Bureaucracy

We seemed to do all the same business, as usual (some of these decisions have been on the books for 3 years!), the Treasurer and the manager had their all too common argument, the Treasurer resigned and then unresigned – ho hum!

She doesn’t get on with her boss… The latest thing was that her 2nd band girls were not to be allowed work merit points for good marks in their test because they’d beaten the 1st band girls, who are meant to be brighter. ‘It would make a nonsense of the banding system.’

The forms get more and more complicated every year it seems, as they introduce more and more computers. And I heard of a friend had an amended return for this year which the computer had worked out. He rang up to say he couldn’t understand it and how had he got his figures wrong – and the girl at the other end eventually admitted that it was the computer that was wrong.

But it seems they propose to change the rates of the old surtax to collect extra money from us! The wriggles of the Social Welfare minister, a fat lady called X, to avoid admitting she made a mistake and avoid apologising for it have to be seen to be believed. Quite odorous.

The wriggling bureaucrat

He spent a week checking the safety of two tunnels that are being built. He found that they weren’t safe. He’d naturally expected them to be re-designed to make them safe. But you’ll never believe what he was told – they just wanted to know for their records – in case something happens! I just pray nothing does!!

Clothes 2

Your dress for Christmas Day lunch seems to have been slightly touch and go. I seem to remember your aunt doing the same sort of thing for a dance sometimes, when we shared a flat and having to be either pinned or sewn into her dress because there wasn’t time to do the hooks and eyes or whatever archaic form or fastening was used in those days.

 

Drama over her veil at 2.15 nearly killed me. I got down from lunch at the hotel to find the bride and a pal waltzing round in jeans and anoraks – ‘I think I need a little advice about my veil’. I could have have murdered them all as the 3 bridesmaids were supposed to have sorted that the previous day! It was a lovely old lace veil and I had washed it and pinned it out a fortnight ago.

Bath-hat and pants

Here we were, at 2.15 with the bride in pants and a bath-hat, 3 bridesmaids fully dressed, X standing holding his half-hunter and due to leave the house at 2.30 (wedding at 3 and some 10 miles away). The dress was still in its plastic bag, but luckily such a good fit that one could zip her into it in a flash, but the veil gave us problems and I couldn’t get it right till we had put it on and off three times, because the pattern round the square was rather thick and looked as if she had a layer of porridge all over her face! To my horror as she came up the aisle her face was all ‘porridge’ again and she had caught the veil on the brim of Y’s vast pink hat as they came up the aisle (luckily this caused giggles rather than tears).

 

I came across the suit I was looking for. With some misgivings, it was $281 for 6 pieces. I took it on appro, praise be. When I tried it all on the next day, jacket, waistcoat, scarf (!), skirt, trews and blouse I decided the only two things that really fitted were the last two, and $140 each was too much.

It’s a long time since I saw X and I suppose the most memorable thing, apart from his face is the fantastic waistcoats that he and a friend of his were wearing when I first met him (must be about 1937!) There was some exploit or story of it involving a goat, too, but just what has now escaped me.

Characters 3

The original ewe-lamb used to pay no attention when I fed the nuts to the others – but when she had her lamb and promptly abandoned it and went off to feed by herself, we shut them up together for a day in the pen, holding her down while the lamb had her first feed and so on – and to sweeten the cares of motherhood for her I gave her a troughful of pulled grass, with some sheepnuts mixed up in it. She quickly became an addict, and comes at the gallop when I appear with the tin and baas after me in an infuriating way whenever she sees me – even ten minutes after they have finished their morning feed! If I wait for all eight to get within range before putting the day’s ration out, she is so eager that she is liable to trip me up getting to the trough ahead of me!

Eager for sheep nuts

She always has been one for poking her nose through any and every hole in the fence to get the sweeter grass the other side and her lamb is now copying this. In fact over the weekend she got right under the fence to graze on the lawn – though after I had caught her once, by the wool (which I imagine hurts like having your hair pulled) to drop her over the fence, I noticed she was scuttling back under if she saw us at the window looking at her.

One of the most beautiful things this year was Sarah Jenkins being born. Sarah is our baby goat (Gracie is her mother) and she is the most adorable little one: black and white, soft fur, those incredible eyes with oblong rectangles. She’s frisky and independent and affectionate and I love her to bits. The day she was born I was literally ecstatic with love for her and for birth and life. She was so tiny and wobbly, like a little puppy, and we bottle fed her and sat around for days just watching every move she made!

