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.”

Men! Some are ‘not wanted on the voyage’

“You may remember I met X… So – he finally arrived here but no big romance: in fact I was bored and came to the conclusion that I should disregard men entirely. I obviously expect too much or am too romantic or something… He was sweet and generous and kind but I just was not interested… Hopes there will be a future together for us – he will have to be disappointed.”

“I went to X to the Romance Writers Conference… All the romance writers were full-on into romance. I did feel a bit of a fraud as I’m not at all romantic (perhaps I just never met the right person?)”

“I never was enslaved – I was always liberated and enjoyed my life as best I could without harming other people.”

Wonderful well for the state we’re in

“…independent for shopping etc. if I have to give up the car – I can’t really quite decide if I ought to stop because of eyes but in the meantime go on.”

Two years ago I slipped and broke both bones in an ankle and was in a wheelchair and incapacitated for almost a year. Though I recovered completely in the physical sense I think that I have not entirely recovered in the psychological sense!”

“So glad to hear that your eyes were ‘better’ with the different man – it is a completely hit and miss game as far as I understand it and one just has to trust them.”

She does have to have radiotherapy… and I am trying to say that the reaction won’t be nearly as bad as it used to be in my day when we centred the beam in a very haphazard way compared to modern techniques.”

“I cured myself eventually by announcing to the consultant that his precious blood pressure pills were killing me and I was getting lower and lower in spirits – so had tried without them on my own and found myself feeling better. So we abandoned them and I revived at once and am now full of beans – still short of puff but that is now put down to smoking all my life, until a year ago, instead of ‘heart’ which it was first thought to be… The greatest joy is to feel alive instead of permanently half dead and blacking out at the thought of doing anything! …thank goodness this nice consultant is amenable to being told that I don’t want too many of his pills – still having 3 different things to take each day despite knocking the worst one off: what would Maggie [Thatcher] think? I am sure they all cost the earth, and being ancient I get them for free.”

“Did I tell you that the eye-man had another go at me? I think with some improvement. This time he did it under a local anaesthetic. I must say it is not natural to allow someone to poke a needle into your eyeball!”

New arrivals

“I will tell you my news. I’m expecting another baby… The [others] are mostly pleased i.e. X wants a boy if it has to be anything and X wants a girl and X twin girls! X thinks it’ll disturb his homework and be a waste of money! Rotten little so-and-so… I’ve been feeling really tired and fat recently. I shouldn’t have put on weight yet as I’m only 2 months but I have and can only fit 2 pairs of trousers both with the front seam unstitched!”

[re a new baby in the family] “I have to say when I saw him, and in his photos, he reminds me of a beach ball. It is such an unkind thing to say, but he is a little round thing… No doubt he will be a dear little thing, just round.”

Baby
Baby

“…our daughter gave birth. A big boy… The baby came 14 days too late, but finely [sic] he is born in a hospital. Probably, he was very content in the womb, because there was plenty of amniotic fluid to swim in, like a tropical swim-paradise…”

“I had another boy…The hospital’s absolutely full so one night I slept in the doctor’s office.”

“… born in August. I did see him when he was a few days old, and he did look a dear little thing. He was a very stretched out, laid back sort of baby, who seemed quite casual about the whole thing. Usually they are sort of scrunched up and anxious looking at that age, I think (not really having had that much experience).”

We all need a job

“Don’t whatever you do go filing for Jesus – it sounds fairly mad and sinister in the extreme! Even a few hours on a Monday would finish me very rapidly I think, especially as her filing system is so plainly madly designed and you would soon be crazy too.”

“… the redundancy provision in our newly agreed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement is much more generous than the previous provision. It would give me several months in which to find alternative work, before I was bankrupt. (Perish the thought.)”

“I’ve spent my mornings being what is grandly known as Office Manager of a large private preschool… The school is owned by a witch, but is run by her gay, 40-something son and his ‘partner’, each of whom is a delight and between them they provide a lot of fun and laughter each day …”

“More and more seems to be expected of people and I seem to spend more and more time doing things like ‘Asset protection programme’ and ‘Environmental management plan’ for our area, than doing what is actually on my job description and for which I am ostensibly paid. This is not to mention ‘Department management plan’ which details all of the things we are to achieve in our department in numbered and dot-pointed detail, with names attached. Then there is the ‘Performance management plan’ which each person is required to have, and which repeats the Departmental management plan in a rehashed and individual form. I understand that this sort of thing is a disease affecting businesses the world over.”

Yes, it’s plan bingo everywhere!

Second childishness & mere oblivion

“This place is much like an open prison – full of dotty confused people – luckily I get taken out quite a lot. Nearly all the carers and nurses here are nice and just one or two sadists.”

the volunteer choir visits the care home at Christmas
carol singing at the care home

“… the carol singers form only at Christmas and go to various elderly people’s homes in the fortnight before Christmas. This has been rewarding and depressing. Today we went to a dementia wing, to entertain the residents. Half of our audience appeared to be asleep, but the other half really seemed to enjoy it, and were quite attentive. I hope they did, as it must be very boring for them many days.”

“…heard from X today and we are rather glad to hear that he plans to give up the estate – although it is lovely and proved an immense interest for him I do think perhaps it will shortly be a bit much – if he is getting as old as we are as quickly, if you see what I mean!”

“I nearly settled on a Help the Aged flat at X but fortunately they had all gone by the time I got around to writing, as I then began to feel better and couldn’t imagine why I wanted nothing at all to do and a warden to summon when in extremis!”

“Everything seems to happen! I am now in X Nursing Home… Forgive me for not writing – all happened so quickly – I will get in touch – please don’t forget me.”