Lucie came to stay the night before her three weekly Chemotherapy which is her life saver. She looked her usual elegant self . Where on earth does she get it from? Not from me that is certain. A “well meaning” friend said to me recently (you know the ones, they say “there is something I would like to tell you, we have known each other long enough for me to tell you this and it’s because I love you”) . This is always a bad start and one should never encourage them to do it . But I didn’t stop her so the drift was that I always wear clothes that look as if I can wash up in them. Now this of course is perfectly true and on the rare occasions that I do not the worst always happens . Take for example Lunch in the Posh Place at Wimbledon where the Sainted One cuts a bit of a dash and I wouldn’t want to let the side down Now would I? So it’s the new white Zara Jacket and bang elbow in the summer pudding. More where that came from but it can wait.
Well yesterday started badly from the point of view of trying to be elegant…. I am often warned by the young that we live in a rough area, this is correct but such a house in poshland would be way beyond our means . It would be a bedsit where they couldn’t dump their stuff and the one hundred cousins could not sleep on the floors and in the cupboards Anyway I always defend the hinterland in which we reside because actually I love it and our neighbours are wonderful. Also they put on the 452 bus just for me didn’t they. Well Lucie’s arrival had been hailed by six enormous youths circling about on stolen bicycles one of which was probably my grandson’s (he lives here at the moment. ) I made light of this and drew attention to the lovely magnolia in the front which is showing great promise. But next morning as I went with her to her car there was what looked like a bean shoot open sandwich at the bottom of the steps , it looked so terrible that even Sandy my fox had disdained it. I kicked it into the flower bed and was it my imagination or was it something other than bean shoots?
Actually the thought of it made me feel nauseous all day. Lucie said nothing but I knew what she was thinking. But worse was to follow; beside her car was a discarded rubber mattress. I tell you the map of life upon it had a vile story to tell, even worse than the sandwich. It’s had a life of its own and was probably moving of its own volition without human intervention. The fact that it had been in use so close to our halcyon residence was depressing . We laughed but then what else can you do?
But it’s not all like that we went to dinner to a really fabulious house in Primrose Hill. The Hostess is an Irish travel writer who looks gorgeous and has never made a dull remark also she dresses like a dream and produced a superb dinner effortlessly without spillage. We talked a lot about Ireland and the other guest was delightful and well informed with an encyclopaedic memory. He was an expert on Irish History which was lovely for me as my book, which comes out next week involved intricate research about William of Orange and the Battle of the Boyne. It was then that The Sainted One revealed that he had actually finished my book I knew this because he quoted with great authority my take on this dramatic event which changed the course of Anglo Irish History. I asked him about what he thought about this latest of literary achievements on the way home at one thirty this morning. He said it was too late to discuss it but it was a good book…. “did you get the metaphor ?“ I asked … “salvation” was the curt reply ….life is full of mystery I thought sagely.
“So did they ever meet in the middle,” asked Jason the curtain man. I thought for one terrible moment he was alluding to the cardigan buttons which don’t. But no, he is a nice young man and he wasn’t . He meant the spare room curtains which had come adrift and had to be re attached to the complicated cording system. “No they never did they came from the “Curtain Exchange” as did all the window coverings in this house. We close them with a clothes peg.” I explained.
He smiled politely.
This set me to thinking that this is the story of this house, nothing meets in the middle, buttons, waist bands , zips , budgets and most of all arguments. People say you should meet half way in domestic disputes, but in this house nobody is ever wrong, least of all “The Sainted One.” I have learnt never to admit fault of any kind , if you do you get landed with it on the ever longer list of crimes … so sisters all learn from me …. Walk tall with a massive great halo on your head, smile adorably and change the subject when the inquisition about whose fault it was starts.
So one might think why me. Why my perfect good shining daughter? But Life’s a bitch it happens to anyone and once you get your head around the why not me , or my child thing then you start watching a wonderful brave girl living with stage four breast cancer. For all the other women out there who have watched the face of an oncologist as they tell you how it is do not despair, it is your spirit , hope and courage which will get you your life back. My best friend died of breast cancer twenty years ago … the fact is today she would not have died. The world of breast cancer warriors is inspiring and wondrous, things are happening which will one day render this a curable disease. My girl is vibrant and confident she has been through six major operations, six months radical chemotherapy, a triple lumpectomy, a mastectomy, six weeks radiotherapy and a liver operation. She lost all her hair but never her beauty of spirit. She has smiled and inspired her family enjoy each day as it comes … Her treatment will be on going, but the team who look after her are the soldiers at her gate. I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for the joy of seeing my daughters health as it is, for the her body free of this horrible thing knowing these incredible people will fight for her and keep her safe, for the joy of seeing her with her family, living her life with ever more awareness of the gift of each day.