She’s the nicest in-law – I’ve never heard her say an unpleasant thing about anybody and never gossips about other people’s business – when I admire that so much I ought to make greater efforts to do likewise!

An old acquaintance rang up and said he was going to come out and see us about two o’clock. Do you remember the Trained Ear – the man who recommended us to use drainpipes for the loudspeakers? It was him but he didn’t turn up.

She was in shocking form and even X found her cantankerous, but we survived the evening. She has her caravan parked in the yard now (God knows for how long, but I foresee quite a long session).

Church/religion 3

The headmaster wanted the whole Easter message at a service on Maundy Thursday because, as he put it, it was the only Easter service most of his pupils would attend, and I had to fit in with the hymns the school band knew – about 4! However I think all went well – there were neither boos nor snores; although I didn’t actually test the effect of the sermon by having an altar call!!

He’s been reading masses of books on different religions and is now sure Christianity is all wrong.

Have you read that book – I have it from a friend. I found it most reassuring that all the learned people he quoted obviously have the same queries as I have and don’t seem to have found as satisfying a relationship with God as I have. … [The author’s] wife is playing hymns on the radio every Sunday morning. I think she must be trying to make up for his emptying the churches, which is the widely held view.

Has the ‘Toronto Revival’ reached you?

The ordination went very well which is more than can be said for the ‘simple supper’ (the Bishop’s words) afterwards. The cathedral supper room had been double booked so the event took place in a ‘cosy’ Methodist tea room over the road. Not only could only about 1/4 of the people get in at any one time but when they did the ‘simple supper’ was a cup of plastic coffee and a tea-biscuit!

the simple supper

 

The Sunday morning service was not X’s cup of tea at all, because she was told that she had got to look more cheerful while she was singing and that she thought was too much. The singing was all choruses, always sung twice and sometimes more, and that part I didn’t enjoy as most of them are so repetitive anyway – musically very simplistic too; but our imported speaker was quite good.

They’re extending the Cathedral, every new Dean feels he must do something to be remembered by (my opinion). I suppose it must be easier than saving souls. I think it needs to raise some 8 million dollars which with people queuing for food handouts doesn’t seem quite proper.

There’s s hoohah going on in the parish because the vicar wants an assistant which will cost $20,000 a year and our income barely covers costs – if anyone queries this two couples who ‘run the parish’ tell them they have no FAITH – and they’re going to ask every family to give $10 more a week to help!!! The Vicar has also decided on curtains for their sitting room which will cost $900 – Sanderson linen.

[continuation of topic]

Yesterday we had the Church Fair. There are 6 of us at our church who produce things for our stall. I do far the least but took down coffee jars full of shortbread biscuits made with the machine, boxes of meringues, six jars of marmalade etc. but the farmer’s wife who is one of the old originals had 16 boxes of goodies, absolutely masses of pickled onions, dozens of jars of jams, chutneys and other things, and our MP’s wife had made quite 6 dozen packets of 6 chocolate truffles laced with sherry and various wines. I doubted if they’d sell but they all went. Anyway between us we raised $460 plus, and were a little put out when the money man told us all the funds were going to go together now – not our plan at all. Last year we gave it to general funds so this year they’re taking it for granted. However we’re firmly holding onto it until we sort it out. We pay for all the expenses of our little church and Diocesan quota, which is ridiculously high for the tiny congregation. There’s a storm brewing as the Vicar wants an assistant for which $20,000 a year is required, so he intends asking every family to pay an extra $10 a week to cover it. I fear I may have told you this bleat before, but we’re feeling very sore about it. I’m afraid he’ll also decide to close down our little church as the congregations are so small, but it would be very sad.

Last Sunday we had the most awful service – all action songs and two people ‘sharing’ their conversion and a dance group who changed on the spot and pranced all over the place. … The Vicar said the most he could suggest is one service a month as congregations of less than 20 are irrelevant and rumour has it he’d like to sell the church and land – for money money money. We had a nice normal service this morning – our patronal festival – tho’ few people and not a big do in flowers etc. – as we used to in ‘our day’ and afterwards X played his bagpipes outside which was lovely.

