Sunday, August 30, 2009

The end of the day

I feel pleasantly content this Bank Holiday Sunday evening. I have pottered around the house today, clearing up, reading the papers, I have washed all the dog beds and blankets, and prepared some of the food for tomorrow's lunch.

Whilst I was cooking, I found myself doing a Viennese Waltz around the kitchen, to Richard Strauss's Wine, Women and Song. I oould have done Strictly Come Dancing proud. Such little things make me realise I am on the road to recovery.

Two of my guests tomorrow are special friends. They have been so kind to me this past year, and two weeks ago, the day after my birthday, they took me to Glyndebourne to see Rusalka, and treated me to a delicious dinner there in the restaurant. I have always loved the music of this opera, but this was the first time I have seen it performed. It was magnificent, the scenery and staging of it quite wonderful. There was a feeling of infectious enthusiasm from the cast, and they had a long, standing ovation at the end. The audience went wild. Most opera stories are very slight, but the great scenery and atmosphere this time, made it seem more meaty. Quite fantastic.

The kitchen is warm and steamy - I have char-grilled a pile of red peppers to slice and drizzle with olive oil, and then criss-cross with big fat anchovy fillets, I have poached fragrant ripe greengages, pureed them and will layer then with greek yoghurt and then will crumble soft brown sugar over the top, several hours before we eat them, and it will melt into a puddle of brown gooey sauce. Tomorrow I will roast a huge hand of pork, rubbing olive oil and then coarse sea salt over the skin to make crisp crackling, a large dish of home-made apple sauce,a huge dish of caramelised and roasted sweet potatoes, red onions, carrots and butternut squash, and a large dish of palate cleansing watercress. little new potatoes and runner beans from a friend's garden. This will be followed by a cheeseboard, already set out so the cheese runs.

I have spent quite some time trying to hack open the wooden box containing the red wine, eventually successful, it is standing in the kitchen waiting for us for tomorrow. Chateau Rocher Bellevue Figeac St Emilion Grand Cru 2005. I love good wine - five years ago, I treated myself to a few cases out of a legacy I received. Each time I drink a bottle, I salute the kind person who made the purchase possible! The next best thing to buying it, is sharing it with good friends who really appreciate helping me to drink it. Unfortunately, there is very little left and there certainly will never be the funds to continue to buy such wine. Oh, but how I have appreciated and enjoyed the experience.

I feel exhausted - please God, do not let Billy wake me at 6.30am tomorrow morning.

The state of marriage

I am sitting, as usual, in my kitchen with lovely gentle classical music on the wireless. cup of freshly brewed coffee to hand. Sunday morning, all is peaceful, no Church service in the village today. This was the one morning that I did not have to get up early, and after a very jolly evening last night, the thought of a lie-in was very seductive. Billy had other ideas. He woke me whining at 6.30 am. He never wants to go out early. This morning he most certainly did.

Oh well, the Sunday papers were delivered early for once, and so I settled down at the kitchen table and spread them around.

I have just read a very interesting article in the Sunday Telegraph, about 'open' marriages, basically about Silvio Berlusconi, and how he has broken the 'rules'. This resonated with me - basically, his wife had tolerated an 'open' marriage for years, to maintain the status quo for the sake of the children, and to avoid having to split up the family for financial reasons. The pay off was supposed to be discretion, to look after the wife and family financially, and to behave in a civilised way. He broke the rules, made a conplete fool of himself - and out he had to go.

In my case, as far as I was concerned, my husband and I did not have an 'open' marriage, and he did not take care of me and the family in the way that he should have done, especially the younger daughter, who has a progressive illness, the seriousness of which he has always refused to acknowledge. But - my eldest daughter, with a wise head on her shoulders, did say to him that if he had chosen women who were cultured, and who made him happy, and if he had not been so mean to me and had looked after me, things would not have been so dreadful. I suppose I am to blame, but it is true, I was never jealous of the women, the ones I did find out about, because they were so ghastly! This final one, was just the last straw, I just could not tolerate it any longer. Right under my nose, with the local slapper, no thank you.

Marriages are complex arrangements. There are no set rules, and it is invidious in the extreme to pronounce on other people's relationships, but to me, it comes down to respect, and behaving in a civilised way.

Last night, I went to the engagement party of the daughter of a girlfriend of mine. It was a lovely occcasion - I took great pleasure in seeing H and her fiance looking so happy, their future ahead of them, a delightful couple and I wish them all the luck in the world as they set out on their great adventure.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Positive thinking

Well - I met the senior daughter in Waitrose car park in Towcester at lunch time today to say goodbye - she had driven down from London, to return one of the 5 cars owned by her sainted father, who was then going to drive her to Heathrow to catch her plane, and she and I were going to say our goodbyes first. What a fractured existence we lead.

