Ageing

My father died early in the year. It was a sad event, but a release in one way. He didn’t really know what was going on any more… My mother did seem to realise he had died, although she cannot communicate. She just cried and looked very depressed on the day of the funeral. She seems to have recovered her spirits: with dementia it is just impossible to tell what they are thinking.

Did you know that mum’s two brothers died this summer? I’m afraid we are in those years when people who seemed immortal suddenly are not!

Here not much happens so it becomes increasingly difficult to make it happen – staff shortage but no shortage of confused residents. They are now building on in order to take day centre people thus adding to still more confusion!

X has had a minor stroke I think, so shuffles along like a 90-year-old and gets lost for words and gets so annoyed when I can’t guess what he means – I am getting better at it, I think! He still drives to the local shop when I don’t go out – he must have his daily paper! He takes the dog round the garden and worries where the cat is all day and at night too! It is rather trying!

a bit doddery

I got an unexpected phone call from a writer. He’s written a biography of Mary Wesley who was among many things in MI5. Apparently I’m one of the few – in fact only person – old enough to remember her when she was married to her first husband. Having discovered that I’m ninety he was in a great hurry to see me!

I’m getting so dotty that I shall soon have to get a Carer which is depressing – all my old friends seem to be either dead or in nursing homes and not liking the intense loneliness which goes with most old age.

I was so sorry to hear of your mother’s sickness and dying, it’s a hard time to through, the best comfort is to be thankful she has no more suffering and problems. I sometimes wish my mother could see something then I realise she is far better off and happier where she is anyhow!

Non-sequiturs

Actually X plans to work in NZ next summer. She has worked in Oz so can’t get another work permit for Australia so NZ is the place! Did you hear that Y’s [totally unrelated person to previous] husband committed suicide last New Year – a terrible time for them all.

It’s best to be there when they begin to hatch in the night to keep the crabs off the baby turtles. Mrs. X ailing, so I may not be here for my whole 2 years.

We are hopping

[from child] We used to have 2 rabbits but one ran away, and we are hopping [sic] to find her the one that ran away was named Thumper and the other is named Midnight. I better go know because I are going to help mummy tidy my room.

My favourite dinosaur is Apatasaurus. I got a sellotape for Christmas.

He had a career choice dilemma which he solved thus: ‘On one side I’ll be a fire engine driver and on the other I’ll be Father Christmas.’

I wish I was better at living alone and that people would stop telling me what fun it must be looking at Sainsbury’s! [Flat is in block opposite the store.]

Infirmity

… two nights with the old 93-year old cousin, full of woe as the family home has to be sold and she is miserable although she can’t live there without a ‘keeper’ as she will keep falling down on her arthritic legs.

Scottish Dancing is his passion in life which she cannot do because she has a back, or something. [We know what you mean!]

Yes, how X needs a break… I remember her as the Golden Girl with everything going right for her.

A good resolution for the winter will be to type for 20 minutes each day to make my fingers work right, but I may have left it too late and I shall never get out of the habit of using the wrong fingers when the correct ones bend the wrong way! But if I could make them a bit more pliant it would help.

I seem to be getting the rheumatics in my shoulders and arms and my hands look pretty peculiar and some fingers leave go of things at the wrong moment and although my toes are permanently numb and blue they don’t actually seem to be falling off.

A thorn in my side this year has been my temporary assistant. The present occupant works about quarter time at best. She is always ‘sick’, and never even apologetic or worried about it. Personally I think a good shaking would do a great deal to improve the situation, however it doesn’t feature as a motivator in any of the personnel manuals. .. We are unable to terminate her employment as she continues to bring certificates.

It is a bore and very ancient-making to be crawling everywhere like a decrepit crab instead of stepping out!

Like a crab

 

Employment hassles

Your work situation seems as harrowing as mine, though in a different way. I get annoyed at needing to do everything myself to make sure it gets done properly (or at all) but not being allowed to. I exploded recently at the finance man who blamed his inadequacy on the ‘fact’ that I ‘don’t understand Portuguese very well’ (!) when it’s patently obvious that I understand it so well that I am in danger of catching him out in his little games.

I was unable to take any leave. The Corporation works in a way unique to itself I think, and I have found myself acting in a position for nearly a year now. By the time things get back to normal it will be over a year. During this time I have also acted in a yet higher position for four months, having two (three counting myself) untrained staff to look after. Of course, no one asked me whether I wanted to do it, or even seemed to think whether or not I might be capable of it. I was exhausted after that little effort, and have managed to have one week’s leave which was just wonderful.

I worry about you a bit – you are earning enough to eat properly aren’t you? It’s so damnable that anything one enjoys doing so often doesn’t give financial return.

Her schoolgirl daughter has been giving me a hand in the garden and is quite useful although I really prefer doing it alone! Still it provides extra pocket-money for her…

Mayoral aspirations

It looks doubtful that the contract will be renewed after the second year, however things may change. Hopefully the Council will take pity on me. However, it generally can see more justification in a prestigious car for the Lord Mayor than in employing a few more people.

Doctors

My doctor is very aggrieved that I was so upset by his phoning late with his news of my blood test, and mumbles he won’t tell me anything in future if I get so worried about it. He insists now that about 10% of the people locally would very likely have it and I could have gone for years without knowing if I hadn’t had a blood test and anyway he didn’t diagnose it, it’s in my notes from five years ago, but the results showed it was getting worse this test.

I am absolutely delighted with ‘obsessional slowness’ and ‘pathological procrastination’ as the words fit a number of everybody’s symptoms. What will they think of next as a sensible diagnosis to offer a grown man?

