It was very nice to see them but I confess that 48 hours is about as much as I can take. I do find it very wearing to be addressed in the same stentorian roar that X uses, but with a great deal more persistence by Y. I suppose it’s a mixture of being small, and the third, together with going to school, that makes the habit.
[and more later on the roar] He makes most of his remarks as though addressing the foc’sle from the bridge in half a gale – perhaps he should have a course in reading poetry or something to break down his steady monotone roar! But I was impressed with his farewell – thanking me for coming, hoping I had a good trip, sending love to Grannie and so on – all, I think, quite off his own bat.
We went to a pre-Christmas party at a house with a pool and I told the boys to wait till I got outside. Well they didn’t, they jumped straight in. When I got outside 2 minutes later X was sitting in someone’s lap, blue in the face – he’d sunk straight to the bottom and fortunately someone saw him on the way down for the second time and hauled him out. After comforting him and thinking he wouldn’t go near water again he climbed straight back in and played around happily at the edge or with me for close on an hour!
She told her mother at lunch time that ‘this morning my news at school was that mummy had tidied my room’!
He’s a very proud member of the school’s ‘bantam’ rugby team. The school took part in a tournament about 50 miles away last weekend. I took 4 of the boys down and was appointed team manager for some obscure reason. My serious application to the task of training, warming up and in-game sideline advice achieved little but a sore throat and much hilarity from the other parents – we lost one game, won one game and were knocked out after the first series of games.
We are hastily thinking up some games for X’s 4th birthday party, which is about 20 kids from her pre-prep school. I think we shall be mad and exhausted at the end of it!! They have to be very simple games as X is not so bright at picking up a new idea and is also not the world’s most sterling loser so we shall probably have tears – and Y just doesn’t bother if he feels like wrecking it anyhow.
His mother can’t do a thing with X now – he just says ‘no no no’ and tells her not to shout at him!!
X has now produced two teeth – she is as unfriendly as ever – I don’t touch her if I can help it – she screams blue murder. Fortunately her mother has a 16 year old sitter who lives opposite and she’s the one person X accepts beside her parents so now they leave the children at home usually in an evening which is much better.
She has become a most attractive little girl – in looks and personality – some get better and t’others get worse – X is a real whiner – even when cheerful (which isn’t often) she whines – drives her father round the bend.
I was staggered – not to say horrified whilst in the home – as there were two kids one of 15 and another of 16 having babies ( this – apparently – is average) and on the day I was discharged there was a girl of 18 who was having – wait for it – her 4th!!! (She was married).
X’s birthday was great fun. You should have seen him eating his cake – it was really funny. First he picked it all up and screwed and squashed it between his fingers; then with the one remaining whole piece which was about 3″ long he picked it up in the middle and squashed all the middle part hard into his mouth so that lots oozed out of the sides.
[Re child of 4] He’s got quite a sense of humour and has also started to do naughty things – like throwing X’s pyjamas out of the window which makes him much more human. I’d previously felt he was just too good to be true! The children played lots of pretend games while there and since she’s been back we’ve had cows under the bed, piggies in the meat trays that have to be fed half a weetbix every morning and little ghost monsters who have lost mummies and daddies and have to be given a drink of milk and then taken home!
X is doing so well recently – I wish you could see him. He’s now spoon-feeding himself and drinking out of a cup alone. (He’ll even put his spoons in his bowl when he’s finished now – the latest manners I’ve taught him, which was very difficult as he likes to keep them to bang on the table!)
She brought the boys over on Friday plus the others who were overlapping for two days. [So, 4 grand-children.] We had quite a good day with a batch of games to be played and scored for an overall prize – not too much competitiveness though: both X and Y are liable to near-tears if they get beaten at anything.
He is quite sweet as far as newborn babies go! Has blackish hair and nothing very outstanding. Neither big nor small – 7 lb 5 oz and medium size nose – his eyes look vaguely Chinese at the moment but I think that’s cos he’s hardly opened them yet being only about 38 hours old!
X’s boys have had their usual calamities – a brick came out of the wall with their help and gashed one just above his eyebrow. The doctor couldn’t stitch it but used special plaster that had to be left on for days and looked pretty gory. The next day she left two of them in the car whilst in the shop and when she came back one was weeping blood and tears – I fear Y must have poked his finger in his eyes. Fortunately it was the whites that were bloody. It was the day of the oldest’s birthday tea and she had to go and sit for an hour in the surgery before the doctor could see him.
