Friends

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.

the broken leg

Exploits

He’s a gorgeous little boy who has several good friends… he’s beginning to get ‘into things’. The other day I caught him emptying all X’s tin of gambling money into his toy till!! (It is a large tin of coins for playing poker with – it’s all shared out and all returned to the tin afterwards!) Oh dear. Actually he’s got rather light fingers come to think of it. I found a note in my rubbish tin and X mysteriously lost a little bag with a lot of cash in it.

I got a hoax phone call and I got my gun out – to cut a long story short I shot myself! Went in at belly button region and out at left buttock! I got a fright but 24 hours in hospital proved it to be a soft flesh wound! The good Lord saved me (and my fat)!

We had a card from X from Finland this week – she’d just got back from Lapland, where the family of ‘this gye’(!) had taken her. They’d picked 80Kg of cloudberries which they were selling at $35 a Kg and this was paying for the next part of her trip with the money she’d earned ‘doing embroidery things in people’s hair’. Sounds vaguely ominous but fascinating. She earned $600 in 3 days doing all this.

We’re having a horrendously huge BBQ on the 20th. It was going to be a few friends and seems to be about 60 at this stage!

the BBQ

Property – values/repairs/layout

Are you still enjoying your flat in London? Is the interest still going up and crippling you or are things easier now? It must have increased quite considerably already in capital value. My flat has increased in value to more than three times what I paid for it 6 years ago. I’m not sorry I bought!

the balcony

I have moved… I wanted a balcony…It is on the 6th floor and on a ridge so from such an elevation the lights at night are quite magnificent… I overlook an Indian Community – mostly lovely big homes. Part of their culture is to keep roosters. These do a lot of crowing in the early hours. I love it – it is like being on a farm!!

My poor house hasn’t progressed very much. This summer, providing it isn’t too hot, I plan to do renovations including paving my verandah and purchasing a garden shed to get rid of all of the odds and ends making the back of my house (inside and out) look like a reduced version of Steptoe’s yard.

I have two very smart door bells… the back door does a vibrant ‘come at once’ sort of ring and the front door does more of a Big Ben ‘Ping Pang’ – all marvellously suburban and quite right for such a dead-end road as we are… Both doors are down the side of the bungalow in ridiculous places as the kitchen door comes first so automatically one goes there – just as well as the front door opens cheek by jowl with the loo/bathroom door and I can imagine awkward confrontations and lurkings until the caller has gone!!

How I pity you with that selling business and I do hope the agent shows himself worthy of the colossal percentage and achieves a sale. Ones home suddenly seems shabby and unworthy and the callers look as though they can’t imagine anyone bearing with it and peer around suspiciously.

I have decided, after strenuously denying that I required one, to employ an architect to do my house. It will add considerably to the cost, however I have not got the energy to do the work. (Get the design through the local council, and supervise the building work.)… Of course I will be the worst possible client, as I have Ideas as to what I want. (Reading the architectural magazines, I have gathered that the ‘ideal client’ is the one who is willing to go with whatever the architect comes up with. Well, that’s not me.)

I am in the process of buying the dullest bungalow in X in a row of similar horrors so that I can’t even recognise mine yet. Never mind, it seems delightfully small and compact.

My house plans are static at the moment. I haven’t given up the idea, however I need the bigger income. As yet, I have not had any word as to my salary evaluation. According to our award, I am being under-paid. However, whether they will cough up or not is another matter. I have a collection of wonderful glossy magazines with beautiful places in, but of course I will have to come down to earth when I actually start doing it – even a bigger salary will only stretch to fairly ordinary basics.

The house renovations must be grim to live with but no doubt when all is finished you will be glad you did it. Contractors always do that sort of thing – take on several jobs at once and never finish any one completely… X had their house almost completely rebuilt by architects this year. So they are living in chaos still. All the outside walls were pulled off and for a time they lived behind tarpaulin sheets!

It has taken me the entire year to do all the improvements to my new home amidst HEAT, DUST and NOISE and much moving to and fro of furniture and accessories etc. etc…. I have a top-of-the-range ceiling fan in my bedroom so I can actually sleep under a blanket – and that is on speed 1 (of 5). Any higher and I may wake up pinned to the ceiling… The only problem here is that being closer to nature (2nd floor, previously 6th floor) moths and beetles and things fly in, in the hot weather.

It is indeed a most exceptional place, on a hill 5 Km from sea and shops, sea view, dream home, dream kitchen, granny flat, 2 garages under house, paved curved driveway and by the way a cycal in the front garden!! Small pool, gazebo seating 12, also separate cottage at far end of property, terraced beds for fruit, plenty of fruit and nuts, pawpaws, about 3 1/2 acres, old trees etc. etc. [Can we all have a place like this?]

New acquaintances

I’ve also got myself a visiting job – a doctor who has fairly recently lost his sight. I was told he could do with someone to read to him from time to time. We started on the newspapers, and have now progressed on his suggestion to the Book of Revelation – but we don’t generally cover much as we slide off into mutual comment and anecdote!

Misunderstanding

I found her very kind, interesting and easy to get on with. It was difficult she spoke so quietly and I hear so quietly – if you see what I mean! but I trust we didn’t talk at cross purposes too much. One we discovered – I thought she was speaking of Russia and she was in fact speaking of Sweden – I was quite amazed at some of her statements!

 A real time waster today was a call by X who dropped in on his way home and effectively filled the time between lunch and tea with talk. He touched among other subjects on stress in the halfshafts of Land Rovers, the method of construction adopted for the interior walls of his house and its relationship to the problems of fitting sliding doors and extra power; plus common misunderstandings of the rates system and other equally enlightening subjects. In fact, he is a crashing bore. A pity, since he is obviously a kindly man, and it is very friendly of him to look in on us.

We were invited next door… She has a very loud voice, and is a great talker, so X was sitting there for about two hours trying to keep her finger in her ear on that side without it being obvious. I was feeling battered at one remove by the end, so it must have been very painful for her. Every now and then we tried to make it a conversation by starting off, ‘That reminds me of…’ – but not with much success.

I liked him better than her really – but a few words at the top of ones voice in the middle of a party is not much to judge on.

However she’s quite pleasant, and he is, but is very outspoken if he feels like it and calls a spade a b. shovel: last week we missed Bridge and evidently he and our ex-president flared up (he’s a Union man and a pain in the neck) and X raised a fist and asked him to step outside – X retired with a heart and last year had a triple bypass op. and Y had a stroke earlier in the year, and both well into the 70s – it must have been quite a show!