Strong opinions

I find it hard to share a country with X, more especially when he is the Prime Minister and I am not. I think he has been so inept, and so loudmouthed …[too libellous to repeat!] Comes of being so small physically, perhaps? – in height, at least. He’s not all that small roundways.

Don’t want you large

 

 

I really don’t know if the child will ever survive because she only ever gave it half its feed because she told me she didn’t like large children!

 

 

The first I heard of it was when X phoned me at work and asked me to pop in – said in that voice that implies there’s no hurry as long as you are here yesterday as I have something to say to you.

You are better off as you are so long as you remember who you are.

I’m sure I was telling you once before how involved I’ve become in the whole women’s thing over the last three years. Ever since I read The Female Eunuch in fact, and I have just continued from there, reading a lot of stuff by and about women, getting a very good sense of being a woman, but realising continually how many stereotypes and roles have to be broken down.

If you can locate them ask her if she has had our letters and what’s happening – there’s no use beating about the bush or she’ll push it all in her pending tray again – she’s madly disorganised.

I laughed and laughed and then felt extremely irritated with X’s letter, as you say, a poor attempt at doing her mother! Remember you can be pretty good at a ‘put-down’ too!

Do you know we still haven’t heard about the finalising of X’s estate – I strongly believe the solicitor has put it on a horse.

Well, I hope never to see another day like this! It’s alright, no disasters but the next 5th Sunday in February is due in 2004, and I don’t really fancy remaining in ‘the miseries of this sinful world’ (quote from burial services) to the age of 92.

I’ve just finished reading X’s copy of Papillon – violent, crude and horrifying it may be but a fascinating and sensitive story – I’m not so revolted as X was.

Church/religion 3

The headmaster wanted the whole Easter message at a service on Maundy Thursday because, as he put it, it was the only Easter service most of his pupils would attend, and I had to fit in with the hymns the school band knew – about 4! However I think all went well – there were neither boos nor snores; although I didn’t actually test the effect of the sermon by having an altar call!!

He’s been reading masses of books on different religions and is now sure Christianity is all wrong.

Have you read that book – I have it from a friend. I found it most reassuring that all the learned people he quoted obviously have the same queries as I have and don’t seem to have found as satisfying a relationship with God as I have. … [The author’s] wife is playing hymns on the radio every Sunday morning. I think she must be trying to make up for his emptying the churches, which is the widely held view.

Has the ‘Toronto Revival’ reached you?

The ordination went very well which is more than can be said for the ‘simple supper’ (the Bishop’s words) afterwards. The cathedral supper room had been double booked so the event took place in a ‘cosy’ Methodist tea room over the road. Not only could only about 1/4 of the people get in at any one time but when they did the ‘simple supper’ was a cup of plastic coffee and a tea-biscuit!

the simple supper

 

The Sunday morning service was not X’s cup of tea at all, because she was told that she had got to look more cheerful while she was singing and that she thought was too much. The singing was all choruses, always sung twice and sometimes more, and that part I didn’t enjoy as most of them are so repetitive anyway – musically very simplistic too; but our imported speaker was quite good.

They’re extending the Cathedral, every new Dean feels he must do something to be remembered by (my opinion). I suppose it must be easier than saving souls. I think it needs to raise some 8 million dollars which with people queuing for food handouts doesn’t seem quite proper.

There’s s hoohah going on in the parish because the vicar wants an assistant which will cost $20,000 a year and our income barely covers costs – if anyone queries this two couples who ‘run the parish’ tell them they have no FAITH – and they’re going to ask every family to give $10 more a week to help!!! The Vicar has also decided on curtains for their sitting room which will cost $900 – Sanderson linen.

[continuation of topic]

Yesterday we had the Church Fair. There are 6 of us at our church who produce things for our stall. I do far the least but took down coffee jars full of shortbread biscuits made with the machine, boxes of meringues, six jars of marmalade etc. but the farmer’s wife who is one of the old originals had 16 boxes of goodies, absolutely masses of pickled onions, dozens of jars of jams, chutneys and other things, and our MP’s wife had made quite 6 dozen packets of 6 chocolate truffles laced with sherry and various wines. I doubted if they’d sell but they all went. Anyway between us we raised $460 plus, and were a little put out when the money man told us all the funds were going to go together now – not our plan at all. Last year we gave it to general funds so this year they’re taking it for granted. However we’re firmly holding onto it until we sort it out. We pay for all the expenses of our little church and Diocesan quota, which is ridiculously high for the tiny congregation. There’s a storm brewing as the Vicar wants an assistant for which $20,000 a year is required, so he intends asking every family to pay an extra $10 a week to cover it. I fear I may have told you this bleat before, but we’re feeling very sore about it. I’m afraid he’ll also decide to close down our little church as the congregations are so small, but it would be very sad.

