Do remember to send me a diagram of your house so I can dowse it for you. It seems to be good for us and especially our friend X… I think when I last wrote I was waiting to hear the result of the drill being done nearby; I went down complete with cans of beer to celebrate only to find X had decided he shouldn’t put on another 10 ft pipe to bring it up to the depth I reckoned he would strike an aquifer and water in vast quantities. He was disappointed too as he was sure I was right. As he’d already gone 3 metres more than he’d been instructed to go I can see his predicament. However, he was happy for me to go and try out the next well which won’t be for a month or more.
I’ve attended a course in this Mahikari I mentioned in the last letter and can now ‘give light’ – it still seems remarkable but anyway. But it seems to attract people who neet it.
My jaunt to dowse a section was interesting. I’d said I had no qualifications, and he assured me it was whether you had it or not that mattered! We marched round this dreary section, which had been covered over with tarmac and used as a car park, and the council had a competition going for the best building that could go on it… It came out very odd, and I suspect there was an old cess pit and a large soakaway, it was over a swamp, in a gully, I think the person who said it was not fit for habitation would win any competition. Then I got a very strong reaction at one point… and since coming home and trying to make sense of it, I got a book (the only one they had!) from the library, which told me all the things I didn’t know… I think the council had cut off all the old pipes which are now holding polluted water, and the big cess pit and soakaway the same, and there is one new pipe right down the new boundary not quite as deep as the old one, so now I wait hopefully! – shall be told how wrong or not I was.
I didn’t realise you needed another licence [for a motorbike] as I imagined that you had a full driving licence, but I suppose that sort of thing went out after the war or some time ages ago and one takes it in bits now? I still rejoice that I can drive a tractor or a heavy van or something (all without taking one at all and I would undoubtedly fail a test!!) What this elderly lady does about turning round on a push bike and signalling and so forth is extremely vague – I usually try to turn round – find I am a bit bad at twiddling my neck/shoulders – take a hasty glance and not really see anything and then stick out a wavering hand and proceed rapidly across the main road to the safety of the lane. Alternatively I suddenly hop off at the crossing and run across at my fastest speed as cars zoom up a hill quite blind and suddenly appear ready to run me down.
We watched the fireworks that go off down in the town from our balcony and then went to bed. Town on New Year’s is disgusting. Everyone is drunk and kissing everyone else!! So we don’t venture down there anymore.
We all had lovely things and a good time was had by all, with the children quite often spontaneously remembering to thank and at least two of the three capable of opening a parcel without tearing the paper to shreds and losing the all important label!
Then came a huge milestone in my life – my 50th and I celebrated in style. On the actual night a dinner at a wonderful new fish restaurant. Then a few days later I had a champagne breakfast for 20 girlfriends at a popular local restaurant.
I was vastly amused when a bit of wedding cake appeared in the post. The postage by air must have been staggering. Anyhow as you can imagine the stamps go down big with X and the two eldest grandchildren as they are all avid collectors and join in big sessions with the swaps and catalogue when they are at home. To go back to the cake… it was gobbled at once and no-nonsense about sleeping with a bit under the pillow.
I had a nice day – X baked me a gorgeous cake and I demanded a slice this year, diabetes or not, and actually got it. I had a good day even though it wasn’t like being at home. The sun is shining and I’m going outside.
We went to a friend’s for dinner and my dustbin of a child came up with this beauty: he’d had a large dinner and pudding and held out his plate, put on a pathetic expression and whimpered questioningly, ‘Food for the poor?’
Your Christmas sounded ‘unusual’ to say the least. I was amused by your saga of the disappearing turkey – there’s something rather bizarre about a half turkey getting mislaid. The old dears sleeping off lunch reminded me of a dinner party I went to. There were about 12 of us there and at about 10 p.m. people progressively decided that a brief snooze would improve their subsequent conversation – so they simply keeled over on the floor one after the other and went to sleep. There I was left, suffering from an inhibited upbringing, and the only one awake!
[Gift of a kite may explain – or not] Thank you for the kite. I flew it after we went roller-blading today… Sorry the letter is late. There wasn’t enough wind.