We had lunch in Waitrose - she a vegetable curry, I a chicken curry - actually, it was rather good. But - I thought to myself, what has my life become, in my mid-sixties, that I have to share my lovely girls, meeting a daughter in a supermarket car park, so as to avoid the arsehole of the century.

This apology for a man and father, is working so hard on my girls at the moment, trying to get them on 'his side'. What he fails to understand is that they will never accept the tired old slapper he has taken up with, nor will they choose him over me. Their loyalties are obviously divided, but appalling behaviour reaps its own 'reward'. Disloyalty is not to be worn like a badge of honour to be rewarded.

What I really hate is that he has spun such a tale to the slapper about our marriage, the wider world laps it up, and I cannot defend myself. I suppose it was ever thus - and I should really put it behind me.

I am looking forward to the Bank Holiday wweekend. Tomorrow night, I am going to the engagement party of the daughter of a girlfriend, Sunday is gloriously free, and on Monday, good friends are coming for lunch, including my recently widowed girlfriend. If the weather fulfills its promise, we will have lunch in the garden, hopefully under the apple tree on the lawn, and delicious food will be eaten,and I will open some of my very special claret, jealously guarded, which will be savoured with pleasure.

I certainly do not feel so stressed now I am living on my own. The sheer joy of not having to put up with the mulish intransigence and sheer indifference of my erstwhile husband is a real positive. It is life sapping to get the constant riposte after a request for help "Piss off" Fuck off" "Do it yourself" "Not now" "Later" Or even - no response at all. As John Inman used to say 'I'm free'!

I also do not have to spend weekend after weekend at home on my own, knowing that the jerk was up to 'something' and would return smirking, and sure that I did not know what he had been up to whilst away, What a facile idiot!

I must share a little secret with you all - many times he would say where he was going/had been/ who he had been with - and I would not tell him that often his alibi would ring to fix up tennis/golf/etc. and I would know that he was up to something! Delicious, huggable joy! How about this one - quite some years ago, pre-mobile phones, he used to say that he was staying regularly at the Sheraton Belgravia in Lowndes Square. I needed to get in touch with him urgently and rang the hotel. A recorded message said that the hotel had been closed for refurbishment for two years, and would not re-open for another 18 months. I wet myself! There was the Christmas card from the Pembridge Court Hotel, to Mr and Mrs W, our loyal and regular guests. The idiot had signed the hotel register with his home address, calling his then mistress Mrs. W. The phone call from Kiki McDonough, a very expensive jeweller whose jewellery I would die to be given, but at that time, I had never been given any jewellery at all! And - so it went on and on - the phone call from the Mirabelle restaurant to confirm the lunch reservation for Mr and Mrs W, except he was not supposed to be in London, but had given his home telephone number. Do you think he is normal? I think not. The postcard from someone on holiday in Rajasthan, saying how much the sender was looking forward to sharing the same experience with him. Bollocks, bollocks. I suspect he many times did not say that he was even married, the times the phone was quietly replaced when I answered it, the expensive sunglasses in the drawer by my side of the bed, the black lacy knickers under the bed, the lipstick and scent in the bathroom, the sex manual in the drawer on his side of the bed. Dear God, was he mad and did he think I was a fool?

Do you know, I chucked him out five times, tried to divorce him, was given not much hope by the lawyers, he begged to come back, and I laid myself open to even more humiliation. What is the matter with me? Nothing any more, I now have peace of mind at last.

I have a message for Chic Mama, however bad it seems now in your period of transition, the end result will be peace of mind, and that is worth so much. Go for it, girl, I am behind you all the way.

A simple day out in the sunshine

Yesterday I had yet another dose of nostalgia - a really lovely day.

A girl friend rang me at the beginning of the week and asked me if I wanted to go out for the day, to the Bucks County Show. My initial reaction was, oh no, been there, done that, throughout my childhood, with my father and brothers. Not the Bucks Show, but elsewhere. But - on reflection, I thought, why not, a day out would be fun, I do get stir crazy these days, trying to sort out my maelstrom of a life.

Thursday dawned, hey, NO RAIN! A day out in the sunshine suddenly seemed attractive. We set off, waterproofs and wellington boots flung into the boot of the car, and chattered all the way until we hit the most monstrous queue, waiting to pile into the showground car park. An hour later, we joined the queue to get into the showground itself. Not quite what we had envisaged. Eventually we paid our £9.00 apiece, thinking that is soooo expensive.

We were to meet S's husband in the Members Marquee for lunch. As we dived into our handbags for our special badges, we both simultaneously realised that we had automatic entry included to the showground. Idiots - £18.00 down the drain! We are now going to have to write to the Show Secretary to see if we can get a refund. Doh.

