Things fall apart 3

We went along 90 miles of unsealed, bumpy, windy road – very picturesque even when viewed through dust and vomit. That section went very well with the only mishap being a puncture. After some tea we went on. About half way the generator light came on – the battery (and lights and engine) finally gave up in the middle of nowhere. Luckily while I was away phoning for a taxi at the nearest farm a man, who obviously had seen a car before, stopped and tracked the trouble to the regulator (the what?). With finger on ‘that thing there’, and a hefty push we managed to get under way and finally arrived at 1 a.m.

I cheered X up last week, I was leaning into the ‘frig looking for something and lost my balance so grabbed the nearest thing which was one of the shelves. I yelled for X who found me with 3 broken eggs and masses of bits surrounding me, a box of eggs fortunately had only one cracked.

I write to express sympathy, now much out of date, over the manner of your parting from Computer Man. Admittedly it sounded entirely in character (and I can imagine him saying to himself ‘Here I’ve been paying her to learn in my time and this is all I get for it’) – but such a pity, to have to protect his ego in such a male chauvinist and piggish way. If that leaves you short on your financial arrangements for your trip through the early waning of your moonlight you are very welcome to borrow the money in my deposit account over there.

[Postcard of Titanic posted Southampton 19th April 1912] Thurs night – just passed docks. Many hundreds of anxious people outside shipping office. What a terrible calamity! Glad we shall see you on Saturday night.

I seem to be burning the rather aged candle at both ends and in the middle and feeling the consequences!

burning the candle

I had my hair done by a new man in the morning as I had a phone call in the middle of dinner on Friday to tell me ‘my’ nice Dutchman had fled the country in debt all round – sad, he worked so hard. I was the only one with a telephone number by my name and got the brunt of the owner of the premises fury – or disappointment.

I couldn’t resist having a go with my ‘new’ knitting machine this week and made a pale green oiled wool crew neck sweater. The concentration and frustration were terrific. I got within inches of finishing the back and really got into the swing of it – about 20 rows a minute – when the whole thing fell to the floor. I hadn’t noticed I was coming to the end of the wool. After wasting about 1.5 hours trying to put it back on the needle I gave up and had to unravel and start again.

I went for a long walk along the hill a week or so ago carefully avoiding the larger rams with which the fields seemed to be stuffed because we had a grisly story in the paper not long ago about two people in their seventies who spent an hour and a half being attacked by a ram, which was eventually driven off by the farmer’s wife who was in her sixties.

She thought our TV so crummy she’s told us to go and choose any colour set we like and send her the bill!! I must admit our black and white has about had it. For the last 4 months or so it’s had no sound so I pick up the sound channels on the FM band of the radio and sit it by the TV.

I had to extend the wiring from the power plug for the new position of the frig and was just fitting the new socket on the end of the extension when it shorted in my hand with a loud bang. I can’t think when I was last so foolish as to plug in and switch on a length of wire of which I proposed to bare the far ends! Fortunately I wasn’t touching the wires themselves.

I do hope my new lathe is not going to be a rogue causing constant trouble. The first thing was when it suddenly stopped driving although the motor was running. However after some pushing and pulling that seemed to cure itself. Then a few days ago I switched the motor off but it just went on running. A machine that won’t run is a nuisance but a machine that won’t stop could be a real danger in emergency so I wrote them an indignant letter and the firm’s technical expert is coming out to look at it.

It has not been a good gadget year – I am on my 4th hairdryer (of the batch of 10 the local chemist got in, I’ve had 4 – it was obviously a faulty batch). X’s new soldering iron had exposed wires. Our cooker, only about 2 1/2 years old, has something quite seriously wrong with it as it burns out thermostats at a most alarming rate and X’s new bedside light has loose wires since bulbs seem only to last until the thing gets moved.

X rang this morning in rather a dither – her brakes gave out going down their drive – actually by pumping her foot down it worked in time but ever since she’s thought up all the things that might have happened and got herself in a state – she really is a bit neurotic.

Nuisances of life 4

The other day I was cutting the stalk out of a lettuce with a carving knife and it slipped so now I have 6 stitches and a most dramatic sling. It’s so difficult doing almost everything with only one hand. My thumb aches – don’t attack your thumb with a carving knife. It bled everywhere.

The wrong tool for the job

Had the lambs shorn yesterday. They never got around to them on Friday. They look so different without their wool – all angular – and with enormous great ears sticking out! We had a sharp shower this morning and they looked very disconsolate – the water was evidently getting through to their skin and making them shake themselves to get rid of it.

I think from various remarks they have made that they are very short of money for developing his place, and he is really caught in a cleft stick because it wouldn’t carry enough stock to produce a living for the family even when properly fenced and fertilised, so he had to go out working for other people doing fencing and so on, to keep the pot boiling, while all the time he needs to be doing the same work on his own place. It must be very frustrating.

It had been an awful week, she’d turned the dryer on and afterwards had found the little boy’s kitten had been asleep inside, of course it was dead, the inspector had been and she’d not got any of the 4 jobs she’d applied for.

X got bronchitis and the heater which we had ordered – and which we were planning on to save us almost but not quite literally from freezing to death – arrived with a huge dent and bash in it, so we were delayed getting that sorted out and another one sent. So for quite a time there we went through all sorts of physical hardships.

