I am glad you got to ‘Cats’ – I wanted to go to see Wayne Slepe (isn’t that the wrong spelling? – it looks very queer) after I had heard him on some radio programme – his dancing always intrigues me even though I haven’t seen much of it. The words of ‘Cats’ must have been rather like listening to the Te Deum or anything else in church – it does help so much if the words swim back into one’s brain from long ago and one suddenly finds the choir seems to be singing sense instead of mumbo jumbo.

Elite Syncopations was sold out long before the Festival, but I’ve seen it on TV with that marvellous india-rubber man, Wayne Sleep. I ought to have seen the Degas exhibition but found the work in the garden too absorbing just then.

You’re quite right to have written off Francis Bacon the essayist in the 17th century – the other one is a way out mod. painter. He did a series of angular men on a loo, from different angles – and the Pope without a face and one rather clever one, a self-portrait sitting on a bed with his legs going [writing very illegible!] and his head spinning off the top – these are remembered from ages ago so could be a bit inaccurate! He’s definitely peculiar and into drugs etc. – not trained and works from cuttings and photographs; another horror one is a side of beef which in some way he interpreted the crucifixion – I hope it’s not two other people I’m remembering!

The concert was in our new church hall. The performance was very much a curate’s egg. The best performer probably was a lady who plays the harp but she chose to play a long suite which was way over my head. There was a baritone who would have had X putting her fingers in her ears – painfully loud he was in that chamber; two people playing duets on the piano who would have been enjoyable if they had practised together a little more, and so on.

Give me the radio any day, but I know that I am a bit cranky, or very much blinder than I should be as I find it v. tiring watching these enormous coloured pictures that dominate everybody’s sitting room.

my recorder

Last weekend I went to a concert of Baroque Christmas music. It was most enjoyable, and I have to say it was refreshing to hear something different from the usual carols. There were some recorder pieces in the concert. I think that those players’ recorders must be different from mine – mine never sounds like that!!!


No lady in his life at present but he remains faithful to X, his dog, who goes simply everywhere with him.

X has gone up the village and left the puppy with me in my study – which is not conducive to concentration, as I have to be constantly defending my bookcases from being ransacked. I wouldn’t mind if she was going to read them. She has already eaten two throat sweets from beside my bed today, and chewed the remaining two so that they will have to be thrown away.

…we are supposed to be going there next July. However X, the dog, missed us so much that if she is still alive we might have to cancel next year. She is on senile dementia pills now – which I might share with her!

No doubt you will remember the pet Bantams – sadly the inevitable happened this weekend and a neighbour’s dog enjoyed them for breakfast. I suspect that they disposed of the carcases in the skip they had out front, as there was very little evidence in their garden – just a few feathers and a couple of bones… They didn’t tell her what happened when she went to ask in the morning, and just let her search in vain all day – until she found the bones and feathers – they’ve still not apologised! She is hoping to replace the Bantams with a goldfish (the bright idea of one of her friends) but currently I don’t think I could cope with the trauma should Puss decide goldfish for brekky is a tasty idea!

They own a Doberman dog which is the most timid animal I’ve ever met. It was attacked by another dog as a pup and X thinks she has never quite recovered.

The kitten has grown – I can just hear you say ‘guess what!!’ or something similar! He is beautiful and probably the most spoilt in the world. Partner is gushier than I am! We had him fixed last week – he was v. sore for a day but seems to be back to normal now!

X has had a stray cat hanging around her house who seems very lonely and hungry – so she caught it as the vet said if she brought him in he’d rehouse it – but when she took it in last week the vet said he was very sick and it would be kinder to put him down – she was very sad – she is such a beautiful person and so kind.

We lost one of our tortoises yesterday. We have three and we think the big one crawled out of the box. As it is quite large we hope that it will be OK in the garden. The only worry is that it may get dried out, as there is no stream or drain near by. We’ve put dishes with water around, which the snails have made full use of.

naughty puss

Puss has recently been fattening himself up for winter and is now very cuddly! We have decided to put him on a diet as he does not need to be so heavy. I wonder if he has been visiting other plates sometimes! He can be very charming if it will get him a feed. When we won’t feed him he pulls everything off the front of the fridge! and then if he still gets no attention he pushes all the magnets under the fridge. Little Monkey!


We had to replace the dog, we now have another welfare dog, female, medium Boxer type with white short hair and a brown patch over one eye and ear!