Lunch was delicious - washed down with a good bottle of chilled white wine, and I was taken right back to my childhood. S's husband knew so many people, the farmers, hunting people, country people, and it was as if I was with my father again when I was a little girl, being introduced to everyone. My father was a great countryman, and hunted all his life, he was a great character, my girls used to call him Grandpa Horse, and we still miss him. It was lovely to be reminded of him yesterday.

Outside the marquee, tables and chairs were set around the show ring, and we watched the hunter classes, and various displays. Then we went to look at the sheep in their pens, the cattle deep in straw in their special sheds, rosettes proudly displayed. The only new aspect was that outside each display area, there were foot trays of disinfectant and hand washes to use if people had handled the animals. It was good to see these precautions in place. I am afraid I then became a member of the fluffy bunny brigade - I found the beagles, the foxhounds, the baby alpacas, and child that I am, felt the urgent need to stroke them all!

It was such fun - and it was interesting to see how everyone was enjoying themselves. It waa a real step back in time - families, children everywhere, eating ice creams, tugging dogs along on their leads, so many dogs, all shapes and sizes, and I spent the day counting the whippets, they were all poor specimens, not a patch on my beautiful Billy. The fairground was doing brisk business, and the various stalls were packed with people shopping. Very interesting - to see that things have changed little in 50 years. So many people having a great day out, enjoying simple pleasures. It was life-enhancing - one get's so wrapped up in the drama of life, that it is just calming to enjoy a day out that is uncomplicated, and fun. I was exhausted when I got home, a good clean exhaustion from a day out in the sunshine and fresh air, in the company of kind dear friends.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chateau la Fleur Blanchon 2005 Lussac St Emilion

This, as they say, has been the dog's bollocks. I have drunk two large glasses of this tonight, fallen asleep on the said cream sofa in the family room, and been woken up after 30 minutes by Billy thrusting his face into mine, because he wanted to drape himself across my shoulders. Damn him! Oh, the love of a good dog.

In life, there are some defining monents, are there not? This one says it all - all is becoming right with the world!


Signs of recovery

Halfway through another week. Another eventful week!

I think I put a hex on everything I touch - having replaced my computer for the second time, two weeks down the line, it packed up, and needed another Hard Disk and Mother Board. Holy Mother of God. It could only happen to yours truly. But - unlike the senior daughter, my experience of Dell and their back-up was extraordinarily good. So - I am now up and running once more. My head has been bursting with blogworthy little snippets, les bon mots, but now, where have they all gone?

The senior daughter is still in the UK, so she came back from London at the beginning of the week, and we had a little quality time, she cooked a delicious supper, we downed a very acceptable bottle of Bordeaux Superieur, and now she has gone again, like a puff of wind. Was she ever here at all? On Friday, she returns to New York, and I shall be sad. I doubt that I will be able to do my usual pre-Thanksgiving trip this year, even with the real deals being offered by Virgin Atlantic. Seventeen years I have skittered over the Atlantic each November and now, I shall have to live on my memories. Good memories though, I adore New York, and have had some good times there. I was so excited when the senior daughter settled over there.

Today, it is raining again, but I have a positive to report. For once I am not being depressed by the rain and maybe, there is a little chink in my armour, a little leavening of the misery. For the first time for ages, I have had several days when I have felt that I am on the road to recovery. I cannot change what has happened, and suddenly, yes, I will manage. At last - a half full cup.

I have been brought to this point, I reckon, because I have had the support of some very good and kind friends. They must be saints, to put up with me, but, boy, how I have appreciated those friendships.

I am waiting for a lull so that I can take Maud and Billy out for a walk. They are so naughty, I open the kitchen door and boot them out into the garden, they shiver on the terrace, and scratch immediately to be re-admitted. I then have to dive ahead of them to stop them piling onto the sofa in the family room, where they want to tunnel under the throw, mit wet paws, and leer at me screaming at them. Not a wise decision to have a cream sofa in a family room - my levels of stress are off the gauge many times a day. I just love these dogs - since Violet's accident, they have been such good company. When I let them out into the garden early this morning, before the rain came, I watched Billy and he reminded me so much of his mother, I felt a big lump in my throat. He has filled out, and slinks along, head down, tail swinging, just like his mother used to do. It is such a comfort to have him, to remind me of her. I never want to forget her, my kind, gentle, beautiful Violet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Questions but no answers

It is an interesting exercise, this attempt to reclaim a life, I think it is well-nigh impossible. What is it that one is trying to reclaim? Youth, an identity, a life that never existed and is a total fantasy in one's imagination, an ideal of a perfect relationship that one would have liked to have enjoyed? What? Am I admitting defeat, a failure to engage with the person with whom I spent 44 years of my life? Was this failure my fault? Should I accept that I did not make him happy, that he did not make me happy, who is at fault here? Reclamation, what does that mean?

