Entertaining

As usual at 7.15 with us arriving and getting organised we started worrying that no one would come – but then half an hour later we worried if we had enough food/drinks.

It’s the village party tonight… As the noise is so terrific it doesn’t matter much who is there – conversation is all but impossible.

tiddly speaker

The old boy patron of the society (who opened the Exhibition) had obviously been wined and dined too well by X – was so embarrassing – really quite tiddly.

 

 

If you want to come you can have the camp bed here but I know that only a night or two is possible without me suddenly going mad. Such a creature of habit am I too.

… and then we had afternoon tea at the Vicarage for a select few – ugh – but it wasn’t too ghastly and I just survived. ‘Being social’ is just NOT my strong point – but then you know that.

She made a super rich cake and put it where the dog can’t reach it. X moved it to a place that was a gift to the dog who ate about 1/8 of it but wait – after nearly giving up with rage – she made another and filled it with layers of cream and put cherries soaked in brandy on top and put a throw-over over and SHUT doors … sudden scream from X – the dog got in and had pulled cover off bring the cake to edge of table – spoiling top cream only…

She would be very happy for X to come and stay there – she is quite firm that he would be more comfortable and better fed there and I rather agree! She has ‘turning out of her room’ down to a fine art… she is worried about putting Y out of his routine of sitting in the armchair in the kitchen and watching TV… He finds it hard to admit that he is older. Oh dear, what a mouldy old lot I make us out, but we really are rather dull and set in our ways and I do feel two or three days would tell X all he needs to know about our insular views. Old memories are all very well but when the names are all missing the conversation tends to be ‘Oh, of course you know who I mean – dear old so-and-so with the wife’ and the audience has to guess until we get the right person or all give up in disgust!

[After a memorial service] X had got a bun fight ready at the house which was for the family, relations, friends and village people who remembered him. So it was all a bit mixed as the village method of having a tea is to take their cup and plate and pile the latter with all the grub it will hold and then retreat to the available chairs and bad luck to those who come later – which inevitably would be the relations and friends!

Telling it how it is

X remarked how well we all looked: retirement must be good for us, and he really must try it some time. I said, ‘What a good idea’ and hoped afterwards that I had not sounded too enthusiastic. But it is really high time that he did – he’s sixty-nine, and so conservative that John Bull would look liberal pink by comparison – and by and large he’s about 80% responsible for whatever failings in morale there are among the staff locally.

You said you thought I might be too young to see the hang-ups, I can see the hang-ups and aren’t blind to them but if a person grows up looking at what they might be getting out of life had they done something else they wouldn’t enjoy the decisions they have made. Anything works if you try. If only you could be here to see… you’d understand. I am young but am really quite grown up too and I like to look at things in a positive sense ‘cos if I always think negative I’ll be a negative person when I’m older.

I proposed an amendment which supported the declared intention to help poor people … I wasn’t allowed to get away with ‘poor people’ – it was variously described as Dickensian, patronising, etc. and ‘lower income groups’ wormed their way in instead.

That reminds me of a decorator that was here just before we moved in. He was meant to re-varnish the windows which were heavily water stained and badly neglected; so what does he suggest? ‘You’re wasting your money on these windows – you’ll never make them look good. Why not re-paint the kitchen instead?’

In the course of the day I managed to drop my old glasses, and broke the frame, which was convenient in that it saved any question of trying to use the frame again (which I did the last time I had a change of prescription). The nice young optometrist looked at it and said it had been a nice frame once – all the rage about the time he was starting work twenty years ago.

the frig

Men are wonderful inventions – X gaily went off leaving the refrigerator full of an odd chunk of bread and a bit of cheese and various jugs of orange and milk – I suppose he hoped Y would deal with it, or perhaps he imagined it would keep for a month. The house seems to be having the clean-up that can’t be managed when he is there, and the sheds have lost a lot of treasures by my unkindly hand. 16 old tobacco tins for storing hypothetical screws and nails went quite firmly… I hope he doesn’t notice that a pair of waders that had rotted over the bunion spots have gone from the shed as I am sure they were very treasured but weren’t ever used judging by the spiders and cobwebs surrounding them.