He apparently saw MASH whilst in hospital and when we revisited the hospital for his check-up he looked very respectfully at a passing stretcher complete with old lady being wheeled up to the theatre and stage-whispered to me, ‘She’s going up to God, isn’t she’. After much ssshing and after she was out of earshot, I asked him what on earth he meant, and explained that they were called stretchers, and were for people who were too sick to sit up but had to be moved around. ‘Oh no they’re not,’ he said ‘you go on those when you get killed in the war and two men in white coats wheel you up to God. They’re called God’s cars’!! We’ve now sorted this out.
She went by herself to play with a little friend nearby the other day and when she returned I enquired whether she had enjoyed herself. ‘Oh yes, but she was a bit shiny when I got there’. I asked her what she meant and she replied, ‘Well, she hid behind her mummy and wouldn’t come out for a little bit.’
The little one has started the hiding-under-the-table-with-the-sugar-basin phase. T’other day I caught her trying to squeeze into the bottom shelf of the fridge with caramel yogurt and a spoon, and a couple of days later I caught her sitting in the rubbish box with her back to me tucking into the remaining half of X’s birthday chocolate.
My aunties took me to the zoo and we saw two politicians.
To acquire votes, one must kiss old people and babies and that spreads disease.
It is easier to have a baby if you are a cat.
On Saturday we were having dinner with some friends including the headmistress. After about an hour’s conversation – during which time both the girls had been asked if they would like to read – or even watch TV – X announced, suddenly, that this conversation was getting even more boring and could we change the subject and she’d tell us a joke… The headmistress who is used to 1000+ kids jumping to her every command was somewhat taken aback, needless to say!!
[Dictated letter of thanks from 4 year old] I bought a cash register with my money. It has money and a credit card. It has a scanner that goes ping. We play shops with it with mummy and the boys and daddy and my friends. We play libraries too. We have been to X with the youth group. We went biking up the hill. We saw swans and ducks and horses. We loved the horses. They went galloping. We played on the park there. I like the swings.
X has been having rough time with his group friends – hopefully solved now. I gathered yesterday that whatever rejection he’d been experiencing wasn’t entirely unreciprocated and he’d been name-calling. When asked, he told me he’d just been using ‘extraordinary, grown-up words and X didn’t understand’ – Hmm!!
Teacher’s question: What do you do if you’re hungry? Answer: I eat my boiled egg and Mum will eat the yukky bits.
I use the purse quite a lot for putting my money in it. It is usufall because my other purse has just brock.
Mummy gave me a culb [corrected in father’s hand to cube] and X mucked it up for me (I was glad because I wouldn’t dear tough [corrected in father’s hand to touch] it. I was scard to.) Our trip was grate and pusy was very good she sleept and walked around. [Well, a letter is not to be sneezed at even with spelling mistakes!]
Dear X. I guess she is only being ‘normal’ but, oh dear, it is very trying. She has a very cunning ability to pick one bit out of a conversation, and use it totally to her own advantage … I’m not used to such cunningly contrived and clever conversations, and she usually has me floundering at least once a day. The trouble is – when do clever quips become downright insolence?!!
We started the term with a language unit on Noah’s Ark. The kids did some stories today telling the story from one point of view or another. Some of them had lovely bits of dialogue e.g. God said to Noah, “Build an ark, there’s going to be a flood.” “But Go-”. “No buts.”! Or after Noah had told the three sons how to build the ark they all said, “Got you.”!
He seems to have no concept of time when he’s actually playing. He’ll clap it right and then play it quite differently and say he’s done it the same – “I AM doing that.” Oh dear. I tried a tape recorder and he just grinned and said, “Well, I like it better that way”!
We were fascinated with two tidbits of news [grandchild] gave us – one she told the people she visited after us that her family was coming south and may be staying with them – which rather surprised the wife!
X gave a fulsome introduction to the man proposing Y’s health which went v. well and Y much affected replied. He’s the most modest boy. [Grandmother] said how well all the boys had grown up and [mother] was a wonderful mother and had made such a good job of them – no mention of [her son, the father]!
X was despondent with her daughter who went into her teens by dyeing her hair pink and had a nose ring and was threatened with being expelled. X says she’s got old rather sooner than she’d expected!
Isn’t it fun X [grandchild] being a mouse in the ballet? Evidently all went well.
Well, I eventually wrote to X [‘grown-up’ grandchild] with a copy of my letter that had made her cross, and she coloured in all the bits she didn’t like and answered by number … So I replied in kind and trust we’re not now cut off. Her affectionate ending didn’t really make up for verging on being impertinent, but I did say I thought that was because she needed a dictionary. [And in a later letter] The fracas got quite out of hand ending with a venomous letter. I’ve now burnt the file, but it simmers inside me.