I am so unhappy, but am I more unhappy than I was in a relationship that was sapping my lifeblood, making me so unsure of my whole sense of being that I could not function. A relationship that was so bad, so dark, so unsettling that it made me into a person that I despised. The damage that human beings do to each other is sometimes so corruscating, so negative, so poisonous, that a way out is not an option, it is like a rabbit transfixed in the headlights of a car.

I know that I am intelligent, I can be witty, fun, I am not unattractive, I am well-read, I love cooking and have a knowledge of fine wine, I love my garden, opera and music, I have a large circle of loyal and good friends, but to my husband, none of these things were of consequence. Nothing about me meant anything to him - he appreciated nothing that made me the person that I am. I cannot understand it - he just did not care one jot about me. He persistently destroyed my very being. His constant affairs were a slap in the face - they were always with strange, needy not very attractive women - don't say it, all my fault. I was needy too, but hid it because there was NEVER any response, even from the very beginning.

The ultimate result of this terrible mis-match is disaster. There is little to look forward to - he has spent all the money, he has no savings despite being a very high earner, so what future is there for me and for him? He cannot have a new life with his current slapper, if, indeed, that is what he wants, because there ain't no money! C'est la vie.

In the scheme of things, this is all so trivial. Actually, I look forward to the peace and quiet which will surely follow when everything is finally settled. Money is quite definitely the root of all evil - I know that the latest affair started because the tired old slapper thought the husband was rich - I hope she now realises that he most definitely is going to be very strapped for cash - no more expensive foreign trips across Europe trailing his expensive racing cars to the race tracks, staying in smart hotels, a life she had never enjoyed before. I hug myself thinking of the remark a mutual friend made about her last week - 'God help us all if this relationship goes belly-up. She is a nightmare in that situation. She wails, keens, throws herself on shoulders weeping hysterically, rings up her girlfriends in the middle of the night sobbing. Frankly, for a woman in her late fifties, it is very unedifying and rather pathetic. She has never understood that most men just want a good time with a woman like her' I couldn't have put it better myself!

I suddenly feel much better.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another trip down memory lane

Yesterday was another trip down memory lane - what a maudlin old biddy I am becoming.

I went down to London to see my niece (actually the niece of the philandering husband) and her adorable baby Matilda. This dear little baby is 'something else'. She is 7 months old, all smiles and so cute, I just love her. She is like a wise little old woman, so sharp and an absolute joy.

S and R, her husband, live in East Dulwich - they both work at King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, which is where my two daughters were born. The husband and I lived in Dulwich for five years before we moved out of London - so my heartstrings were well and truly tugged as we sped through Dulwich Village yesterday, past the Crown and Greyhound where we used to sit in the garden with the girls, past Dulwich Park where I used to take them to feed the ducks. We were lucky to buy our first house in 1971, and then came the first property boom so we sold 18 months later for twice the purchase price, and bought a wreck of an Edwardian terrace house. We split it asunder, and I can still smell the dust, and the chemical smell of the preservative used to rid it of woodworm, dry rot, etc. It was absolute chaos. I was expecting the senior daughter at the time, and the house was never going to be ready in time for the birth.

We ended up living with friends in Glebe Place, off the King's Road, from whence I departed to give birth to S. After I left hospital, I had to go to Warwickshire to my family - a homeless little family!

I have the most happy memories of our life then. S was quickly followed by H, 18 months later, so I had my hands full. Life was definitely simpler, I did not have a car, and used to walk into Dulwich Village with the pram, one inside and the other sitting on the top, to do my shopping every day. I always remember that in those days you shopped seasonally, and now autumn is approaching, I remember the piles of melons, corn on the cob with its silks hanging down, blackberries, rosy apples and piles of pears. It is such a shame that there are so few greengrocers left - buying from a supermarket is just not the same. We then walked on to the park, as I said, to feed the ducks. There was also a little park with slides and swings at the end of our road, and the girls spent many a happy hour there. Friends would come for lunch with their offspring regularly, and life was such fun. Most weekends we went away to the country, to friends, to family in Warwickshire and Norfolk, we could not afford holidays, so the English beach was the answer. Life was definitely simpler, and I think, less stressful.

When I arrived home last night, I felt immeasurably sad. I have so many happy memories, but they are tinged with such a sense of inadequacy, I suppose. Why was the life we had never enough, why was I never enough? I feel that it is a tragedy for my husband to get to this stage of his life and all he has worked towards has vanished in a puff of smoke. He has lied and cheated his way through a 44 year relationship. lost the respect of his family and most of our friends, for what? A tired-looking, serial marriage-wrecker who, according even to her friends, has lost her looks. And - he is forced to spend time socially with a group of people about whom he never had a good word to say in the past. Not a good result for anyone concerned.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Returning to normality

This afternoon, I drove into Banbury with the daughters, so that the senior one could catch the train down to London, to spend her last few days in the UK with her friends. She returns to New York on Tuesday, and tomorrow I drive the junior daughter and Posetta Baddog down to London, and life will slowly return to normality again.