I loved your story of the scruffy old man at church even if he was so ordinary as to have ‘red woolly socks only on his feet’. The whole episode reminds me of an ‘interesting’ service I went to in a very big, empty and dull church in Notting Hill Gate. All went well until some ‘rooster’ at the back found that it was the appropriate time for him to contribute loudly and in tongues! There followed 5 minutes during which there was a competition between this guy and the celebrant to see who could deliver the Spirit’s authentic word most loudly. I can’t remember who won, but I don’t recall that it was the Spirit!

A friend and I had a good day. We organised a Quiet and Bible Study day for our parish. We were relieved because it seemed to go really well. Our Vicar was rather pessimistic and said we must be happy if only 5 or 6 people came; and I must say I didn’t disagree! However it pays to advertise (or pray or something) as we ended up with 20 people and the retreat house almost overflowed.

Characters 2

He sounds an odd character – I’m astounded you managed to refrain from crowning him for long enough to get to like him!

I’ve got a terrifying new help – X phoned to say she’d been asked to work in a school library starting right away – 2 days notice after 4 years but she did give me this woman’s name who lo and behold came the next day – large, loud and bright red lipstick. She got going with great gusto and from various remarks obviously thought my house was ‘feelthy’. She keeps running her hand over lamp shades and saying X must have been v. short. How she manages to take up twice as much dirt in the cleaner I can’t think – and she likes cleaning the oven! Anyway she said she’d been with my friend so I phoned her and she told me how lucky I was and she liked her so much she’d left her something in her Will – so I’d better try harder!

The people who went there are falling apart. The old man is evidently impossible – won’t let his daughter or her husband have any friends there, let alone the children’s friends, won’t let them use the telephone. When the grand-daughter was baby sitting for the neighbours, X said had grandfather done anything about getting a ram for the sheep as it was getting late in the season, and he was told Grandfather doesn’t like anything like that, he won’t even watch kissing on TV.

We made the former president who was such a trial an honorary life member – perhaps in the hope that she would thereby be persuaded to adopt more statesmanlike attitudes and keep her fingers out of the day to day running – but I think it’s unlikely to happen. She has been putting about that when the treasurer goes off to X halfway through next year as he is planning to do that she will become treasurer in his place (on the rather odd grounds that it would be good for her husband, who had a stroke last year, to have to concentrate on some of the detail of it!)

We heard from X this week, and were amused to hear he listened to the Test Match with the radio under the bedclothes at 3 a.m. – he doesn’t age much!! He must be at least 75.

She’s gardening mad and has rebuilt the garden too. I play bridge with her, she’s much taller than I am and twice as large! and is a bit overpowering, but I’ve given up making too quick opinions about people and hope we’ll click (tho’ life style is a bit daunting)!!

She’s quite the funniest person I’ve met, and she likes everybody, except the husband of her last boss who would come into the office smelling of drink and be very rude to them and to their clients, so she complained to the Manageress who said she had it in hand and it wouldn’t happen again! And it didn’t.

X’s party was all go. Y home wearing the awful red velvet coat his father wore when we first knew him – and brown suede shoes! And his hair looked as though he hadn’t done it since he left months ago.

party attire

Significant other (2)

Finally: good luck to X’s new hubby – I think if I saw her again I’d probably bite her!

She sure has woken him up and made him more amusing and human. I hope X reckoned that perhaps she [2nd wife] was a good substitute for young Y – although of course still sticking to her opinion that Y was badly done by!

X and I, at last, managed to agree on how we’ll split the remainder of the matrimonial property which will take place at the end of January when the lawyers get back from holidays at our expense!

Our neighbour who has the stroke victim husband is off to Canada for 2 or 3 weeks and putting him in the home at the end of our road – she does this every few months – which is very wise of her – can’t think how everyone seems to afford these things except us – which is silly as we could really – but feel guilty about it!

Did I tell you I heard from X: her sister who tried to kill herself – down a flight of stairs when her fiance decided he’d go into a monastery instead – died in the ‘home’ X put her in – what an awful 8 years of wasted life – I hope the man knows the consequence of his action.

V. sad: one of her daughters-in-law suddenly committed suicide just before Xmas – teenage children – husband left her.

One of the nicest of the group said she’d decided she didn’t like men – she’d just had a brief letter from someone she dotes on – middle 50s – saying he’d left his wife as he’d met another woman he wanted to live with.

