I happen to be the most useless person in the world at keeping track of my finances (there are as yet undiscovered African tribesmen who could maintain a bank account better), and at the time of the wedding – and many times since, I’m embarrassed to say – I was seriously wobbly in a fiscal sense.
I have just vented my spleen on the local hospital management as a protest at the monstrous charges we have to pay under the reformed, streamlined, user-pays, homogenised, de-humanised health ‘service’. I’ll probably have to pay in the end but I guess a protest on the way won’t go amiss! I recently heard of a person who wrote to say she wasn’t paying on principle. The bill was handed to debt collectors. Their fifth letter contained the information that they had ensured that she now had the lowest credit rating possible and that in future no business in the country would lend her money, allow hire purchase or give her a mortgage.
I am very interested in the Heseltine-Thatcher quarrel, as Westland shares are one of my few remaining English investments. Obviously whoever wins the quarrel, I have lost most of my money in the company already – but at least if their future is worth squabbling about, presumably they are not going to be left to go down the drain without trace, and might one day get back to paying dividends and being worth more than the 2 1/2p that they are proposing to write the shares down to at present!
She seized half his capital and all the furnishings of his house. She then refused all his many offers of maintenance for the offspring and insisted on fighting it out in the courts at a cost in lawyers of some strange amount to each party. Then the judge by some miracle awarded her much less than X had offered her in the first place so she is ever skulking around sniffing for more!
I am alarmed at your state of having 2 mortgages and no job… I never have enough money – who does? – so for the past 8 months I have been taking in a student lodger… It has worked quite well – but of course it meant a lot of heaving around of stuff from one bedroom to another and the loss of privacy.
X wrote to me and said he was in S.E. Asia again until March. He must be about 90 by now. I hope if I live that long, that I’ll be able to get about like him at that age. (Silly idea really – I certainly won’t have enough money.)
I moved into X’s house… He’s on leave… As soon as I moved in I found an unpaid electricity bill, I paid that and was pleased to have averted a crisis. Then I found an unpaid water bill and paid that. There was still water in the tank, so I didn’t know the water had already been cut off until the afternoon of 24th December.
As usual at 7.15 with us arriving and getting organised we started worrying that no one would come – but then half an hour later we worried if we had enough food/drinks.
It’s the village party tonight… As the noise is so terrific it doesn’t matter much who is there – conversation is all but impossible.
The old boy patron of the society (who opened the Exhibition) had obviously been wined and dined too well by X – was so embarrassing – really quite tiddly.
If you want to come you can have the camp bed here but I know that only a night or two is possible without me suddenly going mad. Such a creature of habit am I too.
… and then we had afternoon tea at the Vicarage for a select few – ugh – but it wasn’t too ghastly and I just survived. ‘Being social’ is just NOT my strong point – but then you know that.
She made a super rich cake and put it where the dog can’t reach it. X moved it to a place that was a gift to the dog who ate about 1/8 of it but wait – after nearly giving up with rage – she made another and filled it with layers of cream and put cherries soaked in brandy on top and put a throw-over over and SHUT doors … sudden scream from X – the dog got in and had pulled cover off bring the cake to edge of table – spoiling top cream only…
She would be very happy for X to come and stay there – she is quite firm that he would be more comfortable and better fed there and I rather agree! She has ‘turning out of her room’ down to a fine art… she is worried about putting Y out of his routine of sitting in the armchair in the kitchen and watching TV… He finds it hard to admit that he is older. Oh dear, what a mouldy old lot I make us out, but we really are rather dull and set in our ways and I do feel two or three days would tell X all he needs to know about our insular views. Old memories are all very well but when the names are all missing the conversation tends to be ‘Oh, of course you know who I mean – dear old so-and-so with the wife’ and the audience has to guess until we get the right person or all give up in disgust!
[After a memorial service] X had got a bun fight ready at the house which was for the family, relations, friends and village people who remembered him. So it was all a bit mixed as the village method of having a tea is to take their cup and plate and pile the latter with all the grub it will hold and then retreat to the available chairs and bad luck to those who come later – which inevitably would be the relations and friends!
“I say what I think without wrapping it up into acceptable phrases – or make facetious jokes without making it obvious I don’t mean it. I’ve got so fed up with being misunderstood I’ve practically opted out of chat situations with the feeling of ‘What the hell’! Would you believe it the first such I remember goes back to when I was at school which means I was 7, and it still rankles. All the same I’ve made a New Year resolution I won’t ‘let off’ without at least a fleeting think before I say!!”
“His teacher was impressed with his very interesting questions (she doesn’t have to listen to him asking a friend why he has bushy eyebrows and grey in his beard!!)”
“They are going to X’s… I hope things go well there as they are already sounding apprehensive. Apparently after inviting them X rang and said it was a good time to come because they’d all be working! Then rang again and said a friend had offered their house which he recommended their taking as it would save lots. Shock – they were expecting to stay for free with them.”
“I wrote you a card but lost it in X’s flat – just vanished! I only hope I didn’t put anything too awful on it. Maybe it will turn up… Am pretty drained after a week of X but it was all very worthwhile.”
“…This led to a long discussion between us and the young, in which I pressed them to at least do the civil thing in respect of presents etc. [from their grandparents]. I hear that X managed an apparently acceptable letter, but Y wrote a really aggressive effort – beginning ‘Dear Mr. & Mrs. X’ and going downhill from there. Oh dear, oh dear.”