Puss is still on the diet but doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller! 8 kgs! He is a big cat but is still overweight. We might have to try harder!

At the moment, we have kept our front field sheep-free so that all the outside dogs can enjoy a good run off the lead; it’s so good to see them hurtling about that I think we’ll leave it that way. Fortunately, all the cats and dogs are still with us – eight cats of assorted shapes, sizes, colour and temperaments, and five dogs. The two miniature wire-haired Dachshunds are now thirteen, and, apart from being a bit stiff first thing in the morning, still behaving like puppies. The greyhound left with us by a burglar, and the all-bouncing cross between a yo-yo and goodness-knows-what-else, have been joined this year by a third farmyard dog – a rescued Border Collie, who had been chained to a stake in the middle of a field with no shelter from the elements, for more than two years (nearly all his life, in fact). He was only supposed to be staying with us for one night, on his way down the escape route of safe houses, until he was well away from his previous owner. But he was in such a dreadful state that he really wasn’t well enough to travel any further, hardly being able to stand through lack of food or exercise. So we decided to keep him, as you do! We called him after the SAS man who ‘rescued’ him, and now, five months later, you would hardly recognise him as the same dog.

Food and cooking

I’m not sick of fish yet but would die of surprise if I saw a green leafy vegetable on my plate. With so many plants growing freely around it always surprises me no green vegetables are planted.

Flatting helps one appreciate food at home all the more! It’s not that we can’t cook, because we both do pretty well in that department, but – us poor students – at home there’s nice food, one doesn’t have to work hard to jolly it up.

whisky & weaving

Here we are in the damp Scottish mists – now I know why they make so much whisky and weave so much – they need to in order to survive the damp. I feel like a fungus already.




Today I made my Christmas cakes. Rather late in the piece, I’m afraid, however they are done. I have two to give away and one to keep. I also made some shortbread from an untried recipe which is rather disappointing. I am putting a piece of it out of its misery as I write this. [For Christmas] I am having a duck galantine which I will cook in the morning, or the night before, and some salads. I don’t want to have to cook, then eat, a roast if it is hot.

I sat with another volunteer at lunch and she spent the whole time telling me how wonderful her microwave was and how quickly it did everything. I think I am too old to bother, and perhaps it isn’t really necessary for one person alone, as the cooking doesn’t take long anyhow, and the sound of making sauces and so on in it leaves me cold. I expect it would be good for you when you come in late from work, but the outlay would take a lot of saving on electricity! I was delighted when somebody else joined us as she proclaimed that meat didn’t taste as good done in one, and she didn’t think it all that wonderful.

Thank you letters

From young:

[Gift of a kite may explain – or not] Thank you for the kite. I flew it after we went roller-blading today… Sorry the letter is late. There wasn’t enough wind.

Thankyou for the blundiebus mirror, and the milky peewees (I bet you think I’ve lost my marbles!) No, seriously, they’re choice and so is the marble book and that impossible jigsaw puzzle.


thanks for the fun fliers. Live is going well apart from cofs and senezos. School has bene going well a part from sume upsets in th second turm.



Thank you for the money. School is beter than I thort. In Fact it is MUCH better than you thort. I am olso having drum lersons. it is cool. I Will pobebly get a c.d. ore a vido with my present. PS Thank you. by X

& somewhat older:

Thank you very much for the money you sent for my birthday. I didn’t actually buy a drink with it, I bought a hacksaw which I was in dire need of so thank you very much.

No way can I tell you how greatly I enjoyed the wonderful afternoon you gave me. Best of all seeing your splendid little house and charming garden and now being able to visualise what goes on in your busy life!

Thank you for giving me such a lovely day at X again. I’ve never not had a splendid time with you but this time was best of all.

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.


Partner is away at the moment doing a dreadful course in Yorkshire which will teach him how to deal with a nuclear holocaust. He can pick me up from Greenham on the way back!

Not much has transpired since we last communicated (except the Falklands war!!!)

Oh, think of the boredom of an election – can’t say I am keen on any of them really and the radio will be full of speeches and rant.

…and in the process of freeing up the ‘wage freeze’ which the former government had in force, and so this round everybody is trying to catch up for about the last three years…

We continue to be regaled daily with snippets about the Rainbow Warrior affair – of which one of the nicer ones was a report from Paris of official indignation about the conditions under which the two French Army officers were being kept on remand awaiting trial. ‘As though they were common criminals’ was the complaint. I don’t know what the French think arson and murder count as in the criminal code.

the closed mind

…when I asked X what she thought, she said honestly enough, ‘I came with a closed mind, and I’m going away with a closed mind’.

