When I was young

I seem to remember that enormous hill on what used to be the A25 and particularly scaling it on one occasion in a very ancient (1922) car called an ABC which I had gone shares of £2 each on with a friend from X who came to stay and swat for our final exams – around 1935. This car had an unusual lubrication system by which oil dripped into the crankcase at the rate at which it was supposed to being burnt up or otherwise used. You could see it dripping in a little glass tube mounted on the dashboard. I don’t know whether it was a fault of the system or just of this car, but if you went up a long hill where the engine was pulling hard without any let up, it somehow built up a pressure in the crankcase and the oil started coming up the pipe instead of down until the glass tube was full of it. It was always nerve-racking wondering whether the top of the hill or a piston seizing up would come first. Once one got over the top and going downhill it all ran away into the engine again, to my great relief. It was a nice car, with a very good upright driving position, and a four speed gearbox which was well ahead of its time.

 No, I haven’t left my upbringing behind entirely, as regards the telephone. I often find myself waiting like Job for the bad news as I lift the receiver. And I’m not as good as X at just chatting even with free calls!

 I’m a bit worried she doesn’t intend having jabs – remembering the plague in X when everyone had to be inoculated against it. One bright local went for his buddies with suitable payment – which he didn’t last to use. It’s a v. nasty one and so is the plague.

the plague

 

I had a letter from X [niece’s husband] thanking me for the tails and dinner jacket. He took them to the tailors to be altered and they were a bit stuffy about it until they looked at it, then the tailor called all his staff to come and see the wonderful material and hand-finishing. It had ‘1937’ in the pocket [60 years previously].

Outings (2)

Went to the Arenes to see the tau which are very young bulls (3) let loose in the arena with about 6 to 8 young men dressed in white calling them to charge and they do. I was one metre away from one with a wall between us. Very frightening. Those young men had to run ever so quick and jump over a wall made of wood and then up near the spectators whilst someone is shouting which lad has won so many euros and this for quarter of an hour or more. To be seen once and that is it. DONE! NOT TO BE DONE AGAIN…

I went to a show with the 3rd age… it was simply marvellous and the discipline of leaving the arena was very organised; we didn’t have to wait too long as we were coach No. 9, but coach 38 must have found it a gruelling experience. It was quite tiring, although it was only 7 hours altogether. [!]

Your day with X sounded a lovely mix, though I don’t think I would have chosen Ibsen myself. My whole view of Russian literature is thoroughly coloured by a film (supposed at the time to be rather ‘risky’) which I saw about 1938 in a funny little cinema which then existed underneath the arches between Charing Cross and the river. It was an eternal triangle story, highly emotional, apparently, (though the subtitles hardly conveyed it) and punctuated with ‘Let’s have a cup of tea’ at all the high points, which came as regularly as the commercials in a TV drama. The trains at intervals didn’t help much, of course.

We went to see ‘the trots’. We only saw two races, and left before the last to avoid the traffic – but, as we were so late arriving, we got in for nothing and we were glad to have the experience! I picked but didn’t back the last horse in the first race we saw, and X picked and I backed for her the last but one in the other race – so we could have done better.

We did a visit to the Museum to see the Chinese Army – well, five of it, but quite well tricked out to make a reasonable exhibition with some big photos and various artifacts, and also a short slide show with commentary to begin with.

X had a lovely time last week going sailing. They’d had a week preparing for it, learning to rig the boats and so on and then went down to the estuary for 2 mornings. They were meant to get another half morning (for the ultimate fun of capsizing!) but it was flat calm and drizzling that day so they missed out.

no disasters

We left for home with a less-than-worthwhile diversion to a gallery to see some local artists’ work which someone had recommended. They all had scholarships to study three years or more abroad, and in no case did we think it worthwhile.

Sex appeal and influence

I think he is very swade [sic] by her influance [sic] as to what they do with their time but love seems to do that to people. [Spelling not a strong point!]

I wrote and told her my memories of her mother – I said how jealous we all were at her ability to attract every man that set eyes on her  …   (perhaps this had something to do with her refusing to write her memoir for the family saying there were so many things she’d done in her life that she wasn’t proud of and much regretted.) Actually I didn’t tell X her mother was not attractive to look at and very shy but had tremendous sex appeal! Infuriating for her sister as all her male friends were grabbed up…

We borrowed X’s ram yesterday. Y brought it for us. As he drove up all our ewes moved up to the gate and accorded him a great welcome which he reciprocated in a most definite manner before the truck had even driven off. Undoubtedly a randy ram. [One has to work out whether ‘he’ is the driver or the ram!!!]

I absolutely agree about X – she is a delight to talk to as one gets to know her and is so attractive. My dear, imagine meeting Y and her together and you can see how I sink into the ground!! And I am old and not feeling in the competitive age – it must be ghastly for plain Janes to meet a couple like that at a party, although both are really so nice but do look rather out of this world. Not that you have any reason for feeling like an elephant but they have some sort of mysterious poise that is defeating, and automatically makes the rest of us feel boringly dull.

plain Jane sinks into the ground

Time flies by

This year I have been prescribed my first set of reading glasses. I can read quite well without them, however at the end of the day I have to say the world did have very fuzzy edges. So, off I went, and was told that many people required glasses by middle age. How very cheerful. My eldest sister is 60 tomorrow. I have to say that the realisation of this made me pull up with a real jolt. I never thought it when she turned 50: even though I am somewhat younger, that didn’t sound anything like 60 sounds – sort of aged. So there, you have another 10 years of being young.

I am glad that you are doing new things.

new ventures

 

I have to say that as one gets older ones group of friends seems to dwindle, or you see them less often, or something. I too have felt the need to do something different and meet new people.

 

I must admit I also worry a little about how quickly the years seem to be going, the birthdays coming around much more quickly than they used to and the realisation that middle age is not so far off! However I always think of X who bought and started a sheep farm at the age of 50. She is in her mid-70s now, with the farm quite successful… How one avoids or copes with the bodily ills rather than those of the mind I don’t know.

…a year since we set off from Southampton. It is amazing that time can go so quickly. I keep thinking of what we were doing a year ago – getting up and having rolls on deck, having dinner with that dreadful man (remember the sardine appetiser?), charging up and down B deck.

I surprised everyone, and not least of all myself, by having a stroke in middle of June. At least I was sensible and was able to rest and recover lounging in the garden – I felt like the last of the Colonial Empire – laying back under the trees for hours on end. Don’t be shocked at being 50. I was 70 this year – whatever next!

X’s surviving brother, 89, came over from Spain in the summer and while here did two stints on television – one in ‘The Bill’ and one for a new series of ‘As Time Goes By’ with Judi Dench – great for his morale but stressful.

I thought I felt old when the children of friends started getting married, but it’s even worse when people my age announce that they’ve retired or are thinking of retiring. Where have the last fifty-two years gone to? X’s father died just two days after his eighty-seventh birthday. Although he’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years, and his death was, in fact, a happy release from his torment, X and I were suddenly acutely aware of having moved up a generation, as it were. It’s not that we feel any older (or wiser!), just nearer to the other end of our lives.