“I’ve started the five Monday afternoon painting sessions with X. Last week she’d just said we must never try and paint something that didn’t appeal to us and then set up daisies with shaggy leaves stuffed into a square glass jar, with two radishes in front and a check cloth draped behind them. I actually surprised myself by not pointing out I couldn’t think of anything I’d less like to paint!”
“So sensible having no photographs or reception line – how I wish we hadn’t, and kept the in-laws under wraps!! COW.”
“X can be trying too, the way she takes over my friends and then tells me ‘all the news’.”
“It seems that my reply said all the wrong things but it didn’t really matter because she didn’t really read it anyway… I can’t really be bothered with any ‘guiding’ letters. They upset me when I receive them and I feel like I have to defend myself every time I read them, which makes me annoyed and I feel down – so I would rather not receive them.”
“X is into another burst of divining – for both water and electromagnetic waves. While my scientific methods were not exactly rigorous, she did seem able to tell the difference between when the TV was plugged in and unplugged in the next room. All very bogey! However it does mean they get all the exercise they need moving their furniture round to miss underground flowing water and electro-tidal-waves!”
“One of the people is a real character. I am told that when she re-married in the mid sixties, her wedding was at 8 in the morning. They had to knock up the jeweller because they had forgotten to collect the rings and then after the service the couple were toasted in toast!”
“He wanted to share with me ‘one of the most significant statements he has ever heard’ (he has a new one each time he comes). This was at the end of the programme about acupuncture last week and was to the effect that ‘the stars were the acupuncture pressure points (or whatever they call them) of the macrocosm’. He seemed to think it was important to know which stars you were being influenced by when you were treated by acupuncture (which he is being at present, though I don’t know what for). I said I thought that was an interesting idea, as long as you could work out where the macrocosm’s head and feet were, to which he replied, ‘There are ways’. He had also told the doctor who does the alternative medicine around here that he thought acupuncture could do you more good in a couple of sessions than six months of psychoanalysis, but I gather she was a bit reserved in her agreement. He put this down to her lack of psychiatric training – but it could of course be something to do with the fact that he had called on her after lunch on Sunday. He certainly is an odd specimen, however likeable.”
“Mad [friend] – the latest craze is the effect fillings in teeth are having on people, and the number who have made wonderful recoveries once they were removed. For once X [partner] said, ‘No, I won’t do it at my age.’ But a few days ago X had an awful time dropping down unconscious, some peculiar thing in the spine had curled??? Anyway he managed one tooth out on this, to no avail, so X went to a service for the laying on of hands, and has been fine ever since.”
“I enquired after the husband [who she said had manic depression] and gather that his high had quickly passed this time. It must be difficult to live with. He is in the habit of communicating with his maker before breakfast. She also gave me a graphic description about his wandering about the house in the middle of the night being a train, and saying ‘[Junction]: I think I’ll have a sandwich’ every time he came to the kitchen.”
“You may remember I met X… So – he finally arrived here but no big romance: in fact I was bored and came to the conclusion that I should disregard men entirely. I obviously expect too much or am too romantic or something… He was sweet and generous and kind but I just was not interested… Hopes there will be a future together for us – he will have to be disappointed.”
“I went to X to the Romance Writers Conference… All the romance writers were full-on into romance. I did feel a bit of a fraud as I’m not at all romantic (perhaps I just never met the right person?)”
“I never was enslaved – I was always liberated and enjoyed my life as best I could without harming other people.”
“…independent for shopping etc. if I have to give up the car – I can’t really quite decide if I ought to stop because of eyes but in the meantime go on.”
“Two years ago I slipped and broke both bones in an ankle and was in a wheelchair and incapacitated for almost a year. Though I recovered completely in the physical sense I think that I have not entirely recovered in the psychological sense!”
“So glad to hear that your eyes were ‘better’ with the different man – it is a completely hit and miss game as far as I understand it and one just has to trust them.”
“She does have to have radiotherapy… and I am trying to say that the reaction won’t be nearly as bad as it used to be in my day when we centred the beam in a very haphazard way compared to modern techniques.”
“I cured myself eventually by announcing to the consultant that his precious blood pressure pills were killing me and I was getting lower and lower in spirits – so had tried without them on my own and found myself feeling better. So we abandoned them and I revived at once and am now full of beans – still short of puff but that is now put down to smoking all my life, until a year ago, instead of ‘heart’ which it was first thought to be… The greatest joy is to feel alive instead of permanently half dead and blacking out at the thought of doing anything! …thank goodness this nice consultant is amenable to being told that I don’t want too many of his pills – still having 3 different things to take each day despite knocking the worst one off: what would Maggie [Thatcher] think? I am sure they all cost the earth, and being ancient I get them for free.”
“Did I tell you that the eye-man had another go at me? I think with some improvement. This time he did it under a local anaesthetic. I must say it is not natural to allow someone to poke a needle into your eyeball!”
Too little time for everything today. Found more beautiful postcards.
“I enjoyed the camping in the forest watching lemurs and catching insects [in Madagascar]… I like the bats but the 8 inch spiders are a bit off-putting… The zoological interest in the capital is the fleas which I tend to attract more than other people. Soon going to Morondava in the west to collect mosquitoes…”
“The weather has been intermittently good [Loch Tummel] – the only trouble is when the sun comes out so do the midges…”
“We left Bali in dreadful rain on 3rd June [sailing]. One man got sick so we had to get out the navigation instruments to find our way to Cocos and get him off. I like the beach we’re staying on. Coconuts everywhere but also lots of – [illegible: what could it be? maybe ‘ants’] unfortunately.”