We have not opened the tea garden yet as we were in such a bad marriage state – very close to separation. Then we were persuaded to attend a course ‘Curse to Blessings’. [That’s what it looks like which seems surprising!] Well – we are just amazed at the change that has come over us. We are on honeymoon. We are enjoying this state till 4th March I think when we shall open. … We have found that we can actually work together now without even arguing and are due to go to the Anointed Marriage course at the end of the month. And I take X to the Curse to Blessings in about 3 weeks. We are relieved her boyfriend did not get a job here …

I was talking to a friend who said her husband’s ex-wife regarded her as the woman who stole her husband and they didn’t even meet until 7 years after the first wife left him. The human mind is an extraordinary thing.

We found a fish and chip shop directly across the road which provided an admirable lunch which we could eat in the firm’s lunch room while he relayed to me the story of his war, in various engineering jobs, and some of his subsequent career and marital troubles (which had been somewhat mixed up).

Evidently her mother told all 3 girls they should know getting married wasn’t the only way to go, and only X got married very young against their advice and was deserted after 3 children. I can’t altogether blame their mother for her view as her father left her mother and lived with someone else before they got together again.

She and her husband separated for quite a while; he spent every penny he had (and every penny she had) on cars, and was not the perfect husband.

Every time he opened his mouth, she told him he was being boring and ‘nobody was interested in that’ and he was snapping back, and being generally disgruntled.

I do wonder who X has married – Y said she replied to the speech as her new husband is very shy – and mad to marry her!!!

He’s so foul in the morning he goes to work without breakfast and phones her up about 9.30 and they talk for ages. But how this would fit into a caravan I can’t think.

Evidently he’s a new man since the break-up of their marriage – lost weight, given up smoking, and is very cheerful.

the new man

I’m pretty amazed they made their 25th too – a few years ago I think it was touch and go.

We had a huge montage of them climbing sheer cliffs and one of him kayaking down a narrow bluff which had seething water … I trust she won’t be a widow too young.

X has really done wonders with her minute flat – it looks hovelish outside but perfectly okay for one person – she keeps bringing things from the house [ex home] some of which he has different views on whether they are ‘hers, his or theirs’. It’s not going to be easy.

Children (2)

X as awkward as ever. I fear he dreads coming into our house, and there’s a free fight even getting him out of the car – really most shaming for us. I don’t know what started it all off – no, I haven’t spanked him or even shouted at him once!!!

unwilling visitor

 I’d love to know about all the other misdoings at her school her daughter got up to, do tell me more.

X is a real delight – gets handed round like a parcel and beams on everyone. She could only go backwards then – and was trying to pull her leg up by holding her clothes – but a few days after she was off – so now the gate has to be locked by the stairs.

X has been elected form captain which was v. good for her morale – I have a suspicion that she’ll be unbearable – in the nicest possible way!!

She’s having a rough ride at work. I don’t think she’d realised how completely unstructured the school is. If her little dears (8 year olds) get bored or cross they go walk-about and come back when they feel like it. Also several of them can’t read…

I asked X (re that couple) about babies a while ago and she made it sound not to be mentioned.

The children fell upon her as though they had suffered tortures during the fortnight (when grandmother and great-aunt were in charge), but needless to say they had been well and truly spoilt really and got away with a lot of minor sins without reprimand – and with a great deal of demanding favourite food and more ice-cream etc. that no doubt mum would have dealt with much more severely than grandmother did – although even she rebelled when the youngest tried to get away with putting golden syrup on a chocolate wheaten biscuit! Ladling it on to a scone was one thing and licking the spoon with a ladleful of treacle in it just passable, but the idea of it on expensive choc bics was too much!!

Sex appeal and influence

I think he is very swade [sic] by her influance [sic] as to what they do with their time but love seems to do that to people. [Spelling not a strong point!]

I wrote and told her my memories of her mother – I said how jealous we all were at her ability to attract every man that set eyes on her  …   (perhaps this had something to do with her refusing to write her memoir for the family saying there were so many things she’d done in her life that she wasn’t proud of and much regretted.) Actually I didn’t tell X her mother was not attractive to look at and very shy but had tremendous sex appeal! Infuriating for her sister as all her male friends were grabbed up…

We borrowed X’s ram yesterday. Y brought it for us. As he drove up all our ewes moved up to the gate and accorded him a great welcome which he reciprocated in a most definite manner before the truck had even driven off. Undoubtedly a randy ram. [One has to work out whether ‘he’ is the driver or the ram!!!]

