Doctors

My doctor is very aggrieved that I was so upset by his phoning late with his news of my blood test, and mumbles he won’t tell me anything in future if I get so worried about it. He insists now that about 10% of the people locally would very likely have it and I could have gone for years without knowing if I hadn’t had a blood test and anyway he didn’t diagnose it, it’s in my notes from five years ago, but the results showed it was getting worse this test.

I am absolutely delighted with ‘obsessional slowness’ and ‘pathological procrastination’ as the words fit a number of everybody’s symptoms. What will they think of next as a sensible diagnosis to offer a grown man?

A rattle in his chest

They have been spending the day with us, which was lovely. The baby had a rotten ‘rattle’ and ear trouble. They’d been in to see the doctor on the way here. I think it’s fortunate he and his wife are to be the godparents – doctors’ fees have gone up per visit! Part of the new budget. And prescriptions. Already two people have died because they couldn’t afford a weekend visit to the doctor. In fact ‘they’ now say this should never happen – but the poor don’t know.

My doctor said if it didn’t clear up then I’d better take a self-destruct pill, I wasn’t feeling well enough to think it funny, it’d lasted six months. Incidentally I did change my doctor and now go to the woman, who seems very understanding, but has the slightly chilling habit of not saying anything so you’re inclined to say more than you intended!

Transport

Her ‘new’ Mini seems a success; pity she left her old one (before it was sold) uphill from the new one, with the brake off! Fortunately it didn’t do much harm to the grid on the front.

I am so glad that you have got the car, and hope that it will serve you well. Admittedly, there is something about the swoop of a motorcycle, on a nice dry road, and on a sunny day, which you would need £50,000’s worth of car to equal, but it will be a joy to be rid of the business of dressing specially to go anywhere, and even more of arriving wet and cold.

He spends a large part of his time at the gym and out with friends. [The other son] seems to be out much of the time also so many a night we are sitting at home car-less while our sons are out doing the social rounds.

I was most surprised to see that a city sophisticate such as your good self had reverted to being a peasant, even if you still make a daily pilgrimage to town. There is no doubt a reason. You will know that your commuter line is shortly to be electrified. This might improve things travel-wise.

the commuter

Jobs

I’ve pretty much decided to give up on teaching for a career. I like teaching, but I’m not very good at the crowd-control side of the job.

I’ve been doing a month’s relieving 45 minutes drive away. It went OK I suppose but it was a bit hairy in parts – the last 4 weeks of a 15-week term is not an idea time to take over an undisciplined class! However. It’s a shame for the kids having 3 teachers in a year actually – especially as there’s not much else that’s stable at home for many of them around the school area.

engineer au pair

 

This change of plan meant X had to get her au pair a little earlier than expected and a lady from Turkey arrived just a few weeks ago. She has just finished University and is now an Industrial Engineer. Her English is limited but, being a very clever lady, is improving every day. She hopes to stay here for a year whilst her fiance is doing   his National Service.

 

X continues to be a complete mystery to me. Programmers really are on a different planet from the rest of us humans but, nevertheless, he is successful and enjoys what he does. No parent can ask more than that!

I’m supposed to find which diseases the butterfly caterpillars (which we export as pupae to live butterfly displays in UK and USA) die of and prevent them…

I am in a bit of a quandary at work. My boss is not managing as coherently (I can’t think how else to phrase it) as he was. In fact, I think he has got steadily worse over the last two years. During the last couple of weeks he has behaved quite irrationally on occasion. As there is no one much to observe this who can advise him to take all of that leave which is owing to him, I think I may have to take a rather drastic step and go and talk to someone about it. I don’t want him to have a breakdown. I feel like a tattletale.

Your new regime sounds ‘challenging’ if very hard work and I hope it won’t wear you out, particularly with a bossy boss. How I loathe the type who send peremptory notes and I do hope I wasn’t like that in the days when I ran a department! To [our family], who are always right, it comes hard doesn’t it?

Employment here is very bad, except if one has specific qualifications and experience e.g. mining engineer, accountant and top-level managerial experience. I have an interview for a job next week. The job is assistant archivist. I don’t know why they are even interviewing me, but perhaps there weren’t many real archivists who applied.

I muddle along as best I can. It’s a real case of ‘do what you can where you are with what you’ve got’!

It seems that as usual my out-of-date fantasy about having very little work in August and doing things like going home early and tidying the desk drawers, is indeed a fantasy, as I have to write the Annual Report by the end of August, complete with graphs and appendices etc., write various bids, re-vamp part of our education service, and finalise a whole range of service advice leaflets and programmes.

Your last letter relayed all the health problems you ended up with after the row with your boss. Wasn’t worth it, was it? I developed a back problem I think as a result of long hours and too much SITTING, SITTING, SITTING!!! Fortunately it came right on its own, or with the help of the change in jobs. I was so miserable in my work I think my mind was looking for ways to put an end to the stress if you know what I mean.

 

Celebrations

We watched the fireworks that go off down in the town from our balcony and then went to bed. Town on New Year’s is disgusting. Everyone is drunk and kissing everyone else!! So we don’t venture down there anymore.

We all had lovely things and a good time was had by all, with the children quite often spontaneously remembering to thank and at least two of the three capable of opening a parcel without tearing the paper to shreds and losing the all important label!

Then came a huge milestone in my life – my 50th and I celebrated in style. On the actual night a dinner at a wonderful new fish restaurant. Then a few days later I had a champagne breakfast for 20 girlfriends at a popular local restaurant.

I was vastly amused when a bit of wedding cake appeared in the post. The postage by air must have been staggering. Anyhow as you can imagine the stamps go down big with X and the two eldest grandchildren as they are all avid collectors and join in big sessions with the swaps and catalogue when they are at home. To go back to the cake… it was gobbled at once and no-nonsense about sleeping with a bit under the pillow.