One week - and so much has happened. Two weeks ago, I was not expecting to see S until Christmas. Now - she has been and has gone. A whirlwind and a joy - it is always good to have both daughters at home together. Often I ponder on the fact that neither daughter is married, and then I realise that I am lucky - I would have less of their time if they were married. They so enjoy spending time together, and I love having the house full, and I love to moan about the mess, the disruption, and chaos, and know that I would not want it otherwise. To me, life is all about family, and I know that tomorrow night when I return from London, the house will be quiet, and I shall feel bereft.

When I stir on Monday morning, I will then appreciate the peace, and set to clearing up the mess, returning everything to its proper place, and letting my life return to a more measured pace. One is never entirely satisfied at any one time with the status quo.

I have had a week like the curate's egg, good in parts, but it has been filled with sadness and joy and has never been dull or boring.

Friday, August 14, 2009

An eventful week

Friday - and so much has happened it is difficult to put one's thoughts in order.

I's funeral was held on Wednesday. It was also my 64th birthday - symbolic, because I shall always remember him with love each 12 August.

The junior daughter and I set off down the M1 in the pouring rain and drew into Sandy station just as the senior daughter came onto the forecourt. It was so wonderful to see her, she had flown over from New York especially to say goodbye to our dear friend I. So - twice in one week I had flown down a motorway to meet a daughter at a train station.

We had special seats reserved for us in the Church, such a thoughtful gesture from R to think of us at a time like this. I had chosen to be buried in a woodland burial ground, so he was in a wonderful woven willow coffin, with ivy entwined around it, and a single red rose on top. It was so in keeping with I's character, and the whole service was a celebration of his life. One of the readings was entitled a Meditation by the late Cardinal Basil Hume. It was beautiful - I was not a Roman Catholic but it was so fitting. We walked out to Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary.

Afterwards, there was a delicious tea at R and I's home - little canapes, tiny sandwiches, yummy little cakes, I's favourites, he had a very sweet tooth. And - as a send off - champagne and a toast to I from us all. He had left strict instructions that this was to happen.

For me, personally, it was yet another trip down memory lane. So many faces from the past, most of the people R had shared houses with, after I had married. It was so lovely to see them all, and I loved introducing the senior and junior daughters to them all. A very poignant time - and I was so glad that the two daughters were there with me and I was very proud of them.

So - a chapter closes and we are all left with our memories.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A trip down memory lane

The junior daughter arrived at Ashford Station on time on Saturday afternoon, after I had negotiated the M40, M25 and M20, arriving five minutes before her train drew into the platform. As I left the motorway and drove towards Ashford, I recognised little of my surroundings. We left Kent nearly 24 years ago, and in that time, Ashford has changed beyond recognition. As I saw the junior daughter and Posetta Baddog come out onto the forecourt, I called out, and the Baddog started keening, and let off the lead, charged towards me, hyperventilating in its excitement. Someone loves me, I thought! And - I love this little dog too.

We were booked into a B & B in High Halden which, joy of joys, allowed dogs to accompany their guests. So - we installed ourselves, and after a welcome cup of tea, got ready for the party.

Often, when one returns to a much-loved milieu, it can be something of a disappointment. I remembered nostalgically all the wonderful times and what fun it was living in a small Kentish village in the early 70's,where the young were so safe, going off on their bicycles exploring, and having a quite idyllic time, no worries at all about traffic, or having fears for their safety. I had a Citroen Dyane, and used to stuff it full of the young, some of them standing up with their heads out of the rolled-back roof, and bowl off to Camber Sands with a picnic. Imagine that being acceptable nowadays! And - the best entertainment for a houseful of cbildren was taking them up to the local strawberry fields, and picking strawberries for tea. Red-stained lips and fingers, and a car full of happy children. And all the friendships forged - I wondered if I was being fanciful.

When H and I arrived, with Posetta Baddog in tow, but, I hasten to add, left in the car, windows open, and snuggly fleece for a bed, I suddenly felt as if I had come home. J and F live in the most wonderful 14thC Kentish farmhouse, in an idyllic setting, and all the happy memories came flooding back. H felt the same - she and her sister adored their time in this village, and I suddenly felt as if we were 24 years back in time.

I felt quite tearful, I recognised so many faces, and people were coming up to us, "Do you remember me? How lovely to see you both" "Hello, it is V and H, isn't it, where is S, is she well?" Hugs, kisses, reminscences, we felt so special, H and I, these lovely people, such special friends, and what a fantastic evening we had with them. It was the most tremendous party, a wonderful atmosphere, and everywhere H and I turned, another familiar and loving face. What an evening it was a celebration for J and F of their 40th wedding anniversary, but more importantly, their 40 years in this lovely village. Generations of their family, grandchildren, and cousins, and aunts and uncles, a wonderful mix - there was a continuous slide show of their married life, all the milestones, all the everyday happenings. H and I found pictures of ourselves and her sister S, looking considerably younger! It was the most joyous occasion, one of the best parties I have ever attended. Life-enhancing. Inviduous, I know, to retrace one's footsteps, one can never turn the clock back, but to be reminded of a life past, much simpler, less complicated, can be a joy, and reminds one that life has been good, and will be again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A good life in the offing.