Thankyou for the blundiebus mirror, and the milky peewees (I bet you think I’ve lost my marbles!) No, seriously, they’re choice and so is the marble book and that impossible jigsaw puzzle.
thanks for the fun fliers. Live is going well apart from cofs and senezos. School has bene going well a part from sume upsets in th second turm.
Thank you for the money. School is beter than I thort. In Fact it is MUCH better than you thort. I am olso having drum lersons. it is cool. I Will pobebly get a c.d. ore a vido with my present. PS Thank you. by X
& somewhat older:
Thank you very much for the money you sent for my birthday. I didn’t actually buy a drink with it, I bought a hacksaw which I was in dire need of so thank you very much.
No way can I tell you how greatly I enjoyed the wonderful afternoon you gave me. Best of all seeing your splendid little house and charming garden and now being able to visualise what goes on in your busy life!
Thank you for giving me such a lovely day at X again. I’ve never not had a splendid time with you but this time was best of all.
“We went on to see the current exhibition in the gallery, which was called ‘Townscape’ although they were interpreting the title pretty widely since there were normal portraits, abstract squares of paint, three pigeons on a lawn and a variety of other subjects not easily identified as urban. The usual mixture, so far as I was concerned, of about half and half admirable, and ‘why-on-earth-did-they-accept-that?’ pictures.”
[Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe] “The balustrades were added years later as the nuns were afraid to slip and fall. The beauty of the original wooden free-standing structure is breathtaking when you see it from behind. It is a strange story, the unknown carpenter who left without his pay as soon as he had finished the staircase. In the cathedral some of the stained glass windows are impressive – we noticed some had been made in Chartres.”
“X may have a commission – may! She called me at 2 a.m. I could have throttled her.”
“X [grandchild] gave me a pomander which smells very strongly – and for [grandfather] so he wouldn’t feel left out he gave him an old brown envelope stuck down – right down at the bottom was a flattened toffee paper, with 2 scrumpled toffee papers stuck on and a red ribbon bow and he explained it was for him to hang in his wardrobe!”
“Thankyoufor your very kind Xmas present! I was very excited to receive it!!! I had been looking at a beautiful coat rack for our hallway – and your gift bought that!…”
“…Talking of rudeness, we agreed with her that he was somewhat lacking in consideration. It was one thing to take us up on our invitation at 24 hours notice – it was only for a night anyway; and to expect to stay another two nights with her; but on top of that we gather he turned up with the others without any prior notice at all and is proposing to stay a fortnight! Nor did anyone get so much as a postcard to say thank you…”
“What joy to have read you, and heard you; now the seeing is missing!…”
“…Luckily I had a nice letter from [someone else] before Christmas as otherwise I was beginning to think the country had sunk below the sea as there were no thanks for money orders forthcoming despite early postage. But perhaps they all felt they must wait until the 25th before writing to acknowledge!…”
“Thank you for the note. Yes, it was my painting at the library. I’m glad you liked it…”
And some are just a bit dilatory!
“Thank you for your nice letter which I should have replied to sooner, and also the the one before that. Thank you also for the t-shirt which you sent me. I have in fact started other letters, but on reading them through I decided they sounded so sad and morbid that they got no further than the waste paper basket beside me…”
“An embarrassingly late note to say thank you for the pepper pot – an invaluable part of our cooking tools. We had a great ‘Moon’ in Italy – seeing a huge number of churches and bowls of pasta…”
“…I am so glad you went to town literally on your wardrobe (not that I thought it needed this consideration and that remark might have been put better!) What I meant was that a day pushing round London and getting yourself one or two necessities before embarking on the journey must have been refreshing despite the crowds, after the dreary end of term affairs with your clients – you must have been thankful to see the back of them for a short week or two. Now I have just reread this paragraph and it sounds as though you sailed up the road sitting on the bloody wardrobe – too much food yesterday maybe and it has dulled the brain…
“Quite amusing on Christmas Eve taking the library trolley round to the few patients in over the holiday… There was a ‘Drop in’ for the volunteers for 3 hours – at which I failed to drop as I was busy babysitting… Much to my relief I may say as I find jollities like that very embarrassing and hard work. Had the usual huge collection of cards from people I see every week and never dream of sending one to – I try to train them not to bother but it doesn’t work! Such a silly waste of effort and money but very kind of them…”