Nothing is certain but…

“… about a year ago I wrote saying (more or less), ‘nice to have known you, goodbye’. He wrote back, having recovered from his latest bout of rigor mortis, saying he was bird watching and going off to Italy!”

“It was such a sudden and tragic loss that I suffered when partner passed away.”

“She was happy at his ‘easy’ end, and I can attest to that as husband was in and out of Hospital Emergency for 17 years before he died – and it was awful to watch it all – and of course more awful for him.”

[re bout of rhinitis] “…and those pills were the ones I didn’t bring. I reluctantly bought some quick relievers – which did work praise be. Horror story of X’s about a visitor who did the same and they didn’t go with some other medicine he took and he died within hours made me a little apprehensive!!”

“I was to and fro all the time and mother died last month just before I arrived back in X. It has all been too depressing for words. I know it was all for the best but it still knocks you for six.”

“Unfortunately X’s grandfather was hit by a car recently and he died a few days later. He was 80 years old so would not have been around much longer anyway but it was not a nice way to go.”

[re X’s garden after her death] “X had lovely iris stylosa – they are gorgeous but I haven’t been out to croon over them for about a fortnight. They made me burst into tears anyhow so perhaps it is as well to leave them uncrooned over.”

Pets – love them or hate them

“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!”

“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 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!”

“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 it in he’d rehouse it – but when she took it in last week the vet said it was very sick and it would be kinder to put it down – she was very sad – she is such a beautiful person and so kind.”

“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.”

“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!”

Some students

“I am not going back to varsity until I have decided what I’d like to do for the rest of my life as without an aim for good marks I think I wouldn’t do as well as I might if I had a goal.” [Hmm…]

the whirlwind

“I was told by some friends of mine there that they had met X with Y – Y with studs in her lips, ears, nose and belly – her hair also peculiar – some style she’d mimicked from India and hadn’t been washed for months. She was according to them very high on drugs but doing very well at the university. Well, from all one hears most students are on drugs. X was loyal but she said it was like having a whirlwind in the house and she couldn’t stand it for many days at a time.”

“It’s a shame, but I’m not getting on too well with my parents at the moment – they seem to be going out of their way to heap burdens on me to me, and I seem lazy and unthoughtful to them. I personally have been trying to take more on in the household – I’ve been doing my own washing and ironing etc. and I cook dinner quite regularly, as well as doing my usual chores and extra odd jobs. Oh well, it can only get better I suppose.” [Oh yes? Well, let’s hope so anyway.]

“I took part in a more interesting job the week before Christmas working for Telecom. I was a phone-in Father Christmas on ‘Santa Line’ along with a hundred or so others. Although very noisy it was a lot of fun, with the majority of calls being innocent and sincere (as opposed to the disbelieving fifteen-year-old who asks the most difficult questions possible).”

The birds, bees and flowers

“We opened the Tea Garden… We get tourist lunches, old folk from Britain once a week which is great fun and they love coming here – last time a snake obliged by nearly climbing onto the veranda from the bougainvillea! and the sun birds are a treat, not to mention the hoopoes nesting in the corner of the roof (instead of a tree!)”

“Now in South of India, tropical flowers, spices and rain. We are in Hill Station of Ooty and we have a fire.”

[The James Iredell House, North Carolina] “Wish you were here to see the wonderful gardens – magnolia plantation had 900 species of azaleas and a wealth of other flowers… We spent 3 days in Charleston.”

“This has been an interesting day-tour into the rain-forest. There have also been beautiful blue and red parrots and birds called whip birds because of their call. They made me think of you.” [I wonder why???!]

“First time I have seen this tree. It is a frassino tree and grows only in Sicily or Calabria. The manna is used in the trade as a laxative and also for other medical purposes???”

“Wow! I have just seen an enormous wasp type thing about 1.5 inches – HUGE. We got attacked by monkeys yesterday! I was holding a banana – I suddenly became surrounded by monkeys. They looked as if they would climb all over me – so I hid the banana down my top and they went away!” [Lucky the monkeys weren’t too determined…]

whiskery fish
whiskery fish

“The garden was all palms and wild orchids and lovely plants with green and pink leaves! And a demented cockerel and a bunch of scatty hens… We went snorkelling about 5 times. We saw amazing blue starfish – their fingers were all sausage-fat and bright blue. And angel-fish and other stripey ones and an amazing thing called a half-beak – almost transparent from the side except for its eye which is halfway along its 2-3 foot body. When you looked down on them they were coloured though. We didn’t see many shoals of fish, which made the one of about 300 we saw on the last day all the more surprising! They were white and whiskery with a yellow streak down the side.”

“X related how they’d had a real gorilla in her youth in S. Africa – its mother had been shot – and they looked after the baby and played with it – until one day her sister teased it and it bit her – it was huge by then, about 5 – and their father said it had to go to the zoo. When they left it, it had tears running down its cheeks – as they all had, including her father – sad.”

“The countryside is so beautiful and all the orange cacci [persimmon] on the trees everywhere. They look like primitive paintings.”

Tact – or not

“I say what I think without wrapping it up into acceptable phrases – or make facetious jokes without making it obvious I don’t mean it. I’ve got so fed up with being misunderstood I’ve practically opted out of chat situations with the feeling of ‘What the hell’! Would you believe it the first such I remember goes back to when I was at school which means I was 7, and it still rankles. All the same I’ve made a New Year resolution I won’t ‘let off’ without at least a fleeting think before I say!!”

