As usual at 7.15 with us arriving and getting organised we started worrying that no one would come – but then half an hour later we worried if we had enough food/drinks.
It’s the village party tonight… As the noise is so terrific it doesn’t matter much who is there – conversation is all but impossible.
The old boy patron of the society (who opened the Exhibition) had obviously been wined and dined too well by X – was so embarrassing – really quite tiddly.
If you want to come you can have the camp bed here but I know that only a night or two is possible without me suddenly going mad. Such a creature of habit am I too.
… and then we had afternoon tea at the Vicarage for a select few – ugh – but it wasn’t too ghastly and I just survived. ‘Being social’ is just NOT my strong point – but then you know that.
She made a super rich cake and put it where the dog can’t reach it. X moved it to a place that was a gift to the dog who ate about 1/8 of it but wait – after nearly giving up with rage – she made another and filled it with layers of cream and put cherries soaked in brandy on top and put a throw-over over and SHUT doors … sudden scream from X – the dog got in and had pulled cover off bring the cake to edge of table – spoiling top cream only…
She would be very happy for X to come and stay there – she is quite firm that he would be more comfortable and better fed there and I rather agree! She has ‘turning out of her room’ down to a fine art… she is worried about putting Y out of his routine of sitting in the armchair in the kitchen and watching TV… He finds it hard to admit that he is older. Oh dear, what a mouldy old lot I make us out, but we really are rather dull and set in our ways and I do feel two or three days would tell X all he needs to know about our insular views. Old memories are all very well but when the names are all missing the conversation tends to be ‘Oh, of course you know who I mean – dear old so-and-so with the wife’ and the audience has to guess until we get the right person or all give up in disgust!
[After a memorial service] X had got a bun fight ready at the house which was for the family, relations, friends and village people who remembered him. So it was all a bit mixed as the village method of having a tea is to take their cup and plate and pile the latter with all the grub it will hold and then retreat to the available chairs and bad luck to those who come later – which inevitably would be the relations and friends!
X remarked how well we all looked: retirement must be good for us, and he really must try it some time. I said, ‘What a good idea’ and hoped afterwards that I had not sounded too enthusiastic. But it is really high time that he did – he’s sixty-nine, and so conservative that John Bull would look liberal pink by comparison – and by and large he’s about 80% responsible for whatever failings in morale there are among the staff locally.
You said you thought I might be too young to see the hang-ups, I can see the hang-ups and aren’t blind to them but if a person grows up looking at what they might be getting out of life had they done something else they wouldn’t enjoy the decisions they have made. Anything works if you try. If only you could be here to see… you’d understand. I am young but am really quite grown up too and I like to look at things in a positive sense ‘cos if I always think negative I’ll be a negative person when I’m older.
I proposed an amendment which supported the declared intention to help poor people … I wasn’t allowed to get away with ‘poor people’ – it was variously described as Dickensian, patronising, etc. and ‘lower income groups’ wormed their way in instead.
That reminds me of a decorator that was here just before we moved in. He was meant to re-varnish the windows which were heavily water stained and badly neglected; so what does he suggest? ‘You’re wasting your money on these windows – you’ll never make them look good. Why not re-paint the kitchen instead?’
In the course of the day I managed to drop my old glasses, and broke the frame, which was convenient in that it saved any question of trying to use the frame again (which I did the last time I had a change of prescription). The nice young optometrist looked at it and said it had been a nice frame once – all the rage about the time he was starting work twenty years ago.
Men are wonderful inventions – X gaily went off leaving the refrigerator full of an odd chunk of bread and a bit of cheese and various jugs of orange and milk – I suppose he hoped Y would deal with it, or perhaps he imagined it would keep for a month. The house seems to be having the clean-up that can’t be managed when he is there, and the sheds have lost a lot of treasures by my unkindly hand. 16 old tobacco tins for storing hypothetical screws and nails went quite firmly… I hope he doesn’t notice that a pair of waders that had rotted over the bunion spots have gone from the shed as I am sure they were very treasured but weren’t ever used judging by the spiders and cobwebs surrounding them.
I’ve also got myself a visiting job – a doctor who has fairly recently lost his sight. I was told he could do with someone to read to him from time to time. We started on the newspapers, and have now progressed on his suggestion to the Book of Revelation – but we don’t generally cover much as we slide off into mutual comment and anecdote!
I found her very kind, interesting and easy to get on with. It was difficult she spoke so quietly and I hear so quietly – if you see what I mean! but I trust we didn’t talk at cross purposes too much. One we discovered – I thought she was speaking of Russia and she was in fact speaking of Sweden – I was quite amazed at some of her statements!
A real time waster today was a call by X who dropped in on his way home and effectively filled the time between lunch and tea with talk. He touched among other subjects on stress in the halfshafts of Land Rovers, the method of construction adopted for the interior walls of his house and its relationship to the problems of fitting sliding doors and extra power; plus common misunderstandings of the rates system and other equally enlightening subjects. In fact, he is a crashing bore. A pity, since he is obviously a kindly man, and it is very friendly of him to look in on us.
We were invited next door… She has a very loud voice, and is a great talker, so X was sitting there for about two hours trying to keep her finger in her ear on that side without it being obvious. I was feeling battered at one remove by the end, so it must have been very painful for her. Every now and then we tried to make it a conversation by starting off, ‘That reminds me of…’ – but not with much success.
I liked him better than her really – but a few words at the top of ones voice in the middle of a party is not much to judge on.
However she’s quite pleasant, and he is, but is very outspoken if he feels like it and calls a spade a b. shovel: last week we missed Bridge and evidently he and our ex-president flared up (he’s a Union man and a pain in the neck) and X raised a fist and asked him to step outside – X retired with a heart and last year had a triple bypass op. and Y had a stroke earlier in the year, and both well into the 70s – it must have been quite a show!
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”