I had a nice day – X baked me a gorgeous cake and I demanded a slice this year, diabetes or not, and actually got it. I had a good day even though it wasn’t like being at home. The sun is shining and I’m going outside.

We went to a friend’s for dinner and my dustbin of a child came up with this beauty: he’d had a large dinner and pudding and held out his plate, put on a pathetic expression and whimpered questioningly, ‘Food for the poor?’

The oldies

Your Christmas sounded ‘unusual’ to say the least. I was amused by your saga of the disappearing turkey – there’s something rather bizarre about a half turkey getting mislaid. The old dears sleeping off lunch reminded me of a dinner party I went to. There were about 12 of us there and at about 10 p.m. people progressively decided that a brief snooze would improve their subsequent conversation – so they simply keeled over on the floor one after the other and went to sleep. There I was left, suffering from an inhibited upbringing, and the only one awake!

 

Depression/unemployment

nearly cheeseless

Having this job has been good for my morale. I hate being unemployed – it makes me feel useless and frustrated about being unproductive. Over the last year or so I’ve felt varying degrees of that because of being unemployed. Having some really excellent friends has basically been the only thing between having ‘my bit of cheese fall off my cracker’ as I’ve heard someone euphemistically putting it and staying non-cheeseless.

 

You were right about X’s not-job. It must be pretty tough after all that time with one company. I do hope he gets something else before too long. Quite apart from the financial issues, I suspect an unemployed X would quite quickly become unbearable.

Both the photography and the lace making have made me much more positive lately. I know some people say it’s better to perfect something one already knows something about, but I think to do something new and different can have a very positive effect when one is feeling down and despondent.

I did get your letter. I even replied but did not send it. I was feeling like I was going to collapse into a heap. It was the stress from the work situation, physical exhaustion, stress through my housing dilemma, and a boss who thought I was invincible even though I was trying to tell him I was just about going gaga.

World War I & II

 I’m taking advantage of ANZAC holiday to catch up on a few letters. (The day on which we remember our ‘finest hour’ when thousands of NZ soldiers were killed on the hills of Gallipoli in the 1st War – we humans must have the brains of peas!)

brains of peas

X rang and [partner] talked with him – I was quite glad to miss him actually. He was a young Lieutenant when Y and I were in Algiers – i/c a ‘small boat’ and whilst waiting for the invasion of Sicily he and some 8 others helped collate the Operation Orders for some 2 weeks.

Yes, X was the Art Director there and… when he went to Woburn Abbey in the war I joined them as soon as I could get away. There were some 10 people from [the company] there, oddly. X must be getting on now, when I was 18 I thought him pretty aged!!

It’s always nice to have a good excuse to ring you. I was talking this morning about the miserableness of lack of communication for people overseas during the war – it would have been wonderful in those days if one had been given a ration of one call every three months, or something! It is quite a different sort of communication to hear a voice as against reading writing (let alone typescript – though that does mean more on the page).

He was for a time on the Queen Elizabeth at a time during the war when she was used carrying 15,000 troops at a time from USA to Britain, and about 1,200 sick or prisoners on the way back. She apparently did not usually have an escort, but relied on her speed (something like 36 knots flat-out, if I remember rightly). He told me of an occasion when she was to rendezvous off Milford Haven with two cruisers who would look after her. Before long there was a radio warning of submarines and an order to adopt ‘Zigzag R’ (which involved full speed). No sooner had she worked up to that than one of the cruisers flashed a plaintive message, ‘Wait for me’!

Time flies by

This year I have been prescribed my first set of reading glasses. I can read quite well without them, however at the end of the day I have to say the world did have very fuzzy edges. So, off I went, and was told that many people required glasses by middle age. How very cheerful. My eldest sister is 60 tomorrow. I have to say that the realisation of this made me pull up with a real jolt. I never thought it when she turned 50: even though I am somewhat younger, that didn’t sound anything like 60 sounds – sort of aged. So there, you have another 10 years of being young.

I am glad that you are doing new things.

new ventures

 

I have to say that as one gets older ones group of friends seems to dwindle, or you see them less often, or something. I too have felt the need to do something different and meet new people.

 

I must admit I also worry a little about how quickly the years seem to be going, the birthdays coming around much more quickly than they used to and the realisation that middle age is not so far off! However I always think of X who bought and started a sheep farm at the age of 50. She is in her mid-70s now, with the farm quite successful… How one avoids or copes with the bodily ills rather than those of the mind I don’t know.

…a year since we set off from Southampton. It is amazing that time can go so quickly. I keep thinking of what we were doing a year ago – getting up and having rolls on deck, having dinner with that dreadful man (remember the sardine appetiser?), charging up and down B deck.

I surprised everyone, and not least of all myself, by having a stroke in middle of June. At least I was sensible and was able to rest and recover lounging in the garden – I felt like the last of the Colonial Empire – laying back under the trees for hours on end. Don’t be shocked at being 50. I was 70 this year – whatever next!

X’s surviving brother, 89, came over from Spain in the summer and while here did two stints on television – one in ‘The Bill’ and one for a new series of ‘As Time Goes By’ with Judi Dench – great for his morale but stressful.

I thought I felt old when the children of friends started getting married, but it’s even worse when people my age announce that they’ve retired or are thinking of retiring. Where have the last fifty-two years gone to? X’s father died just two days after his eighty-seventh birthday. Although he’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years, and his death was, in fact, a happy release from his torment, X and I were suddenly acutely aware of having moved up a generation, as it were. It’s not that we feel any older (or wiser!), just nearer to the other end of our lives.