I find it hard to believe that it is the end of the week - so much has happened and I find myself in a reflective mood - the sun is shining at last, and it is a warm afternoon, full of promise for the weekend. Let us hope that, for once, the weather forecast is spot-on, and the sun will shine for the next two days.

Talking with R throughout Wednesday, reliving the past, remembering the time when she and I shared a house, and that was where I met the philandering husband. So long ago - 1965. R and I shared a house in Ebury Street near the Pimlico Road in London. We moved in in January 1965 - the time of Winston Churchill's funeral. There were 6 of us and it was pretty chaotic. My abiding memory is of the two of us, alone in the house, no dates in the offing, drinking chilled Tio Pepe sherry, which I used to bring back from home. after a weekend visit. Very sophisticated tastes! We had one of those old gas fires with upright perforated sort of china bars, and we sat on the floor in front it commiserating at our lack of success in the dating game. Then - the philandering husband-to-be appeared on the scene and my fate was sealed. My thoughts and remembrances have continued apace since returning home on Wednesday evening - it is a lifetime that I am recalling, and it seems one minute almost as if it never happened, and the next I remember things so clearly it is as if time has not passed at all. I remember the first time the husband-to-be asked me out on a date. We were giving a bottle party in the house, and frankly, he was pestering me. R reminded me that she had gone to her room, and I knocked on her door and asked her to rescue me from the pest! He was wearing a camel jacket, and a large patterned kipper tie - oh, memories!

As I have written before, London was fun in the Sixties - everything was a new experience, and the city seemed so much smaller than it is now. The philanderer and I drove across France,and down into Spain in a Triumph TR 3A - that was a very brave thing to do then, there were no autoroutes, no dual carriageways, it took a long time. The roads into Spain through the mountains were virtually non-existent, a mass of potholes. We had a wonderful time - no money, we slept in the car at the side of the road. Unimaginable today - but quite safe then. The more I remember
the fun we had, the more sad I feel. Forty four years of memories, experiences shared, all count for nothing now. He is in a relationship built on nothing - ephemeral, substanceless, nothing to share. A life of total selfishness - whereas I feel enriched by my life experiences and now, for the first time in 13 months, know that I have a future, yes, I feel sad, but now I feel I can make a good life for myself come what may.

This weekend will be another trip down memory lane. The junior daughter and I are going down to Kent, for the Ruby Wedding party of some old dear friends who still live in the village where my girls spent 11 happy years, before we moved to Northamptonshire. They are a large family, the three married daughters grew up alongside my two, and between them have 7 children. It will be such fun meeting everyone again, swapping memories, and, hopefully, enjoying several glasses of wine in F and J's beautiful English garden. There will be such a lump in my throat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In Memoriam

Following my post yesterday, dear gentle I died peacefully this morning, just 15 minutes before I left home to spend the day with him and R. He had been so ill, and this was a peaceful end to months enduring a terrible illness.

R is so brave, and can be proud that she looked after him tenderly all through his illness.

Life can be bloody at times, and we will miss I, his gentle humour, his kind and gentle nature. It was a privilege to know him.

As I drove home this evening, after spending the day with R, I mused over how we hd spent the day. We just sat and talked, about I, about their life together, a life with a gentler pace than most of us enjoy. I was an architect, and worked at home, R worked part-time, and he would cook dinner for her when she returned home, R cutting out recipes from various papers, and he experimenting with them. He loved good wine, and introduced me to a wide range of esoteric dessert wines - we enjoyed many a bottle together. I will really miss him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I have had my lesson from the senior daughter - can I put it all into practice. No I cannot. I am a prime example of a crusty trying to be young and clever! I so want to reply to everyone who has posted the most life enhancing comments about my blog. I just cannot tell you all how much I appreciate your interest and support.

I know there is a school of thought, much expressed recently in he press, that to blog and twitter is an unnecessary exposure of feelings and private thoughts. In a a way I agree, but - what is the difference between so doing and writing a warts and all autobiography. I do come from the generation which was taught 'the stiff upper lip' approach. But you know what, whilst that is admirable, sometimes there is a almost primeval need to lance the inner hurt. I know my girls have said to me that when they were small, I was a great one for saying to them, dust off and get on with it. Maybe I wish sometimes I had been a little softer. You see - I am a mass of conradictions.

