apparently losing the contents of her bank account in the process. He was discovered to have a record for fraud etc.

X and I have excelled ourselves again. We went into a JUNIOR bridge tournament last week and, yes you’ve guessed, we were bottom again!! He put a chauvinistic pig rhyme on my desk just afterwards:

‘There was an old man who said dash, Why am I and my wife both so rash? If she called with reserve, There’d be room for my verve, in playing the hand with panache.’


She has asked me in front of him if I’ll give him his birthday dinner as they can’t afford another party!!!

Said friend has since died, leaving her very boorish husband much lost and realising for the first time what a wonderful wife she was.

But when she died…

I had a hard time writing to X and put it off for as long as I could. I fear the change of relationship from having short bursts of fun living whilst he played hookey from home and reality, to her being home and reality, and he with an added guilt complex on top of it, might prove to be rather an anticlimax. She’d do better to close the book on the past 12 years and start afresh with her other pursuer. I’d have no sympathy with Y if she did!!! (I didn’t actually SAY all this when I wrote!!)

It was amusing your remarks about X’s man. When I told Y they’d got engaged, she remarked, ‘not to that drip, she must be mad’! I do hope for her sake you’re both wrong. She sounds so nice, and deserves better.

Silver linings

X and I played together at the Bridge Club (my appointed partner most timely lost a relative-by-marriage at an advanced age and just the right moment) and came second, which pleased us greatly.

I realised that my brand new small case had 2 holes – because of the weight of my shopping it had dragged on the ground, so presto I hitched a lift for the rest of the way – very thankful to my Guardian Angel!

Today they have gone back to eat the remains of the feast, except that X can’t eat much having been in hospital last week; her colon is inflamed and must be on a diet before they operate! She is none too pleased, but she has lost 3 pounds in 2 days, and was glad to tell me.

I’ve had 3 happenings. I thought I’d lost my great great uncle’s ring and spent a morning hunting for it – then was just going to go out when I thought I’d better ask our neighbour as we’d had tea with them and there it was under the couch I was sitting on. Joy. Then X collecting luggage and bits for our jaunt put his hand in the top of the linen-cum-everything cupboard and found the pair of glasses I’d lost some six months ago AND I had a phone call to say I’d won the raffle of an Aran knit cardigan.

We were doing some rush shopping and got back just as the traffic cop had ordered a tow away – he rushed to his bike and managed to cancel it just in time – so her ticket was $20 instead of $40 – she played the organ at a funeral the next day, she said it would just pay it!

I’ve got flu or something at the moment. About half the school is down with it so I suppose I would hardly miss getting it. It’s a blessing in disguise really cos they’ve had to cancel house drama which was going hopelessly anyway. I was going to be a headmaster in my play but I was terrible at it. That just leaves us with a musical evening, a bio/geog trip and market day – all of which I’ll probably miss (hopefully) at this rate.

The agent’s visit occasioned a certain amount of activity such as doing a clearance in the garage – which for the moment is startling (at least to me) in its orderliness!

I heard from X last week. She remarked that although it was easier to read my typing and I got more on the page, she felt she’d lost the spirit of adventure when reading my letters!

Handwriting v. type

Diet ideas

I’ve lost a bet with X to lose half a stone. I think I’ve put on 2 lbs and she, maddening child, has lost more than she set out to! This cold weather makes me want to eat more to stoke up, and last week’s bridge, or lack of it, didn’t help. I turned up all set to find my partner was already sitting with someone, she’d just failed to put our date in her programme. I was so cross I came home, bit all my nails off and then raided my tin of meringues and whipped lots of cream and ate no less than four!

He is on to something new in natural food, etc. and now his wife is on a completely raw diet; they gave me a taste of her raw bread and it did awful things to my glands and turned my mouth down so I couldn’t even try to say it was lovely! Anyway at present she is blooming and he said it was all because of twice a day raw wheat shoot drink which is grown from special organically grown wheat, from which they make their bread. He showed me the masses of little trays he was growing his wheat in; it is ready 10-14 days after sowing, about 6 inches high, when he puts a handful in a glass of water (collected once a week from a friend’s bore!) and puts it in the liquefier and you drink it straight away!!

