Children 6

X still talks 19 to the dozen and I think the whole town knows of her as a chatterbox – if she were anyone else’s child I’d think of her as precocious and rather revolting, but someone has to love her!

[Visitors viewng house for sale] The wife’s approach to her outdid my grandmother – on seeing X’s darkroom she told the 5 year old it would be a good place to shut up bad little girls, and when Y offered them a strawberry each she said she didn’t expect they’d eat them, they didn’t like anything that was good for them – would you believe it this day and age! She was delighted with the sitting room and sunroom, which go through the house, and said she could keep the children out of it and they could play at the end of the kitchen, the space about 9 square feet [one hopes this actually means 9 x 9 not 3 x 3!] where we normally eat. Lucky children.

Must repeat gorgeous misprint of the year – found on wrapper of local frozen chickens – ‘before serving remove the wrapper and brown the children in a moderate oven for half an hour’!

The boys are almost eating more than I do now – certainly they all do for breakfast and lunch if not dinner! At dinner they get a main course: meat, spud, and 2 veg generally, then a milk pud or similar and they’re always still hungry and usually manage a piece of bread and quarter apple afterwards! My housekeeping costs have risen 50% in the last year. I’m dreading when they’re 12, 14 and 16 – they’ll cost a bloody fortune!

X seems to cross swords with her teacher; I suspect the worthy lady sees in X’s somewhat precocious manner a reflection of her own two obnoxious little brats! Last time X complained about unfair treatment at school her mother went and ‘had it out’ with both teacher and headmaster. The upshot was that X was required to go to the front of the class and publicly apologise for lying. Charming!

If the boys all go in one room they get up at the crack of dawn and jolly well see to it no one goes on sleeping. They’ve done such ghastly things as raiding the kitchen and throwing the eggs +++ around; their mother’s put a padlock on the kitchen door, which she locks before she goes to bed.

The egg fight

X staggered in from school looking like the wreck of the Hesperus dragging his satchel and saying, ‘I’ve had a very long day’ – I know the feeling.

X at a meeting – best manners asked, ‘Can I have another pipe clean please?’ She meant pikelet!

The family went To X Last Saturday. I went on a boat and I went on The miniture train Twice and Than went to Granny’s New house and hoD Cish and chips.

This afternoon I had X’s assistance again, as she left them both with us as she was going into town for ‘The Boyfriend’. But I must say he was very good and dug away with a fork bigger than him. The only snag was when we went down to buy some wood to finish the carport fence. We went into the Mall and he suddenly advanced on a little girl (rather smaller than him) and started a punch up – but luckily she had a slightly larger sister who defended her fairly aggressively until I could remove him.

The hyperactive batty boy certainly sounds a cross – no doubt his teacher heaved a sigh of relief at the clever idea of unloading him on you, even if only for half an hour a week.

[Drawing received with letter written on it.] This is about Beatrix potter and It’s a FiLm and we are having a Nice haiday love X. and we went to Y love from X

When I was young 2

Trains are not what they were. When I think of the breakfast I used to get around 1947 which lasted all the way from Waterloo to Basingstoke where I used to go to audit a steam-roller manufacturer’s business! And some notes I am putting into publishable shape have a description of the restaurant car on the mainline here around 1910. In those days the manager of the car did his own buying at the various stops – trout, whitebait, lamb, strawberries etc. according to season. There were various places where the suppliers used to wait in which case the train was stopped for the bargains to be completed! Nowadays one has to rush out to the refreshment room at the halfway stop to acquire tepid tea in plastic cups and equally tepid and plastic sandwiches.

Trackside goodies

Hope you remembered all your lunch when you went to Whipsnade, unlike your 21st! What a change from 4 shillings to £2.50. [And in 2019 quoted at £21.30!]

I went into the local garage who kindly lent me their hydraulic jack which saved a great deal of fiddling about, and winding, to get the offending wheel off the ground. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the shock absorbers, but the new bearing I had fitted a month or two ago seemed distinctly loose, and the man adjusted it for me in about two minutes flat with his clever cruciform spanner for the wheel nuts, and his special pliers for pulling off the cover to the bearing. Would have taken me all of half an hour. But it didn’t cure the rattle! However, the next service is coming up, so I shall have the shock absorbers given a special examination. I remember reading not long ago that they aren’t made to last more than 40,000 or so (which surprised me as they are the sort of thing one expects to last as long as the car).

Your bike sounds super – it brought back memories of my biking in those parts in the war – I can remember my delight as I struggled up the Finchley Road if the admiral passed me in his large car and pushed his bosun out to ride my bike up and gave me a lift. We were in the big block of flats at the top of the hill and the wrennery was in the enormous nurses’ hostel.

 

Diet ideas

I’ve lost a bet with X to lose half a stone. I think I’ve put on 2 lbs and she, maddening child, has lost more than she set out to! This cold weather makes me want to eat more to stoke up, and last week’s bridge, or lack of it, didn’t help. I turned up all set to find my partner was already sitting with someone, she’d just failed to put our date in her programme. I was so cross I came home, bit all my nails off and then raided my tin of meringues and whipped lots of cream and ate no less than four!