Last Sunday we had the most awful service – all action songs and two people ‘sharing’ their conversion and a dance group who changed on the spot and pranced all over the place. … The Vicar said the most he could suggest is one service a month as congregations of less than 20 are irrelevant and rumour has it he’d like to sell the church and land – for money money money. We had a nice normal service this morning – our patronal festival – tho’ few people and not a big do in flowers etc. – as we used to in ‘our day’ and afterwards X played his bagpipes outside which was lovely.

I loved your story of the scruffy old man at church even if he was so ordinary as to have ‘red woolly socks only on his feet’. The whole episode reminds me of an ‘interesting’ service I went to in a very big, empty and dull church in Notting Hill Gate. All went well until some ‘rooster’ at the back found that it was the appropriate time for him to contribute loudly and in tongues! There followed 5 minutes during which there was a competition between this guy and the celebrant to see who could deliver the Spirit’s authentic word most loudly. I can’t remember who won, but I don’t recall that it was the Spirit!

A friend and I had a good day. We organised a Quiet and Bible Study day for our parish. We were relieved because it seemed to go really well. Our Vicar was rather pessimistic and said we must be happy if only 5 or 6 people came; and I must say I didn’t disagree! However it pays to advertise (or pray or something) as we ended up with 20 people and the retreat house almost overflowed.

Characters 2

He sounds an odd character – I’m astounded you managed to refrain from crowning him for long enough to get to like him!

I’ve got a terrifying new help – X phoned to say she’d been asked to work in a school library starting right away – 2 days notice after 4 years but she did give me this woman’s name who lo and behold came the next day – large, loud and bright red lipstick. She got going with great gusto and from various remarks obviously thought my house was ‘feelthy’. She keeps running her hand over lamp shades and saying X must have been v. short. How she manages to take up twice as much dirt in the cleaner I can’t think – and she likes cleaning the oven! Anyway she said she’d been with my friend so I phoned her and she told me how lucky I was and she liked her so much she’d left her something in her Will – so I’d better try harder!

The people who went there are falling apart. The old man is evidently impossible – won’t let his daughter or her husband have any friends there, let alone the children’s friends, won’t let them use the telephone. When the grand-daughter was baby sitting for the neighbours, X said had grandfather done anything about getting a ram for the sheep as it was getting late in the season, and he was told Grandfather doesn’t like anything like that, he won’t even watch kissing on TV.

We made the former president who was such a trial an honorary life member – perhaps in the hope that she would thereby be persuaded to adopt more statesmanlike attitudes and keep her fingers out of the day to day running – but I think it’s unlikely to happen. She has been putting about that when the treasurer goes off to X halfway through next year as he is planning to do that she will become treasurer in his place (on the rather odd grounds that it would be good for her husband, who had a stroke last year, to have to concentrate on some of the detail of it!)

We heard from X this week, and were amused to hear he listened to the Test Match with the radio under the bedclothes at 3 a.m. – he doesn’t age much!! He must be at least 75.

She’s gardening mad and has rebuilt the garden too. I play bridge with her, she’s much taller than I am and twice as large! and is a bit overpowering, but I’ve given up making too quick opinions about people and hope we’ll click (tho’ life style is a bit daunting)!!

She’s quite the funniest person I’ve met, and she likes everybody, except the husband of her last boss who would come into the office smelling of drink and be very rude to them and to their clients, so she complained to the Manageress who said she had it in hand and it wouldn’t happen again! And it didn’t.

X’s party was all go. Y home wearing the awful red velvet coat his father wore when we first knew him – and brown suede shoes! And his hair looked as though he hadn’t done it since he left months ago.

party attire

Children 3

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!

the teenager

 

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!!!

Church/religion (2)

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.

fw 005
the clergy are not amused!

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!!!

Children (2)

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!!!

unwilling visitor

 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!!

Life’s surprises

I had a weird birthday, felt very depressed in the morning as I got a parking ticket and ‘cos my mother-in-law rang to wish me a ‘pleasant’ birthday. (A word she NEVER uses, we’ve had a disagreement and said word was equal to sh**!) Then at lunch I met two good friends who I haven’t seen for 1 and 3 years, quite by chance, which was lovely; then my car was towed away. Then I had a lovely evening after retrieving the car. What a day of extremes.

[Child of 7] ‘Stick ’em up, Mummy… Come to think of it, I don’t know what I’d do with a dead Mummy.’

As far as your dream about me driving a coach into a lake goes – something odd’s going on! Another of my friends had a dream in which I pushed lots of people into a swimming pool recently! Deep meaning??

driving the coach into a lake

I think God is telling me He wants another home on this property and used to help families trying to get their lives sorted out God’s way. If I am hearing right, He will supply the money for this. Life has been rather exciting with God in spite of all problems.