Life is not easy for anyone, and I now believe that people must deal with their problems in their own way. I have realised over the past year that what has happened to me has been, for me, catastrophic. In the wider world, it is really an insignificance, and in the small hours when I rail at all the hurt and inustice, I then do have to tell my self that there is much to be thankful for in my life. Getting the right balance will take time.

It is early and I am sitting in my kitchen, it is a dull wet day and there is gentle music playing on the wireless. My heart is breaking for my very special friend I met her in my first job after college, we were both 18, and we have shared flats, houses, she was my bridesmaid, the elder daughter's much loved godmother. Her husband, dear kind reclusive I, is dying of cancer. Last week she rang me and said I would like to go out, and would I meet them for lunch. It is difficult for her to manage to look after I on her own if they go out. We had the most wonderful lunch, we met halfway because we live about one and a half hours apart. It was a lovely warm day, thankfully not raining. We sat in the window of the restaurant, talked about old times, and there was an unspoken realisation that this was the last time we would ever meet like this, and it was so very poignant. When R went to fetch the car, I took my hand and said that R had been so wonderful to him, had looked after him so beautifully throughout his illness, and said he so appreciated that despite it all, R had kept their daily routine in place, and had never once wavered. They are both creatures of habit, so I knew how much that meant to I. He was worried that he might not have left R properly provided for - he is such a kind, good gentle man, and I had such a lump in my throat. He told me that it had been a tonic to see me, I always livened things up. Was that a compliment!

I is an architect, a gentle man, not sociable, but he and R have had a wonderful marriage. They have not had children, and they are so special to my elder daughter. When little, she used to stay with them in her school holidays - I taught her about birds, and gave her membership of the RSPB. They used to play chess and R used to make wonderful cakes and puddings, because I, partoicularly had a very sweet tooth, and the elder daughter loved being with them.

I had a phone call last night to say I was fading, and would I go over on Wwednesday to sit with him for a while so R could slip out for an hour. She is insisting on keeping him at home, and will not allow him to go to hospital. They are lucky to have the most wonderful back-up from their doctor's surgery and have as much help and care as they need to keep I in his own home. I know how wonderful it will be for him, his sheets will be beautifully starched and ironed, and the house will be quiet and orderly. She is so special and my heart aches for them

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mortified, chastened but defiant!

Hi, dear readers - I so want to respond to the kind posts, but don't know how,and am still waiting for the senior daughter to ring and coach me - I am a total Luddite.

Yesterday was a total low point and a total washout! Now - today is a different matter altogether. It is pleasant, breezy, blue skies, and no church service in the village this weekend.

I awoke early - aware of being stared at - on the left, a pair of golden eyes with a black centre,to my right, a pair of rich treacle coloured eyes, both absolutely transfixed on my face. How I love my dogs - implicit in this unwavering stare was the message that as yesterday was a total washout as far as dog walking was concerned, would I please now arise and oblige. Oh, OK. There is a symbiotic relationship between my dogs and myself - we are able to intuit each others needs and intentions. I am so blessed - they are the cornerstone of my existence and I love them unconditionally. Even when I have to get up at 6.30 am on a Sunday morning.

By the time that I had let them out, fed them. the sheep. the cat, bathed myself and dressed, they had waited long enough I was told.

Off we set - it was a beautiful morning, fresh, breezy, pale blue sky with scudding cotton wool clouds, the dogs flying across the lawn, snarling, barking, turning somersaults in their unallayed joy, racing along the path towards the gate in to the front garden, little sods! Through the five-bar gate into the lane, across the bridge by the ford and away. I could feel the early morning sun on my back, and I started to unfurl. It really does not take long to feel that life has something to offer after all.

It really is a corner of paradise here. I have to keep telling myself to pull myself together, because many would give their eyeteeth to have this and notwithstanding all the crap in my life I have to pinch myself sometimes, because it is a gift.

We climb the track above the house, Billy races on ahead, and Maud, the true matriarch, sniffs at the young whippersnapper and takes her time. Billy jumps up at the butterflies, and exudes youthful exuberance. I watch him, he moves like a carriage pony lifting his paws high, poetry in motion. He is a beautiful young dog and I burst with pride, because I bred him,and he is 'my boy'.

I look around me, the hawthorn berries are turning orange, before they become a rich cardinal red in a month's time, the crab apples are blushing but not yet ripe, and the purple vetch, the wild sweet pea, is climbing all over the hedgerow, everything looks glorious in the early morning sun. The lady's bedstraw, at its height a rich yellow, is going 'over' and the Queen Anne's Lace is going to seed. It reminds me so much of my childhood. I went to boarding school in 1950, at the age of 5. Not so unusual at that time, just after the war. Many of my contemporaries had lost a parent or both, and were being raised by grandparents and boarding school was a solution. My parents were divorced, and I was in the care of my maternal grandparents. One of my most enduring memories of my days at New College, Leamington Spa, was the obsession with long walks. Quite taxing for a young girl. but - we had to identify and remember every wild flower, bird, and butterfly we saw on every walk. I remember to this day everything I learnt. It was, actually, the most wonderful education. It means that every time I walk my dogs, I identify the seasons, and recognise and name everything I see. I see Buzzards wheeling in the sky, herons sailing on their prehistoric way, kingfishers, green and spotted woodpeckers, all the tits, song and missel thrushes, I am so lucky, it enriches my life. I am so grateful to have been taught about all this. Every little plant in the hedgerow, I know its name, and it is a rare joy. My husband used to call me a know-all. I know who is the richer for this knowledge.