The man talked to me and seemed pleasant and said they hadn’t expected to have their son with them, and be free to do their own thing. The son was a v. large 30-ish man with big black beard and dressed in black leather all over. Later I was talking to him; he was ready to answer any remark but didn’t initiate anything. When I asked if he had any friends near he said most of them were in X, and I didn’t click until I got home his father had said, ‘He has problems’… I went over and asked our ex-neighbour if she knew anything I didn’t and told her of the remarks made, and she was very shirty with me, and said she couldn’t possibly ask them what he went to the hospital for, which wasn’t what I’d asked her. Only as I was walking out of the door said, ‘I only know he’s schizophrenic.’ I called over to say hello yesterday. The father looked pretty downcast. Poor dears, anything like that is so much worse than our tribulations, and we’ve had more than our fair share, I think.
We arrived with them before dark so had some time with the boys too – rescued the little one having a ball with large pot of Vaseline from bathroom cupboard.
I took them to the rec – walked – and that was marvellous. X was a bit indignant when I had to help him down the ‘fireman’s pole’ – but suffered me to help him onto it as his arms are too short!!!
I do still play Bridge on Monday mornings, so I am mixing with some non-church folk. Not getting far yet with them on the spiritual side – but I chip away at it. And next week I start ‘wife sitting’ with a woman in our church who does not dare stay alone when her husband is away. (It is not really a problem since my dog had cancer and I had to have her put down recently.)
Met also one of his daughters who has 6 boys (very Catholic family); we sang grace at the table.
He built his own house and was very proud of it – with first class materials, solid enough to last many centuries. I can’t compete with that, but I can go to church and pray, as he suggested also!
I found the article and subsequent letters about the man with the gift of tongues very interesting. The magazine showed a nice balance between supportive and sceptical letter! It all accorded very well with such experience as I have had. I must confess that I have always been a bit sceptical about the gift of interpretation of tongues, and have regarded the gift itself as much more for encouraging and bringing joy to the person who has it than for the enlightenment of other people. I have occasionally been at meetings where someone has spoken in tongues and someone else has interpreted – but have been disappointed by the rather platitudinous nature of the interpretation, which did not seem worthy of the Holy Spirit (though maybe the Spirit did not think we were ready to accept anything more startling?)
I have just joined a new Church – OXYGEN LIFE! Very lively, described as a New Testament Church, bursting with young families with children. I think I am the only person over 70! No church doctrine to worry about – only the Bible.
We had lunch and then a video of the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury – or at least of bits of it: about 40 minutes worth out of a couple of hours. The atmosphere was not altogether improved by the tape being put into fast forward at intervals, to speed up some of the interminable processions with which the affair started, which invariably caused the clergy widows to burst out laughing.
X is on a course with Mahikari – which she has gone overboard about. I fear for her a little and am in the middle of a huge book about it, but have warned her if money is involved be suspicious, there have been so many rip offs with various so called Divine Calls.
It was a stupid meeting, really. We had been asked by the powers that be in the diocese to examine the problem of ‘Sexual Harassment’ – about which I found I had nothing to say, except that it appeared to be another name for temptation which we have known for a long long time. So producing ‘Guide lines’ (not for it, but to counter it) seemed rather a waste of time.
We have had a jolly two days tidying up our wills and tomorrow we’re going to see the funeral people and choose what we’ll have and I hope pay for it – and then we can get on living!!!
I think I told you about the huge rat that walked across our skylight when I had an elevenses party. Well, we didn’t catch that but a while ago I saw another smaller one and managed to get X to see it before it scurried off. We set a trap in the skylight and caught two the same size but now they seem to have taken the hint.
The second week of the holiday was somewhat marred by having a wisdom tooth out. It wasn’t too bad but my face swelled more than expected so I looked like an advanced stage of mumps on one side for a while. It’s almost down again now – I can still feel where he pulled my jaw about though.
Whilst I remember, did you ever – Maddening – I can’t remember – something caught my attention and can’t finish that fascinating question!!!
Only four lambs – 50% lambing rate is most shaming! Next year if I still have them I’ll have to find another ram I think. [But later] We now have adorable twin black lambs from a ewe we didn’t think was going to lamb, plus a white one, and one twin that survived, and another is imminent. They make their bed in the oddest way by pawing the ground and when nice and muddy or clear of grass sit in it.
I found my dahlias were at last showing few shoots, so spent a whole afternoon sorting them out into 3 boxes, one that looked too shrivelled to come to life again, another that might, given time, and the third that all had shoots and were ready to plant. I’d promised X some of them and intended sharing the third box, but left the job in the middle and didn’t come back to it for 2 days when I was taking the typewriter to her as she had asked to borrow it, so picked up the box outside the back door and went – yes, you’ve guessed, it was the one with all the good ones in it. I was ridiculously miserable for two days – I’ve enjoyed them so much the last two seasons, I hope she does this season!