Its official, as if it came as surprise. The I pad is bad for your health, it will give you insomnia and disturbed sleep if you read it at night. For someone who has spent many years writing things, especially books which have lovely jackets and smell nice, and look pretty on the bedside table , and hopefully become dog eared as people hand them on to their best friends who read them at night … and they all get delightfully lulled into happy peaceful dreams….and then have successful days and it’s all because of me…. No and don’t even ask… it’s not through boredom they drop off .. at least one hopes . Well this is music to my ears, can anyone tell me how any wonderful biographies could ever have been compiled with the help of a hard drive? Biographies about clever extraordinary people are my favourite reading and I find novels very tricky ( except for my own of course which are uniquely wonderful!!!!) But seriously researching history is one of the great joys of my life since I come with a blank screen, that is to say one of those countless women of my generation who have no education worth mentioning .. and believe me the ones who did .. well you never hear the end of it, they weave it in at every conceivable opportunity . My father was a boffin and quite eccentric, actually his brain never turned off as far as I could see , he made me read the Koran as a child which is a most beautiful book and but curiously he did not believe in educated women. So I have read a lot .. but still know very little, but one thing I know is that sleep is a jewel to be prized and treasured as indeed are virtuous women or at least of that I am reliably informed . But then spare me professional saints they do a great deal of harm and I do know a few of those.
But it is not the I pad which is keeping me awake, it is the thought of my beautiful brave daughter jumping out of an aeroplane, admittedly she says it will be with an instructor bur why is this mother of three doing this ? She had an equally beautiful but brain damaged daughter whom the local council do not feel obliged to fund in the facility which will be able to address her escalating physical and mental needs . So a lawyer must be paid to present the case , hence the sponsored jump. We are racking our brains to find another way so watch this space.
Grannie Slamdown and The Bartered Bride
A perfect September day hard to reconcile the fact that most wars begin in September . Mercifully though everything is relatively calm on the domestic front. But disapproval simmers and occasionally surfaces. It started with the Slamdown … now this is a tradition with some of my grandchildren, we wrestle on the lawn at the end of the Summer holiday. The idea has always been to get “moi” down. After a gin and tonic I agreed, but had overlooked the fact that they were very much larger after an interval of two years . Ominously the cushion from the swing seat were put on the grass and the victim was felled in one go by a squirming heap of large nobbly little boys. Of course that’s what boys do to each other on horrible muddy rugby pitches, they are made of India rubber. It was hugely funny but not until the next day that I felt the effects of the skirmish. Then of course the Sainted Husband got very pompous with remarks like you bring it all on yourself and suchlike. Then I got a severe talking to from the son who said “Mum it was utterly disgusting you are too old for that “ there were other remarks about lack of dignity and things and then the Sainted One invited me to be my age … well I ask you … who on earth would want to be that . This leads me onto The Bartered Bride. This is an opera of three hours and twenty minutes duration which we attended last night . Actually performed by the most talented and wonderful young singers … but I did feel sorry for them . One now understands why this work is seldom performed , Basically a story about greedy parents wanting to sell their daughter to a loony for money. After two hours she finds Mr Right and the looney joins a travelling circus Well that’s about it. After the first hour I developed rigour mortis in the back, the plot failed to grip me but the back pain did. As far as I am concerned it was more a case of Battered Bride. Well I am still learning from the deep chasm of experience. No more Grannie Slamdown and no more very long operas.
It’s not actually a storm in a teacup its more about “The Condom In The Jug”. You see The Sainted Husband often says that he thinks I am “louche”. He says this when he is in a strop about something. It always goes the same way …. lots of “and another thing” stuff and it ends with the louche thing. Then as I sit writing blameless books about people in codpieces and continuously emptying the dishwasher he starts on about “ them…. that tribe of yours ”. “Personally I think they are a riot”, I say proudly, “surely you were not born in a blue suit?” I ask, but that usually makes it worse, which is rather funny actually, or at least I think it is. It is true my impeccable past is responsible for at least some of the middle class population explosion. But when, as I always do, I ask him to explain himself and provide some examples of this lack of morality he always comes up with, the time someone left a condom in the blue jug in our spare room bathroom. “It was last summer” I remind him, but time has not diminished the shock horror of this event for The Sainted Husband, it is seared in his memory as a beacon of depravity.
I have tried a vigorous defence, as time and again this incident rears its ugly head (forgive the metaphor), pointing out that this showed a commendable deference to sexual hygiene, but that doesn’t work. Actually it’s over a year now and this calls for desperate measures so I am going to move the jug and use it for cocktails. Anyway there will always be something, so watch this space.