“His teacher was impressed with his very interesting questions (she doesn’t have to listen to him asking a friend why he has bushy eyebrows and grey in his beard!!)”

“They are going to X’s… I hope things go well there as they are already sounding apprehensive. Apparently after inviting them X rang and said it was a good time to come because they’d all be working! Then rang again and said a friend had offered their house which he recommended their taking as it would save lots. Shock – they were expecting to stay for free with them.”

“I wrote you a card but lost it in X’s flat – just vanished! I only hope I didn’t put anything too awful on it. Maybe it will turn up… Am pretty drained after a week of X but it was all very worthwhile.”

“…This led to a long discussion between us and the young, in which I pressed them to at least do the civil thing in respect of presents etc. [from their grandparents]. I hear that X managed an apparently acceptable letter, but Y wrote a really aggressive effort – beginning ‘Dear Mr. & Mrs. X’ and going downhill from there. Oh dear, oh dear.”

“I’ve started the five Monday afternoon painting sessions with X. Last week she’d just said we must never try and paint something that didn’t appeal to us and then set up daisies with shaggy leaves stuffed into a square glass jar, with two radishes in front and a check cloth draped behind them. I actually surprised myself by not pointing out I couldn’t think of anything I’d less like to paint!”

Smug & mean
Smug & mean

“So sensible having no photographs or reception line – how I wish we hadn’t, and kept the in-laws under wraps!! COW.”

“X can be trying too, the way she takes over my friends and then tells me ‘all the news’.”

“It seems that my reply said all the wrong things but it didn’t really matter because she didn’t really read it anyway… I can’t really be bothered with any ‘guiding’ letters. They upset me when I receive them and I feel like I have to defend myself every time I read them, which makes me annoyed and I feel down – so I would rather not receive them.”

 

 

 

 

The attraction of camels

“Our camel safari was great – a long way down to fall. Felt very precarious. The worst was when the camel lurched to its feet – or knelt to go down. We had our camel man and a guide – they put up our tent and cooked us breakfast and dinner. Lunch was cold. We needed it after all morning in the saddle under the hot sun. Pushkar Fair and Hindu Festival was marvellous.”

[Morocco] “Surprise, we are here in N. Africa. Decided to come for two weeks of sunshine. All the grey was getting depressing! We are enjoying the different way of life – having to bargain for everything. Of course we have had a camel ride!”

“We are in Broome. It is quite a fascinating place. Our hotel is on the ‘waterfront’, where we can observe the 9 metre tides – quite astounding the difference between high and low. It is still a pearl producing centre and we have visited the town’s jewellers. X worked out that if she sold her house, car and the cat she would be able to afford two of the strands of pearls we saw… We have both bought pearl shell buttons… I am able to report that I have been on an hour’s camel ride, first along the beach at dusk, then into sand dunes under a starry sky. Magic. I think I could easily sit on a camel for several days on a trek, but I will have to win a lottery. The early days here were very rough and ready, I understand, and quite dangerous. There is a Japanese cemetery where 909 Japanese (mostly divers) were buried.”

Plural realities

“X is into another burst of divining – for both water and electromagnetic waves. While my scientific methods were not exactly rigorous, she did seem able to tell the difference between when the TV was plugged in and unplugged in the next room. All very bogey! However it does mean they get all the exercise they need moving their furniture round to miss underground flowing water and electro-tidal-waves!”

“One of the people is a real character. I am told that when she re-married in the mid sixties, her wedding was at 8 in the morning. They had to knock up the jeweller because they had forgotten to collect the rings and then after the service the couple were toasted in toast!”

“He wanted to share with me ‘one of the most significant statements he has ever heard’ (he has a new one each time he comes). This was at the end of the programme about acupuncture last week and was to the effect that ‘the stars were the acupuncture pressure points (or whatever they call them) of the macrocosm’. He seemed to think it was important to know which stars you were being influenced by when you were treated by acupuncture (which he is being at present, though I don’t know what for). I said I thought that was an interesting idea, as long as you could work out where the macrocosm’s head and feet were, to which he replied, ‘There are ways’. He had also told the doctor who does the alternative medicine around here that he thought acupuncture could do you more good in a couple of sessions than six months of psychoanalysis, but I gather she was a bit reserved in her agreement. He put this down to her lack of psychiatric training – but it could of course be something to do with the fact that he had called on her after lunch on Sunday. He certainly is an odd specimen, however likeable.”

Characters
Characters

“Mad [friend] – the latest craze is the effect fillings in teeth are having on people, and the number who have made wonderful recoveries once they were removed. For once X [partner] said, ‘No, I won’t do it at my age.’ But a few days ago X had an awful time dropping down unconscious, some peculiar thing in the spine had curled??? Anyway he managed one tooth out on this, to no avail, so X went to a service for the laying on of hands, and has been fine ever since.”

“I enquired after the husband [who she said had manic depression] and gather that his high had quickly passed this time. It must be difficult to live with. He is in the habit of communicating with his maker before breakfast. She also gave me a graphic description about his wandering about the house in the middle of the night being a train, and saying ‘[Junction]: I think I’ll have a sandwich’ every time he came to the kitchen.”