Taking advantage

Many thanks indeed for your letter and all that most useful information – I’m now hoping I didn’t give a fortune away when I gave [away] D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Last Poems’ 1st Edition…a rather unworthy recipient and I don’t suppose I shall ever hear from him again. He was so enthusiastic that I thought perhaps he should have it! I’m now going to order the Guide to 1st Editions before I do any more…

I think your friend should get quite a bit for D.H. Lawrence if in good condition [Oh dear!], also for Katherine Mansfield, especially the Hogarth editions… Dust wrappers are important, if the books were originally published with them.

Life has been a bit thwarting here. I was heavily conned by a clever salesman who came when I was sleepy after lunch and not thinking. He managed to make me think he came from the Council and was offering to add to the loft insulation on a grant for the poor and aged… I said I would have it done. Why I didn’t ask the local Council whether they were reliable or not I don’t know, but there is still time as needless to say they gave me a day when they were in the area and I stayed in on tenterhooks from 9 to 5 and not a peep out of them. Was I mad? Yes.

But, as you can imagine, X [the tutor] enjoyed the holiday and did some painting himself but the tutoring was virtually Nil – I can hear you say I told you! We all complained finally.

But these estate agents! There was one X had grave doubts about buying anything from on the grounds that he wore elastic-sided shoes – and when we met him I saw what she meant. He ought really to have been selling the sleazier sort of secondhand cars. The one who was dealing with the house she is angling for seemed a very pleasant and apparently honest man, and yet he swore blind that the electric wiring had been renewed – which I found it impossible to believe, because there was not a new switch or plug in the house.

Having the terminal at home means that his boss rings him up at weekends or even when he’s on holiday to ask him to sort out various problems! … The next day, I unplugged the phone… Now I just take messages but don’t pass them on if it’s out of office hours! … One of the big problems of the recession is that people who have jobs are so scared of losing them they work longer and longer hours just to hold on to them, and employers like to take advantage of this!

a wife is determined to stop business interference in home time
pulling the plug

 

Significant other

He’s very nice (well, obviously I would think so). He’s very outgoing and has a good sense of humour and is a very caring sort of person too. He gets really involved in what he’s doing and will try his hand at most things. If he’s playing a game he’s quite competitive.

…she was never an amicable woman and made his life a misery and I do not know why he stayed with her at all.

Marriage troubles were pending I knew; finally I slept in the flat for 6 months and threatened my husband ‘we see a counsellor, or move out!!’ Anyhow we have had a breakthrough, although at present I wait for friends to arrive as he won’t see the counsellor any more.

 

he might still be smoking but he's not fat - yet
comparing negatives

I found he had cigarette stubs by his bed again. She says she’d rather he smoked than get fat.

 

We set off after the first night of Club Pairs which I’m playing with a v. pleasant woman this year as X and I seem to be out of step bridge-wise. I think we both do too many psychic bids as we know the other one won’t mind!

X had his hair cut and looked much more presentable – said he was getting a complex as everyone was commenting! It was not I might say at his family’s behest but his girlfriend’s – he sounded quite worried at how obedient he was being!

She is into a great romance with a nice bearded young man who runs a very large property for his father (who is horrid) and will no doubt inherit eventually. Do you think I am very mercenary? But I do like to think of my little darlings being in a stable financial situation and not having to fret over electric bills etc. Of course it may come to nothing!

Art

My friend the R.C. Bishop called me to see if I had any paintings for the art show last Saturday. Having done absolutely no painting all year due to this and that, I was able to dredge up three old ones – two had to be framed in a hurry. But I was pleased they all sold in the first hour – I said I’d give their charity half the proceeds. I must say, a more undistinguished bunch of paintings in the show I have never seen. It was in much too large a venue – last year it was in the house next door and there was a smaller much more distinguished collection shown to better advantage.

My day with X began in Piccadilly, ended in St. James’ and was very ‘full’ and ‘successful’ i.e. I finally got to the gallery only 16 months after the exhibition that I’d wanted to see had opened!… I thought you might be interested in this Samuel Palmer. It’s possible they still have the picture there – I enquired re one from the 4-months-old similar exhibition to the original one which was unsold in the basement… Yes, I’m thinking I might make a further (small!) purchase…? [small purchase: a Samuel Palmer???]

 

There is so much bad painting here – what I call ‘brown paintings’ – peasants and palm trees and mud-coloured mountains – boring.

a dull day with heavy rain coming in the Caribbean
a brown painting

 

There is also an unfinished cross I started some years ago – a construction of copper mosaic that I have enamelled. My kiln is a small one so have to think in terms of linking large work together. The cross depicts Alpha & Omega – plenty of colour – slimy mud and things at the base and volcanoes and night & day with a sun at the top. Am intending to mount it on a super piece of oak that I found in a builder’s yard – weathered and worn to a gorgeous silver patina – it was at one time a tail board from a small farm cart – I guess 100 years or more past.