There is so much fraud and mismanagement in Government it is frightening. Government hospitals and health services are in a sorry state but there is always money to show off and host conferences… One thing they are good at is throwing a party… I’m stuck here, there is nowhere to go. I can only do the best I can and trust I don’t get raped, robbed, hijacked or murdered. (No exaggeration, all are very real possibilities). Funny, but I manage to live my life without fear. We have our lovely weather, good shopping, movies and theatre and I still have a job and a roof over my head for which I am grateful.

There has been factional fighting in the council for a long time, with some members accusing others of just using it as a way to self aggrandisement etc. etc. Now the mayor is in the middle of a public scandal relating to some shady personal business dealings in X. The public bone of contention is that he used council phone and fax facilities to the tune of several thousand dollars for these business dealings, and also that he sent personal business correspondence on council letterhead. He doesn’t see that he has done anything untoward. So, once again, we wait for the mud to settle before we can see what’s what.

Our trials and tribulations of the past 4 months contain enough material for a long-running ‘Asian soap’. We have been under surveillance from Special Branch, ordered to leave the country and goodness only knows what else… but we are still here and alive to tell the tail! oops tale!


Food theories

Our friend has a different theory – that all the violence which seems to get worse and worse each year is a direct result of addiction to junk food. When challenged, he assured me that it was a well-proved scientific fact, and told me all about some experiments with rats or mice where the junk food group became pot-bellied, mangy and cannibalistic in two months, while the control group remained as sleek and fat as Pharaoh’s kine.


the dream

I had a long and complicated dream last night in which one of the bridge club widows (who in the dream was an American) came and assured me that the key to world peace was a diet of corn fritters, which toned down the most aggressive temperaments to coo like doves. She had various additional ingredients and cunning methods of cooking which would vary the taste to anything one liked more or less from roast beef to ice cream. There were lots of embroideries to do with a drink called Eirene and ways of getting people to take one or the other – but I suppose the most significant aspect of the whole thing was that it started with lots of people shuffling about – in a psychiatric ward! So much for hopes of world peace!


I happen to be the most useless person in the world at keeping track of my finances (there are as yet undiscovered African tribesmen who could maintain a bank account better), and at the time of the wedding – and many times since, I’m embarrassed to say – I was seriously wobbly in a fiscal sense.

I have just vented my spleen on the local hospital management as a protest at the monstrous charges we have to pay under the reformed, streamlined, user-pays, homogenised, de-humanised health ‘service’. I’ll probably have to pay in the end but I guess a protest on the way won’t go amiss! I recently heard of a person who wrote to say she wasn’t paying on principle. The bill was handed to debt collectors. Their fifth letter contained the information that they had ensured that she now had the lowest credit rating possible and that in future no business in the country would lend her money, allow hire purchase or give her a mortgage.

I am very interested in the Heseltine-Thatcher quarrel, as Westland shares are one of my few remaining English investments. Obviously whoever wins the quarrel, I have lost most of my money in the company already – but at least if their future is worth squabbling about, presumably they are not going to be left to go down the drain without trace, and might one day get back to paying dividends and being worth more than the 2 1/2p that they are proposing to write the shares down to at present!

She seized half his capital and all the furnishings of his house. She then refused all his many offers of maintenance for the offspring and insisted on fighting it out in the courts at a cost in lawyers of some strange amount to each party. Then the judge by some miracle awarded her much less than X had offered her in the first place so she is ever skulking around sniffing for more!

I am alarmed at your state of having 2 mortgages and no job… I never have enough money – who does? – so for the past 8 months I have been taking in a student lodger… It has worked quite well – but of course it meant a lot of heaving around of stuff from one bedroom to another and the loss of privacy.

X wrote to me and said he was in S.E. Asia again until March. He must be about 90 by now. I hope if I live that long, that I’ll be able to get about like him at that age. (Silly idea really – I certainly won’t have enough money.)

no water

I moved into X’s house… He’s on leave… As soon as I moved in I found an unpaid electricity bill, I paid that and was pleased to have averted a crisis. Then I found an unpaid water bill and paid that. There was still water in the tank, so I didn’t know the water had already been cut off until the afternoon of 24th December.