Well, the great day has come and gone, and we are – mirabile dictu – back in the building again. I must say that as I wandered round it last Thursday I couldn’t see how we possibly could be. Most of the lights were not working. The new doors were resting against little blocks of wood instead of proper stops – just roughly nailed to the frames; half the new woodwork did not seem to have been varnished; the carpet layers had not been near the place all day and had left piles of carpet, underlay and fish and chip papers all over the chapel – and so on – including the fact that we had 500 girls from the college in after lunch to try out the loudspeaker system which appeared to be a total failure! The carpet had ruined the acoustics. They still seemed to me to be a cross between Paddington Station and a public loo of the large sort. So the next day they ripped half the carpet up again!

I eventually managed to get a new Certificate of Fitness for the trailer this week, after a rather blasphemous morning trying to discover why the light wouldn’t work. And then when it come to it, the garage never asked me to turn it on!

We had a funny experience with the car a few weeks ago. The ignition switch and steering lock broke while the car was down town. As the device was attached to the car with snap-off bolts (to prevent theft) I had to co-opt the help of much gear and friends at college. We trooped off down town, plugged our power lead into the nearest house, drilled out the bolts, shorted out the ignition and drove away all under the noses of 2 policemen and passers-by – and no one asked what we were doing! Obviously an easy source of income.

They are mostly small huts called chattel houses built on about 16 inches of dry stone wall which forms the foundations and the rest is wooden with palm or wooden roofs. Sometimes some of the stones fall away and you see the huts balanced on what appears to be about three stones at incredible angles! There is one village where the people are all potters and work with the clay of the hill they live on. When it rains the land is extremely unstable and some of the houses have been I hear rescued from the bottom of the valley two or three times!! and just put back on some more stones.

I’ve at last finished my cardigan. I made it 2 sizes smaller than I’d buy as homespun is supposed to invariably stretch – but it’s 2 sizes smaller than I’d like. Pity. Perhaps it will give in wear. Very cosy.

Did I tell you I’d bought a digital watch to wear round my neck because whatever strap I used brought me out in a rash. To my fury the chain round my neck did the same there – most odd. But I can and do wear it over my shirt now. I can’t think how but I put it in the washing machine about 2 weeks ago and only found it when I took out the wash. V. wet inside and it’s the one thing the guarantee said: ‘It is not waterproof’. I rapidly took off the back and dried it and to my amazement it’s going wonderfully.

I had the most frustrating day yesterday. I decided I’d be all domesticated and make a Melton Mowbray pork pie to take to our bridge tournament tomorrow. I messed round boiling pigs trotters and cutting up meat off a hock, a nasty messy business, failed to make enough hot water pastry and had to start again, then got it half way through cooking, re-glazed it and put it back for an hour, setting the timer, but didn’t hear it over the TV and came to ages later. Don’t know if it’ll be edible. At the same time I made some chicken liver pate. I’d only bought half a pound of livers which made it all the more complicated with the recipe. It tastes gorgeous but I wonder if it was worth the messing about. What with marinating in brandy then adding sherry and cream, I think it might have been cheaper to buy some of the duck and orange pate I saw in the shop I was buying some real pork sausages in in the morning. I left those behind too, it wasn’t my day.

Our poor neighbour has just rung to see if we saw any strange bods about yesterday – he was working on some possum skins Saturday morning and today they’d all been stolen. He told us when we came he’d never locked anything up here – now we’ll have to put locks on the garage and check the door. Oddly enough when X was out the other night for the first time the dog started barking during the evening so I wonder if someone had been doing a little recce.

Must fly, more later – Now it’s before a really good TV production for a change starts, and on our better line, tho’ after swinging our aerial round to almost the opposite direction to that which we had it before, we can get enough of a reception to see anything important on TV 1 too now, well most nights, it depends on the weather!!

The removal people had delivered our stuff some days before. The labels on the boxes merely served to warn them where not to put them. One bedroom had the washing machine and four beds while another was simply piled to ceiling with assorted boxes. We got some beds organised by the first night but it took us 3 days before we excavated the easy chairs!

X gave up our al fresco shower after the first day but I managed to keep it up, even on the rainy nights – though being wrapped up from behind with a clammy cold wet curtain whipped suddenly up by the wind wasn’t a comfortable moment.

I have a notice in my tray of some other meeting next week I think. The meeting is about making this a ‘Year of Renewal’ (which I fear cynically is a euphemism for a year of demanding more money!) So I must make all sorts of good resolutions about not opening my mouth or I shall certainly be in the episcopal dog-house since I think we ought not be demanding more money from the laity in order to stay divided, but telling them to go and mix it with the Presbys etc. as soon as possible. We have 7 churches in a 1 mile radius here of which 5 are within a 1/4 mile radius.

How much does it cost you to ‘dial a gossip’? All our postage and phone calls/line etc. have gone up, and milk’s doubled to 8c a pint (do I hear a hollow laugh from you?)

Tuesday I had to go for my upper colon appointment at the hospital. Appointment at 9.30, which meant leaving at ten to eight to be sure of being on time. I got to the car park by 9.10 and the ward by 9.20. Dr. X arrived at 10.30 by which time he had a fine old queue. We talked, and he poked me in the tum, and said in effect, ‘I don’t know what it was, and it seems to have gone away anyway, so let’s call it a day.’ Which seems to sum up the situation fairly well. Perhaps it was the water, and either I’ve developed the necessary antibodies, or else am drinking less of it unboiled!