I absolutely agree about X – she is a delight to talk to as one gets to know her and is so attractive. My dear, imagine meeting Y and her together and you can see how I sink into the ground!! And I am old and not feeling in the competitive age – it must be ghastly for plain Janes to meet a couple like that at a party, although both are really so nice but do look rather out of this world. Not that you have any reason for feeling like an elephant but they have some sort of mysterious poise that is defeating, and automatically makes the rest of us feel boringly dull.

plain Jane sinks into the ground

Operations

[Child’s new word – will all the staff being trained need an operation, I wonder?] Apprenticitis.

…a pleasant visit to X who was recovering from a hysterectomy; recovering very well actually, which she is putting down to using a couple of arnica tablets before and after the operation – she said it felt a lot better than when she had any of her Caesars.

I’ve had a series of operations, some major, most minor. I have more in prospect. It has left me rather weak and I have no idea when I shall be able to return to work.

One of my many symptoms, as yet undiagnosed, is that both hands are in an arthritic condition, still and painful. So you’ll understand that I can’t write at length.

X eventually ended up in Ward 3 of the District General Hospital, with the prospect of some mysterious cross between a replacement hip and a pin – it is a prosthesis of sorts and the houseman could only describe it to me as half a hip-joint, which sounds very queer. The surgeon is said to be clever but brusque and pretty unapproachable, but as long as he does it well we shall be happy.

I was thrown into confusion last week by the surgeon’s secretary offering me a bed this Friday! I will do a phone call when I am back with another new lens and all ready to see out life with just one more pair of glasses I imagine.

Cattaracts [sic] – Yes, both done now and spot on so far.

cattaracts

The surgeon is frightfully busy this summer I gather (what with a long holiday and such like!) and she seems to think it may have to be in about September if she misses June, but is resigning herself to this by degrees and it will be his verdict when she crawls in to see him at the beginning of next week – by then I hope she will be able to face the walk from the hospital car park to outpatients!!

Self-preservation

I’ve just had a visitation from our vicar – very pleasant but I just can’t take being prayed over in my sitting room. And saying no thank you – it doesn’t sound very friendly, but…

Reflecting on the theme of self-destructive behaviour – one of the frustrations and demoralisers for self-destroyers is that often those around them appear to (and do) ‘press on regardless’ because that seems to be the only way to prevent themselves being sucked into self-destruction too.

[Child of 7] Some people say ‘I wish all my dreams would all come true but I wouldn’t – I have some TERRIBLE dreams!’

We stayed there until the following Monday. On the whole the time was fun if one was able to ignore X who was utterly impossible for large chunks of the time; her skills at putting-down and misconstruction are becoming highly honed with age.

Are the satisfactions of your work worth the assaults on your health by all the germs that your patients cough, splutter, sneeze, blow and breathe in your face each day? (It’s a pity that you can’t enclose yourself in an armoured-glass cubicle equipped with a two-way microphone-loudspeaker, like the embassy enquiry desk here – but I can see that it would have drawbacks in the field of interpersonal relationships.)

We had an orgy of present opening somewhat overcast by the boys’ cub-master calling as he couldn’t manage the previous night – and staying for well over 2 hours when X made an inspired invitation to join us in a cup of tea before he went!

I have an inclination to have all my hair clipped off to see if it will grow back curly. X nearly had hysterics when I told her but I must do something to boost my morale!

Her ‘new’ Mini looks fine, in very good condition. It was good of her landlord to go round with her when she was looking. I fear car salesmen are a breed of crooks.

the jovial vicar

We wasted an afternoon at a Mothers’ Union affair on Saturday. She had to run, and produce beforehand, a lucky dip of grocery things and I went to support and buy. There were 9 members present and me !!! The chairwoman had done no advertising and instead of making about £100 we eventually cleared about £30, which was wonderful in itself from so few, but useless towards their annual expenses. It was quite the dreariest 2 or 3 hours that you ever met and I got landed with running the raffle, but the helpers had already taken their tickets and nobody else came, so there was little to do! We had tea and retreated with endless goodies that we didn’t really want.The Vicar was very jovial and full of long and pointless stories and had to be avoided at all costs and Mrs. was full of talk about her runner beans and the trials of her Brussel sprouts so it was all fairly cheesing. The only good thing was the chocolate cake we had for tea! But the endless sandwiches of tinned salmon and corned beef which some earnest member had cut went quite disregarded and I don’t know if there were any takers to buy them at the end as I left just before the end. It was suggested that I should join but I really think it is to be avoided at all costs!! With luck it will die a natural death before I get around to doing so.