It is a tussle trying to come to grips with a new life - but I truly think in this case, venality and disloyalty will prove to be the loser.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

a la retourne

Possibly a misnomer - because I am not a Frenchwoman returning after her annual holiday.

I am a miserable old cow, wallowing in her pit, seemingly unable to drag herself out and back into life.

Oh God, will it never stop raining, thus inducing such streams of self-pity I cannot distinguish between the rainfall and my tears. At least dear Billy flies from somewhere in the house from time to time, places head on lap, and then reaches up and cleans my salty wet face. A simple thing such as this pulls me back every time, even if only for a short while.

I managed 12 months, and now it is downhill all the way. I feel as if I never existed and never mattered and never had a place in this world. Everything has been expunged, and I am so cross with myself. I knew perfectly well what a bastard my husband was, and that his constant infidelties, lies ansd profligacy should have hardened me, but nope, it didn't. I lived in my little bubble, took him back every time,and went on to endure even more misery, even more lies, and infidelities, and now I hate myself almost as much as I hate him.

Nothing was right for him - I have discovered that he started his constant affairs when my girls were very small, with my sister-in-law, my oldest friend, his secretsries, every woman who crossed his radar, what did they see in him? Some of these women, I know, did it to spite me, what had I ever done to them?

We were very short of money for years, the girls did not have everything I would have liked for them, he must have been spending precious pennies on all these women, or, fiddling his expenses all along the line. Dear God. I went out to work, long hours doing demeaning jobs, long hours commuting,and all the time, he was serially misbehaving. He had a mistress in America for years, older than him, and he had the gall to arrange for the girls to spend summers with her and her family, and guess who paid the air fares from her meagre wages. Yup, yours truly. I must add that this all came to light many years later. He used to come home after what he said were three week study tours in the States, with cashmere sweaters, Gucci watches, and say they were corporate gifts! Cashmere sweaters were major news 20 years ago. I believed him! He did bring me a Coach handbag once, and much later I discovered SHE bought it for me. God almighty. Thank you for lending me your husband. Bitch. She was 15 years older than him, a grandmother, looked like a thinner Barbara Bush, and was very small town America. He asked her to England, and ahe came to lunch, yup, she came to lunch. No, at the time I did not know. Why did I not cotton on? She arrived with a gift of Hartmann leather luggage. Mucho denario, as they say. Idiot me. She was introduced as a business colleague. She even came to England, and took my girls out from boarding school. Dear God, what a bastard I was married to. He never had the guts to bail out, he shagged his secretary from the mid-eighties until recently and had the cheek to say to my eldest daughter that he finally gave her up because he realised she was expecting him to marry her. Odd, really, because this ran concomittantly with the present slapper. Oh dear, oh dear. Does she think he will marry her? I don't think so. He is with her through desperately not wanting to lose face after being chucked out by me, and being finally divorced by me. Just retribution, I think.
I should like to add here that when on his American trips, he enjoyed holidays at an exlusive country club called Belle Rive, when the girls and I did not enjoy holidays, because there was no money avsilable, with the Barbara Bush look-alike I should add. What a total wanker.

No, I do not feel scorned. I did the right thing - but it is hard - hard to face the fact that I mattered not a jot to a man I spent 44 years of my life with - hard to accept that I have been replaced by a money-grubbing, serial marriage wrecker, even though at my behest, of whom someone said to a frind of mine this week, "Is it true that V's husband has gone off with G?" when told yes, but that I had chucked him out, said "How extraordinary, G is so hard and V is so attractive" Natch

Rescue me, rescue me. from my slough of despond. The bloody rain is teaming down the windows, God, life is dreary. How, oh how, could I have allowed it to happen?

Dear friends, I was married to the bastard of the century for years. My only consolation at the moment, is that he is shacked up with the tart of the county, who, in the words of some very good friends of mine, has 'had' half the men in the county, is as hard as nails, and thinks she has landed a 'rich entrepreneur' Ha-ha -bitch - he has spent all the money, and a lot of it on her. Pot empty - none for her now.

Has this been a catharthis? Probably not, but it bloody well helps.

I must add that there is nothing written here that is news to my two dear daughters. They struggle with their loyalies it could never be otherwise - and I am so sorry.