I expect I’ll just be on the basic salary scale for a primary teacher with a degree, but apparently some previous jobs entitle one to more, but, here’s the catch, they don’t tell you what those jobs are!

X has developed an extremely weird spiritual belief package that incorporates Christianity, Ancient Egyptian beliefs and New Age ideas. I had a chat with him the other day and he was talking about spirit guides and things. One sentence was along the lines of ‘Jesus and Anubis are two of my spirit guides’ – enough to curl the toes of all three groups I should think!!

He rang me the evening of the funeral and said how pleased he was that they had gone, so everybody felt they had done the right thing… I should think they stayed for a meal and then drove on home as he didn’t ring me until after ten, when I was half asleep and thoroughly uncomposed – or is it decomposed?! – as hadn’t got all my teeth in and was lisping badly!!

I wrote an article… a phone call came in the middle of the night from some bloke in Ireland who wanted my address which X cheerfully dished out! A week later came a letter from a consultant in Ireland congratulating me on my excellent article. Some distant relative had sent him a copy and he’s sent it to some bigwig in America!

 

Things fall apart (2)

It was very hot and humid on Christmas Day. My fridge broke down and I had diarrhoea. I think the three are connected.

Had to tell you the saga of my blue skirt – made from a 12 year old pair of wide bottom trews – lovely colour that goes with all my tops. Last week it disappeared – I went through all my drawers umpteen times – and X’s in case I’d picked it up with his washing – and all my hangers, airing cupboard, linen cupboard – the lot. I felt I was losing my marbles! At last I gave up – that evening I went to the bathroom and saw a shape on the black floor under a stool. There it was – ludicrous isn’t it? Who’d think of looking there?

Church was miserable. We got a new vicar last year who I really like and I felt was actually getting something happening in Church. But it seems it was but a step in a process of changing the style of worship at the parish and it’s now changed so much I’m having difficulty with it. Much more charismatic style (but not in response of the congregation by and large). Hymns have mostly been replaced by more modern songs, the choir has been blended with the group who did the occasional more modern song so there’s quite a lot of drums + guitar as opposed to organ, and the robes of the choir have gone.  …   The Vicar’s now changed the children’s format to being in church at the beginning instead of the end.  …  All in all I’m a bit fed up with it, especially after such an auspicious beginning. However I’ll probably persevere as I guess it’s those people who offer the most who can also cause the worst upsets and I’d rather have the mountains and troughs than a bland nothing we’ve had for 20 years.

Did you hear that X’s young sister who had a longstanding relationship with a doctor in ?USA eventually married and in a year or two he left her and went off with another woman. There’s just no knowing.

…the place X orders the wine and glasses failed to send the glasses, which we found when we arrived at 7.15 p.m. and two people had already arrived early – nothing but chaos. After about half an hour I saw a rather dull looking woman stuck in a corner by herself, and asked her name as I wondered if she was someone I’d phoned, only to find she was one of the two exhibiting artists – I was more than a little embarrassed. Unfortunately the only person who’d met her was Y and he arrived late. To add to the flop, Z completely failed to open the Exhibition, so there was no summary of the work of the exhibitor and hopes there would be sales that night so no one would be disappointed etc. In fact there weren’t and there haven’t been since.

My writing is a bit of a worry. I must check what the little jiggles in letters mean – something to do with the nerves or nervous system I think!

He kicked the walls, called me some even more choice names implying I had a string of men and took money for it, and threw me out. It’s nice to find one has friends. Three people offered me a bed for the night.

It eventually gave up – the RAC chap replaced the condenser on the road again. It bunny hopped en route to the next stop and then gave up again. This time we waited 1 1/2 hours. The RAC came and took 2 hours to fix it. One hour later the cops pulled X over as the back lights weren’t working (can’t think how it got its MOT!) Waited again for RAC. He couldn’t fix it by 3 a.m. and eventually towed X all the way, arriving about 5.30 a.m.

I’ve felt under a lot of pressure although I can’t pinpoint why. I was afraid I’d end up in a loony bin half the year! … I also went for counselling with a psychotherapist but she didn’t seem to be helping enormously and charged like a wounded bull [Would that be charged as in fees or charged as in attack?] so I stopped going. She ran a rebirthing w/e which I went to (although I’ve always thought rebirthing sounded ridiculous). The rebirthing part of it was hopeless. I experienced nothing except asthma! But the visualisation exercises she and we did were really interesting and definitely how I tick. With one we had to lie quietly and visualise being on a hill top and then either walking into a town and seeing all the strange creatures there or letting them come to us. Then she put on music and we took it from there. I had an intriguing experience. I visualised going into the town then there was a swimming pool which I walked towards which turned into the sea. I walked into it. At first I was scared I wouldn’t be able to breathe then realised I could. In the sea I saw lots of strange things then eventually I was a baby in the arms of a black nursemaid who was singing to me. She was quite a chubby woman. I was just a small baby. It was a wonderful secure and happy feeling  …  I’ve also done quite a bit of dream analysis over that period with some interesting results but it was all getting a bit heavy so I’ve dropped it for the mo’. I was having a lot of nightmares and not sleeping too well.