Raw bread and wheat grass

Wasn’t it maddening, the abscess didn’t stop me eating, I could do with losing a stone! A friend of ours has just been on brown bread and water/ coffee/tea and no milk on alternate days for 2 weeks and lost 2 kgs.

We’ve just had the most sumptuous plum pie with lots of cream as Lent is over. I’m an ass, perhaps that’s why I lost nearly 1/2 a stone. I must try and restrain myself.

I heard from X that she’d gained 3 lbs – I wonder if she’ll keep it up. Do hope so.

He only weighs a few pounds more than me – tho’ admittedly I’ve suddenly gone to nearly 11 stone and can hardly bend in the middle and none of my clothes fit so I must take action TOMORROW! The doctor’s quite unsympathetic and says it’s because I feel better and the pills I’m taking have changed my metabolism and increased my appetite – no help at all!

Our newly married aged friends have just returned from a painting holiday having lost 9 lbs each, all through taking half a teaspoon of cider vinegar in water 3 times a day, sounds foul but I’ll try anything once.

The diet book looks much easier than all that calorie counting, I was surprised how alcoholic I can be without a thought! But sad that my rather heavy homemade brown bread is 18 grams an ounce; can’t believe I can keep down to 50 a day.

Dowsing 3

We’ve been wondering whether to drill a bore – it’s been so hot so the garden and all the fields are drying out. Our neighbour has one and I dowsed on the same line and it’s obvious as it’s an old stream that comes right up to our fence. So we got a drilling type along – v. nice young man – who said he could do it for $1,750!!! Then we’d need an engine and cover and electricity laid on. So we’d be into £2000+++. Praise be the drought’s broken and we had steady rain last night.

There’s a woman from the mental hospital loose, she’s reported dangerous having axed her husband to death. I dowsed she was in X last night, and as I was going in that direction today I had a little look at the part of the road I thought I had reactions to (I wasn’t too convinced, it was rather a coincidence it was in the place I knew I was going to today!) but it was odd that in the middle of a really quite pleasant neighbourhood there was a shabby little house surrounded in weeds and all the blinds down. Clutching my folder I rapped on the door and when an aged crone answered, asked how to get to a road in the district. She certainly wasn’t the woman who is wanted and didn’t seem at all put out, so as [partner] said I’d probably be put in the mental hospital too if I told the place I’d dowsed her, I let well alone!!! The news tonight says she’s been seen miles away, but she obviously made her getaway during the night after I dowsed!

We’ve had a fascinating day. We went into X this morning to an aerial photographer who was a poppet. It was difficult to get him to show us what we wanted without telling him what for. After I’d talked round sewage and water pipes etc. he said, ‘You’re not telling me the whole story so it’s difficult to help.’ So I had to admit I had a hunch re the seepage – he said he’d lived here all his life and feared there wasn’t any but actually there was a line on the photographs he couldn’t explain. Anyway we set off to the bay right off the beaten track and had to climb down awfully steep cliffs and had a gorgeous afternoon clambering over rocks looking for oil or tar. Then there were two young surfies and on the way back I asked them did they ever get tar or oil on their skin diving suits and they came up with the information there was some soapsuddy looking patches in the bay and pointed them out to us. We had a look from the top with binoculars and there was a line of bubbles which didn’t change position. I was told it was easy to see a seepage as the bubbles showed on the water – TRIUMPH. Of course [partner] is quite noncommittal and unconvinced but we’re going to two other places there should be a seepage on shore tomorrow.

He is that delightful epitome of tact who told her that the man in the DSIR to whom she had been speaking about divining was the department’s officer who dealt with crank queries! Even she was taken aback.

The man in charge of cranks


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.