I fear I haven’t done very much of the jigsaw, there seem so many things mounting up in the garden and bridge and just living takes a long time!
I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself as the 2nd double tooth broke in half last week, the first one was on the bottom jaw so didn’t show but this one was on the top beside a previous gap. The dentist was away but saw me promptly the day he came back, and said he couldn’t do anything about it as it was too soft, so I’d have to have it out soon. I asked, ‘Like now?’ and he said if he gave me a local whilst he saw the next person just slowly coming up the drive, he’d do it when she left.
My bank statement came and I took ages trying to balance it – finished $100 up on the bank – must be wrong! I think it was last time X did them for me and after 2 days still couldn’t balance it that he said he thought I should die before him. I said I didn’t want to be hurried up I had lots of things I wanted to do!
Sorry I haven’t written more recently (and I haven’t got any decent excuses either – but I could make some up…) ‘Oh, that’s right – I did write three times actually, but the first time a bus splashed muddy water all over it, the second time X thought it was a piece of toast and peanut-buttered it, and the third time it was in my bag when it was stolen. After that, I was just loaded down with 400 hrs of work every week’ !!
It isn’t that I have forgotten about you – it’s just that usually in the evenings, as soon as I hit the chair to relax and write letters, I fall asleep!
Much blushes – I THOUGHT I’d given this to one of the kids to post – but I know what thought did!
I hope you don’t get the same Christmas card as last year. I have to confess I have rounded up all my odd unused cards from previous years’ boxes. (I say unused, as I have some friends who have a standing family joke about their mother – a lovely lady, who habitually recycles cards by cutting off the piece which is written on!) In the interests of Economy and Not Being Wasteful, I am Using Them All Up. Therefore I do apologise if it looks familiar. The greeting will be the same, too: may you have a happy and solvent year ahead.
Sorry about the envelope – it just happens to be at hand in the warm room!
X as awkward as ever. I fear he dreads coming into our house, and there’s a free fight even getting him out of the car – really most shaming for us. I don’t know what started it all off – no, I haven’t spanked him or even shouted at him once!!!
I’d love to know about all the other misdoings at her school her daughter got up to, do tell me more.
X is a real delight – gets handed round like a parcel and beams on everyone. She could only go backwards then – and was trying to pull her leg up by holding her clothes – but a few days after she was off – so now the gate has to be locked by the stairs.
X has been elected form captain which was v. good for her morale – I have a suspicion that she’ll be unbearable – in the nicest possible way!!
She’s having a rough ride at work. I don’t think she’d realised how completely unstructured the school is. If her little dears (8 year olds) get bored or cross they go walk-about and come back when they feel like it. Also several of them can’t read…
I asked X (re that couple) about babies a while ago and she made it sound not to be mentioned.
The children fell upon her as though they had suffered tortures during the fortnight (when grandmother and great-aunt were in charge), but needless to say they had been well and truly spoilt really and got away with a lot of minor sins without reprimand – and with a great deal of demanding favourite food and more ice-cream etc. that no doubt mum would have dealt with much more severely than grandmother did – although even she rebelled when the youngest tried to get away with putting golden syrup on a chocolate wheaten biscuit! Ladling it on to a scone was one thing and licking the spoon with a ladleful of treacle in it just passable, but the idea of it on expensive choc bics was too much!!
I ALSO feel the need to join something to meet people as my already small circle of friends just gets smaller. A good friend with whom I did a bit of eating out and the occasional pub crawl moved and I really miss her. I have more friends out of the country than in the country.
So much for friends who say ‘any time’ – the first three people I asked for a lift to the clinic were out. I then asked X who came half an hour too soon, dropped me off and said, ‘You’d better get a taxi back.’
I spoke to X today – I had forgotten how much talking to him lifts my spirits. He is a very positive person and seems to enjoy life so much.
She was so nice and I enjoyed doing things with her. On paper she is dull but not dull at all in real life! I think she suffers from no one over here ever showing an interest in her life in X etc. Well, the English are incredibly parochial and expect everyone to be endlessly interested in their local gossip.
I really enjoyed our get-together and trust it won’t be 19 years before it happens again. You had better come here for the next reunion. The exchange rate is in your favour.
X has broken his leg badly in two places and is furiously frustrated by crutches and not allowed to drive a car for weeks. Lives alone so not easy for him. In my experience friends race in for a short time and then get caught up by their own problems.
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!