…Some splendid Monets – I bought a poster of the Floating Studio – now I know why he did so many waterlilies! The gallery had done the walls the same colour as Barnes had used, which was a rather nasty sort of yellow ochre which I did not think was a very good background for the pictures – but who am I?? They did a big photomontage of one of his hanging arrangements, which was very interesting, as he mixed such different things and made such balanced sort of compositions.

Looking through some of my earlier efforts I came on some things that I did before my pot-boiling flowers and was quite impressed. I must do some more buildings and portraits – I have got into such a rut, but the flowers sell like hot bread and it tempts me.

I think she is such a good artist. Her family are quite unimpressed with her work, and it all seems to be done on odd bits of paper and the backs of envelopes and I am sure will disappear when she dies. There were a couple of portrait heads, Indian?, that I would give my eyeteeth to own, also a landscape in mixed media.

I have been painting quite a lot. X, my grand-daughter, was over with her aunt who also paints flowers, not nearly as well as I do (!) and is peddling them to tourists on the coast, and I was so incensed it gave me the prod I needed. X has contacts with galleries over there and will help me place mine.

I was interested to hear of the Byam Shaw man – I was taught there by a marvellous teacher, Ernest Jackson, only drawing. The painting end was too heavy for me – Prix de Rome stuff a way over my head.

 

 

Things fall apart

a woman gets on with it herself
one-woman demolition company

I have made the quite drastic decision to demolish this house, and build another on the site. I could see the roof needed replacing. Then I thought of the damp… and of the back of the house now with a nice sag to it and not likely to last too many more years.

We have had an awful election with much violence, cheating and skulduggery of all kinds. It’s really pointless giving these ignorant yobs a vote as all they really want to do is have a good fight and shoot each other – very depressing.

The poor old Morris just went. I think someone must have been looking after me, as the engine just died in a most convenient spot as far as limping into a free parking space right by, and getting home without any bother.

Why, oh why, should the good Lord send all the plagues of Egypt to settle on your flat or its neighbour? It does seem a little hard, but I hope it won’t end in boils on you as well.

They are in the midst of a horrible divorce and he still suffers from depression. Just hope things can be finalised in the next few months – I’m sure he will recover when the pressure and rows are over.

Having moved so often I was surprised how stressful I found it this time round, until I realised it was the first time I had orchestrated a move a) while holding down a job, and b) with no maid to fetch and carry and clean! (Maids, who were once the norm here, have become a luxury since the gov’t imposed a relatively high minimum wage for them. All very commendable in theory, but it has also meant many are now unaffordable and therefore unemployed.)

She has just divorced her husband – he seems to be suffering from a severe mid-life crisis. Gone completely off his head – not with women, just with life. His factory was closed down due to debt and he seems to have lost everything he owned and it is not bad luck, it is sheer poor management and total irresponsibility.

 

 

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.

Church / religion

One of the more interesting details was the hairdo of the smaller of the two candle-bearing girls. I suppose she might have been fifteen. Her hair was short and dark, but with most of the ends well-blonded. It just struck me as unusual as a combination with serving in church.

There was an interview on TV, on Sunday evening, between one of our better known TV personalities and Lloyd Geering. The first is a declared (almost militant) atheist, and by the end of the interview I did rather agree with his view that Lloyd Geering is an atheist too, though he disguises it under what the interviewer described as gobbledygook … when he said things like ‘God is a word which we use as a symbol for possessing a system of values’… Actually he has lots of good ethical ideas, but like most humanists seems to think that if he can get people to agree on what are the right ‘values’ all will be well, ignoring the fact that no one manages to live up to their ideas (even with the grace of God to help them, let alone without). But you can’t help liking him!

Too cold for church

In the cold weather I have temporarily abandoned church – it is too freezing cold to get out of bed in time for the 8 a.m. and the church is so cold for the longer 10 o’clock that I go numb during the service. We have our new vicar starting this coming week so I shall have to reform soon and become a faithful if inattentive attender.

We went in the evening to the Salvation Army. The new Captain and wife, only recently arrived, started dead on time and finished in 50 minutes. They collect most of the congregation in their car and a van, which gives them the whip-hand in the matter of timing!

In the morning service, X declared (in a whisper) that she wouldn’t sing one of the hymns because she didn’t like it so she was going to sing something else. She didn’t, of course, but the funny thing was that on the next carol, Y did! He started singing the second verse (which he swears always used to be the first)!