After death

I pulled up my socks and set off on a day trip last week to rescue some possessions that X had ‘wished’ to us. .. After a drink my distaste for the whole day had melted a bit, but I still felt it was wrong to be peering at her possessions. However the others had done far more of it, and had much more to do so I swallowed my dislike and ended up with a bag full of china, an anorak and a skirt. … sent me home with a determination to throw out more junk (not yet quite fulfilled, but I have started several times!)

I feel none of us paid enough attention to X but that is absurd as she was wrapped up in her friends there and all their doings! She was so very good to us all and did so much for all her friends – we have heard so many examples of the kindnesses she did to all sorts of unexpected people.

the round bed

I had a lovely time during the week when I was rather specially remembering X as I was alone in her beloved garden and could feel very close to her. I even braved the little round bed that contains the ashes and gave it a good dig and some peat to help drown the ashes, which don’t seem to have mingled quite as expected!

As you say, it is amazing how things pile up. X’s neighbour of 90 died recently after having lived alone in the same house for over 40 years. It took a woman who was I think designated as Executor of her Will over four months of daily grind to get it all cleared out and the house sold… She used to tell me that she was going right home to clear out her own house before it was too late! But one never does of course, and the moment you do throw something out you find that you need it!

Just a note with some sad news I’m afraid. Mum died quite suddenly a few days ago… She died at home in her own comfy bed, which is what we all hoped would be the case, as she hated hospitals… After attending the Catholic church for many years, she decided to make it “official” and was baptised a Catholic three days before she died… So it is to be a Catholic funeral which really seems not much different in any case.

Foreign parts

We are not far from the Limpopo physically, but centuries away from Kipling’s (?) description (in a manner of speaking). That’s what is so disappointing after my other trips and stays in Africa.

You seem set to come to Portugal but I wonder if you realise it’s gloomier here in winter than at home. Although it’s a bit warmer, people don’t have heating in their homes, and this high-rise flat in the suburbs is obviously built with the heat of summer in mind (i.e. lots of outside walls, no carpets). It rains lots too and is very windy. If you think you don’t mind all that, do bring umbrella, waterproof shoes and a couple of sweaters, but most of all don’t forget a sleeping bag. [This did not prove – with further off-putting remarks – to be an irresistible invitation!]

Last weekend our class hired a car and went to Sesimbra and then to Evora. It’s there that they have the Chapel of Bones that X talked about. My friends couldn’t understand why I was so keen to see this gruesome room with walls made of thigh bones and skulls.

There was a gale blowing and high waves, so, with coral reefs on each side of the entrance and the most vicious sharks to be found anywhere, we decided to head up north and try to land on the lee side of Madagascar.

The two other people who’ve arrived came from Zamboanga on one of the regular boats which nearly sank because it was overloaded. (One sank a couple of weeks ago and 100 people were drowned or eaten by sharks.) After that our journey seems safe by comparison. 

pet parrot

 

 

I do have a separated ‘room’ to myself in the house at the moment which is very nice. The pet parrot is demolishing the straw divide little by little.

Voluntary work

Things from the Bring & Buy sale

Our Bring and Buy sale yesterday achieved its aim of buying yoga mats for the members of the Day Centre who have a course going every year. And it made a good bit more too for other occupational therapy things, so that was amazing and good. We had our usual junk on the stall and sold quite a lot, and the prices were a bit lower than sometimes which was good. I managed to get away with not buying things I didn’t want and came out with 2 tomato plants, a box of tissues and 3 squashy bits of flapjack which were over-greasy and leaked everywhere on the way home! 

Our room [for volunteers] in the main hospital has been an annexe off a store in which all the stuff from one of the wards was housed while it was also being redecorated. An old gents’ ward and the chairs and beds all give off the most penetrating smell!! I will leave the rest to your imagination, but I am thankful that it hasn’t been too warm, as the window won’t open and I should have died.

[re care home] We had a lovely Garden Party there in July – not meant to be a money-raising concern, but the 2 or 3 stalls, tea and raffle brought in something short of £2000!!