A rattle in his chest

They have been spending the day with us, which was lovely. The baby had a rotten ‘rattle’ and ear trouble. They’d been in to see the doctor on the way here. I think it’s fortunate he and his wife are to be the godparents – doctors’ fees have gone up per visit! Part of the new budget. And prescriptions. Already two people have died because they couldn’t afford a weekend visit to the doctor. In fact ‘they’ now say this should never happen – but the poor don’t know.

My doctor said if it didn’t clear up then I’d better take a self-destruct pill, I wasn’t feeling well enough to think it funny, it’d lasted six months. Incidentally I did change my doctor and now go to the woman, who seems very understanding, but has the slightly chilling habit of not saying anything so you’re inclined to say more than you intended!

Jobs

I’ve pretty much decided to give up on teaching for a career. I like teaching, but I’m not very good at the crowd-control side of the job.

I’ve been doing a month’s relieving 45 minutes drive away. It went OK I suppose but it was a bit hairy in parts – the last 4 weeks of a 15-week term is not an idea time to take over an undisciplined class! However. It’s a shame for the kids having 3 teachers in a year actually – especially as there’s not much else that’s stable at home for many of them around the school area.

engineer au pair

 

This change of plan meant X had to get her au pair a little earlier than expected and a lady from Turkey arrived just a few weeks ago. She has just finished University and is now an Industrial Engineer. Her English is limited but, being a very clever lady, is improving every day. She hopes to stay here for a year whilst her fiance is doing   his National Service.

 

X continues to be a complete mystery to me. Programmers really are on a different planet from the rest of us humans but, nevertheless, he is successful and enjoys what he does. No parent can ask more than that!

I’m supposed to find which diseases the butterfly caterpillars (which we export as pupae to live butterfly displays in UK and USA) die of and prevent them…

I am in a bit of a quandary at work. My boss is not managing as coherently (I can’t think how else to phrase it) as he was. In fact, I think he has got steadily worse over the last two years. During the last couple of weeks he has behaved quite irrationally on occasion. As there is no one much to observe this who can advise him to take all of that leave which is owing to him, I think I may have to take a rather drastic step and go and talk to someone about it. I don’t want him to have a breakdown. I feel like a tattletale.

Your new regime sounds ‘challenging’ if very hard work and I hope it won’t wear you out, particularly with a bossy boss. How I loathe the type who send peremptory notes and I do hope I wasn’t like that in the days when I ran a department! To [our family], who are always right, it comes hard doesn’t it?

Employment here is very bad, except if one has specific qualifications and experience e.g. mining engineer, accountant and top-level managerial experience. I have an interview for a job next week. The job is assistant archivist. I don’t know why they are even interviewing me, but perhaps there weren’t many real archivists who applied.

I muddle along as best I can. It’s a real case of ‘do what you can where you are with what you’ve got’!

It seems that as usual my out-of-date fantasy about having very little work in August and doing things like going home early and tidying the desk drawers, is indeed a fantasy, as I have to write the Annual Report by the end of August, complete with graphs and appendices etc., write various bids, re-vamp part of our education service, and finalise a whole range of service advice leaflets and programmes.

Your last letter relayed all the health problems you ended up with after the row with your boss. Wasn’t worth it, was it? I developed a back problem I think as a result of long hours and too much SITTING, SITTING, SITTING!!! Fortunately it came right on its own, or with the help of the change in jobs. I was so miserable in my work I think my mind was looking for ways to put an end to the stress if you know what I mean.

 

Money

I happen to be the most useless person in the world at keeping track of my finances (there are as yet undiscovered African tribesmen who could maintain a bank account better), and at the time of the wedding – and many times since, I’m embarrassed to say – I was seriously wobbly in a fiscal sense.

I have just vented my spleen on the local hospital management as a protest at the monstrous charges we have to pay under the reformed, streamlined, user-pays, homogenised, de-humanised health ‘service’. I’ll probably have to pay in the end but I guess a protest on the way won’t go amiss! I recently heard of a person who wrote to say she wasn’t paying on principle. The bill was handed to debt collectors. Their fifth letter contained the information that they had ensured that she now had the lowest credit rating possible and that in future no business in the country would lend her money, allow hire purchase or give her a mortgage.

I am very interested in the Heseltine-Thatcher quarrel, as Westland shares are one of my few remaining English investments. Obviously whoever wins the quarrel, I have lost most of my money in the company already – but at least if their future is worth squabbling about, presumably they are not going to be left to go down the drain without trace, and might one day get back to paying dividends and being worth more than the 2 1/2p that they are proposing to write the shares down to at present!

She seized half his capital and all the furnishings of his house. She then refused all his many offers of maintenance for the offspring and insisted on fighting it out in the courts at a cost in lawyers of some strange amount to each party. Then the judge by some miracle awarded her much less than X had offered her in the first place so she is ever skulking around sniffing for more!

I am alarmed at your state of having 2 mortgages and no job… I never have enough money – who does? – so for the past 8 months I have been taking in a student lodger… It has worked quite well – but of course it meant a lot of heaving around of stuff from one bedroom to another and the loss of privacy.

X wrote to me and said he was in S.E. Asia again until March. He must be about 90 by now. I hope if I live that long, that I’ll be able to get about like him at that age. (Silly idea really – I certainly won’t have enough money.)

no water

I moved into X’s house… He’s on leave… As soon as I moved in I found an unpaid electricity bill, I paid that and was pleased to have averted a crisis. Then I found an unpaid water bill and paid that. There was still water in the tank, so I didn’t know the water had already been cut off until the afternoon of 24th December.