He is on to something new in natural food, etc. and now his wife is on a completely raw diet; they gave me a taste of her raw bread and it did awful things to my glands and turned my mouth down so I couldn’t even try to say it was lovely! Anyway at present she is blooming and he said it was all because of twice a day raw wheat shoot drink which is grown from special organically grown wheat, from which they make their bread. He showed me the masses of little trays he was growing his wheat in; it is ready 10-14 days after sowing, about 6 inches high, when he puts a handful in a glass of water (collected once a week from a friend’s bore!) and puts it in the liquefier and you drink it straight away!!

Raw bread and wheat grass

Wasn’t it maddening, the abscess didn’t stop me eating, I could do with losing a stone! A friend of ours has just been on brown bread and water/ coffee/tea and no milk on alternate days for 2 weeks and lost 2 kgs.

We’ve just had the most sumptuous plum pie with lots of cream as Lent is over. I’m an ass, perhaps that’s why I lost nearly 1/2 a stone. I must try and restrain myself.

I heard from X that she’d gained 3 lbs – I wonder if she’ll keep it up. Do hope so.

He only weighs a few pounds more than me – tho’ admittedly I’ve suddenly gone to nearly 11 stone and can hardly bend in the middle and none of my clothes fit so I must take action TOMORROW! The doctor’s quite unsympathetic and says it’s because I feel better and the pills I’m taking have changed my metabolism and increased my appetite – no help at all!

Our newly married aged friends have just returned from a painting holiday having lost 9 lbs each, all through taking half a teaspoon of cider vinegar in water 3 times a day, sounds foul but I’ll try anything once.

The diet book looks much easier than all that calorie counting, I was surprised how alcoholic I can be without a thought! But sad that my rather heavy homemade brown bread is 18 grams an ounce; can’t believe I can keep down to 50 a day.

Ill judged comments 3

I don’t remember judging her on this or anything else but could have suggested she made up her mind which was difficult with boyfriends in tow. If people tell me about their troubles I think silence is condoning. If I’m supposed to say Yes Sir, No Sir, I’d rather not be involved. Did she complain to you? I have more things to cope with than worry anymore on that score tho’.

Our party for the young gang was Tuesday. I’ve not recovered yet – 24 and us! …All went well except X practically threw them out half an hour earlier than they’d been invited for – two people came to collect young and he got muddled! on top of me telling someone their daughter was definitely not at our party when they rang up when she was sitting 2 yards away from me. I had some explaining to do the next morning. I was afraid she would be on the mat as to just where she was!

Pause of over an hour while X calls – she’s a bit dangerous as she’s a bit (quite a bit!) deaf and a terrific gossip – the combination produces libelous remarks!

Coming as he has from a rather liberal state school to a fairly conservative private school he’s objecting to calling the teachers ‘Sir’ – for a variety of very good reasons I might say! I don’t feel very happy giving him the full guff about respecting his elders and betters as his tutor is a complete twit! I’ve suggested that he go and ask his headmaster why this form of address is still considered appropriate when no one else in the country uses it. Should be interesting!

My opinion, uncharitable and unchristian etc etc, is that they have fled her manipulation and deviousness and need to control them.

She was talking to an acquaintance at a party the other day who commented that she never wears wraparound skirts as ‘they really make one look like the back of a bus’. X was wearing her rather snazzy homemade wrap-around skirt! Oh well, a very cuddly bus she is too!

A cuddly bus

 

 

Nuisances of life 5

Re the cricket lady – I asked a member of Lords who said that he was inundated with requests and suggests her bosses should give her an introduction.

I’ve spent more time at the Accident and Emergency Department at the local hospital this year than I have during the whole of the rest of my life! The staff there are getting to know me quite well, having extracted splinters from hands after I snapped a twig the wrong way, removed a huge cyst from the top of my leg which was the result of being butted by a horned sheep, and treated me for Erysipelas which is a disease that everyone took great delight in telling me that pigs get. (I got this as a result of one of our stable doors slamming into the back of my heel in a sudden gust of wind, and very nasty it was, too!)

I was cleaning out a much overgrown corner of the garden near the road, and lo and behold, another air-letter from her somewhat the worse for the depredations of worms? mice? or other paper-eaters but still for the most part readable. I suspect a pair of sparrows who have active designs on our letter box – some days they are encouraged by the postie’s deliveries of paper to use it as a loo (admittedly most of our mail deserves no better), and some days they seem intent on building. I think it must have been one of the latter days, when they started operations by clearing the ground!

How about a weekend towards the end of August/ beginning September? I am hoping that by then it will be possible to get out in the garden without being surrounded by 100/200 buzzing flies madly circling round your head! To avoid being driven mad I have devised a net bag in which I intend to bury my head entirely! X says people will think it odd – if they are rude enough to look over my hedge they can think what they like, and anyhow my shouts of fury and slapping noises must have alarmed them already!!

Protection against flies

 

I can well understand how difficult it must be for you to get around to letter writing at all, with your work, study, club and just ‘living’. Eating and cleaning are dreary chronic essentials I find!

How very irritating about the phone [number of new landline being in the middle of a bank of numbers for local maternity unit]. We have the same number as the vet only his involves dialling 2 first. Nearly every day someone starts off, ‘If I brought Phroo-phroe down, could you put him to sleep?’ etc.

 

 

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