We have the Mothers’ Union coffee evening at the house and a local fete, and now face a 50/50 auction in the village hall this weekend in aid of the church. Some very queer objects going from me, and I hope others are giving more valuable possessions than I am.

I will cut down on my voluntary activities as I found last year I was just pushing the children away to make this phone call and that. I am President of the Parents’ Association which I formed along with another lady last February. I am not a Guide Leader this year although I am taking my camping certificate.

Good luck with the cake stall – I like those as the goodies always sell well – at the most ridiculous prices! I did the handicrafts at the hospital WI’s garden party on Saturday and found myself facing a mass of rather badly made articles of uncertain origin and mainly covered with dog’s hairs! Made by our VSO who is most worthy and inventive, but not madly careful in execution! Anyhow nobody came really, except for the few members who were not involved on stalls and any of their friends they could snare, so there were few sales of my goodies – and a good drenching downpour ended it early! On Monday we had a jolly day trying to dry off all these dreary, slightly smelly, woollen objects strewn all over the office – in preparation to packing them away for the next fund-raising concern!

Wedded bliss (not)

It was a disastrous marriage in a way – they were ‘given’ a farm – and then had constant orders on how to run it by in-laws who knew nothing about it. X could do nothing right as in-laws thought she should sit at home and ‘play ladies’ which she had no intention of doing… she got so fed up she said it was to be her or the in-laws so he gave the farm back and they went to Australia…

Like you, my one hope is that if the separation becomes permanent, which looks likely, they will both manage to pretend they are adults – although I know that’s hard when you are only in your 40s and your ‘ex’ is totally unreasonable, insensitive, a bastard, and wrong to boot. Ho hum: I don’t really envy either of them. 

Double income

Has X managed to sort out her love-life? The joys of marriage!! I think we are better off. I must say I envy a ‘two salary: two can live as cheaply as one’ set up. But there is a price to pay unless you get very lucky. I think I’ll always opt for independence and being poorer!! 

 

I guess she took the attitude that eventually he would be living his own life and felt she had to grab her happiness while she could. Hope it worked out for her.

I gather X has turned out a quite hopeless case. And is married to some girl who refuses to join in any family gatherings, be it Christmas or whatever.

New acquaintances

I’ve also got myself a visiting job – a doctor who has fairly recently lost his sight. I was told he could do with someone to read to him from time to time. We started on the newspapers, and have now progressed on his suggestion to the Book of Revelation – but we don’t generally cover much as we slide off into mutual comment and anecdote!

Misunderstanding

I found her very kind, interesting and easy to get on with. It was difficult she spoke so quietly and I hear so quietly – if you see what I mean! but I trust we didn’t talk at cross purposes too much. One we discovered – I thought she was speaking of Russia and she was in fact speaking of Sweden – I was quite amazed at some of her statements!

 A real time waster today was a call by X who dropped in on his way home and effectively filled the time between lunch and tea with talk. He touched among other subjects on stress in the halfshafts of Land Rovers, the method of construction adopted for the interior walls of his house and its relationship to the problems of fitting sliding doors and extra power; plus common misunderstandings of the rates system and other equally enlightening subjects. In fact, he is a crashing bore. A pity, since he is obviously a kindly man, and it is very friendly of him to look in on us.

We were invited next door… She has a very loud voice, and is a great talker, so X was sitting there for about two hours trying to keep her finger in her ear on that side without it being obvious. I was feeling battered at one remove by the end, so it must have been very painful for her. Every now and then we tried to make it a conversation by starting off, ‘That reminds me of…’ – but not with much success.

I liked him better than her really – but a few words at the top of ones voice in the middle of a party is not much to judge on.

However she’s quite pleasant, and he is, but is very outspoken if he feels like it and calls a spade a b. shovel: last week we missed Bridge and evidently he and our ex-president flared up (he’s a Union man and a pain in the neck) and X raised a fist and asked him to step outside – X retired with a heart and last year had a triple bypass op. and Y had a stroke earlier in the year, and both well into the 70s – it must have been quite a show!