…. backing out of the little parking space I backed into an 18 inch wooden post you couldn’t see from inside the car. Evidently numerous people had done the same thing – one with $1000 damage. X phoned the owner and was v. mildly complaining about it. To everyone’s amazement he painted it white and made it 6 inches higher.

reversing into the little post

Medicine

X is looking v. frail and tires so easily – he takes umpteen pills which seem to keep his ulcer and heart ticking over and his nice young doctor assures him he’s doing well.

I gathered from X that they did take some scrape or whatever and results from that were to come back later – haven’t heard about that yet. I guess the question that remains is why the results of the original blood test or whatever were so strange, if it wasn’t what they thought it was.

X [new baby] is an enthusiastic drinker and managed to nibble a couple of holes in me early on, which then apparently got thrush, so we had a jolly week or so there. Finally, they seem to be healing up thankfully and we’re building up toward full breast-feeding again. What would my La Leche friends say? Yesterday I went out to the hospital to have warm ozone blown on me which was very pleasant and may have been helping the final healing – what funny things they think of ! Better than being microwaved, which was also on offer!

On the boring subject of my indisposition last year, I had a brush with the dread disease (not bosom) and some major surgery by the most super surgeon who recently arrived here – lucky for me. He was 6ft 3ins, bearded and could be described as the gentle brown giant. Couldn’t have had anyone kinder, gentler or more skilful…

on steroids

He wanted me to start the steroids that day – which I duly did after dinner… I found I had no headache and felt fine – I can even open my mouth properly! BUT the other side effects sound almost worse than the complaint. Getting heavy over all trunk and weak in the muscles – arms and legs – and a round face. ‘Walk tall, sit on firm dining room type chair’ and so on.

I seem to remember she got allergies by the score when she was with you before and had to use an ioniser or some such to purify the air! I am sure they are splendid devices but I am always a bit of a cynic and want to see something for my money.

… there was a general gloom anyway as one Partner had died in the week and the husband of another had ‘pulled a muscle in his chest’ – he died suddenly the next day, heart attack of course.

 

Special skills

Do remember to send me a diagram of your house so I can dowse it for you. It seems to be good for us and especially our friend X… I think when I last wrote I was waiting to hear the result of the drill being done nearby; I went down complete with cans of beer to celebrate only to find X had decided he shouldn’t put on another 10 ft pipe to bring it up to the depth I reckoned he would strike an aquifer and water in vast quantities. He was disappointed too as he was sure I was right. As he’d already gone 3 metres more than he’d been instructed to go I can see his predicament. However, he was happy for me to go and try out the next well which won’t be for a month or more.

 

giving light

I’ve attended a course in this Mahikari I mentioned in the last letter and can now ‘give light’ – it still seems remarkable but anyway. But it seems to attract people who neet it.

My jaunt to dowse a section was interesting. I’d said I had no qualifications, and he assured me it was whether you had it or not that mattered! We marched round this dreary section, which had been covered over with tarmac and used as a car park, and the council had a competition going for the best building that could go on it… It came out very odd, and I suspect there was an old cess pit and a large soakaway, it was over a swamp, in a gully, I think the person who said it was not fit for habitation would win any competition. Then I got a very strong reaction at one point… and since coming home and trying to make sense of it, I got a book (the only one they had!) from the library, which told me all the things I didn’t know… I think the council had cut off all the old pipes which are now holding polluted water, and the big cess pit and soakaway the same, and there is one new pipe right down the new boundary not quite as deep as the old one, so now I wait hopefully! – shall be told how wrong or not I was.

I didn’t realise you needed another licence [for a motorbike] as I imagined that you had a full driving licence, but I suppose that sort of thing went out after the war or some time ages ago and one takes it in bits now? I still rejoice that I can drive a tractor or a heavy van or something (all without taking one at all and I would undoubtedly fail a test!!) What this elderly lady does about turning round on a push bike and signalling and so forth is extremely vague – I usually try to turn round – find I am a bit bad at twiddling my neck/shoulders – take a hasty glance and not really see anything and then stick out a wavering hand and proceed rapidly across the main road to the safety of the lane. Alternatively I suddenly hop off at the crossing and run across at my fastest speed as cars zoom up a hill quite blind and suddenly appear ready to run me down.