Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A little bit of heaven - a unaffordable treat

The last four days have flown by - the house is heaving with female hormones again, and it is just like old times.

The senior daughter arrived back from London on Sunday night with a surprise cargo in the car - the junior daughter and Possetta Baddog. The junior daughter had struggled up to Oxford for a christening, and had run out of steam, but was supposed to be returning to London. The senior daughter had an inspiration, had made a detour, and picked her up with the Baddog and brought them home. So - I have gone from a quiet orderly life, back in time to a family life. Unfortunately, as the Baddog had only recently returned to London, Billy and Maud are having a huge sulk "What the Dickens is she doing back here again"? So - the atmosphere is charged, crackling with tension between the four-legged inhabitants.

I escaped yesterday, and had a wonderful treat in London. I went down by train, very unusual for me, but the senior daughter took me to the station and collected me again at the end of the day, so, I was able to enjoy my lunch with impunity. I belong to our Constituency Patrons' Club, which holds an annual lunch in a London Club each November. Yesterday, it was held at the Garrick Club, amazing, because it is, of course, MEN ONLY!

It is the most amazing place, the walls thick with portraits, my eyes lit upon a Zoffany, heaven - it was almost too much to take in. We were allowed to peek into one or two rooms other than the private dining room where we lunched. In a way, I rather like the idea of a Club for men only, I am beginning to weary of the, to me, strident call for men and women to be totally equal. We are not, never will be, and please let's keep some distance and enjoy a few old traditions.

I was asked to say Grace before lunch - me? What to choose, the senior daughter helped me to select something appropriate. All the way up on the train I was trying to memorise the words, I think the man sitting beside me thought I was a sixpence short of a shilling, talking to myself under my breath for nearly an hour. Anyway - when the time came, I couldn't remember a word, and had to use the crib kindly written out for me by the senior daughter - Benedic, Domine, dona tua quae de largitate sumus sumpturi Amen. Rolls off the tongue quite superbly. A short moment of fame for Aurora.

Lunch was heaven, Warm Tart of Bacon and Shrimp, Smoked Haddock Souffle with Chive Sauce, Roast Rib of Aged Aberdeen Angus with Rosemary, Shallot and Claret Sauce, Tarte Tatin of Jonogold Apples with Calvados Ice Cream. Totally divine - these days I have few such treats, so every mouthful was savoured, each sip of wine rolled round the tongue. Oh, joy! Our Chairman is a wonderful bon viveur, and takes huge trouble organising the venues, and the wonderful food and wines. Long may it continue - but probably not for me - it will be an unaffordable extravagance in my new life to come. I am lucky to have enjoyed it all thus far.

I tottered back to St Marylebone to catch my train, and dozed all the way back to my home station.

Today - back down to earth with a bump - I have to put my case as to why I need my Barrister to apply to the Courts for the restitution of my maintenance. The law is an ass - apparently it will be a fight. My finances will be gone over with a fine toothcomb, can't have this, can't have that - I have even been told thst I can't claim vets' fees, and my animal feed bill is too high. Dear God - and the philanderer runs five cars, a mistress, and hides his money. I despair. Where is the nearest soup kitchen? Shall I make an appointment to euthanaise my 6 animals - no hold on, the bill for that is not allowable.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mother love

A primeval urge, mother love. The senior daughter is home and I am a mother again. I shall probably blot my copybook very,very soon but it is marvellous to have her here. My only sadness is that the junior daughter is in London, and not feeling very well at all. She had been here for a few days, but went home on Tuesday - she is not strong because of her illness and struggles in her daily life. She and Possetta Baddog are so looking forward to seeing her sister in London this weekend. Family is a wonderful thing - and the three of us are a tight little unit.

The dogs were, as I said, beside themselves and this is one happy household. I am enjoying a gin and tonic, the senior daughter is snuggled down in her den sleeping off her jet lag, and all is right with the world. And - no, I am not an alchoholic!

The Tory MP, his mistress and £30,000 for love nest

Oh the resonance here! Yes, I know all about these situations - the philanderer has had 16 mistresses, so I expect he has spent shed loads over £30,000 on them all! Dear, oh dear, life has repeated itself since time immemorial. Why am I surprised?

The only surprise is why I let myself be drawn into such a cesspit. I did not know for a long time what he was up to, and I did try quite a few times to draw a line under it all - now, thankfully, I have had the courage to carry it through, and I must hope that, although my life will never be the same again, at least I will have peace of mind. I doubt whether the philanderer will sleep easy in his bed ultimately (certainly not if the present slapper is beside him) He has met his Waterloo.

Now - for more pleasant topics. I woke even earlier than usual, 4.45am, the house was silent, all I could hear was the steady rise and fall of the dogs breathing, and the rain splattering hard against the window panes. Occasionally the odd stray tendril from the wisteria slapped against the window, and it sounded as if someone was gently tapping to be let into the room. This house is my sanctuary and refuge, and I lay warm and cozy in bed, a myriad thoughts running through my mind. First and foremost, I was wondering just exactly where the senior daughter's plane was forging through the clouds, bringing her home. I imagined the dimmed lights in the cabin, people beginning to stir, blankets falling to the floor, and the hostesses starting the ritual of preparing the breakfast trolleys. People clambering over their neighbours to get to the washroom - a queue forming along the aisle. I am very excited at the thought of seeing her - I shall wait here at my laptop for the call to say she has safely landed, and will soon be on her way down the M40, and home in time for a late lunch.

Maud lay up my side like a sausage, and Billy lay with his head under my chin. I absent-mindedly stroked the soft silky fur of his ears, and looked down at him and thought of his mother, and how he reminded me of her. I think of Violet often, and thank my lucky stars that I hsve Billy, a precious gift, heaven sent.

In all the years that I was married, I now know that I was seriously depressed, not functioning on a normal level. I was so unhappy, there was no trust, no respect, an empty shell. My husband was so unkind to me, and now, I feel a whole person for the first time in over 40 years. I laugh, I enjoy little things, life is good, material things are not important, I find relationships with the world at large are easier, because I am at last a person in my own right. People seem to like me - before I assumed noone did. I had no worth. I have come to believe that we have a passage through life, circumstances change, we move on sometimes, and that can be necessary in order to become at ease with oneself. I firmly believe that my future life will have been worth the waiting.

It is such a grey, wet day - it is now nearly 8.30 am and it is still darkly silent and the sky is lowering, promising a day of squally rain. A day to stay inside - I am about to have my mug of freshly brewed coffee - and then I am going to make some spicy butternut squash soup for the senior daughter and I to enjoy by the fire. I am looking through the kitchen door, into the family room. Billy and Maud are snuggled down into their sheepskin beds, just the top of their heads and ears showing, every bone in their body saying "Do not attempt to take us out for a walk. We are staying put". Oh yes, until the senior daughter rings the doorbell. All Hell will break loose - they adore her, and the howls, aqueaks, barks and moans will signal to the wider world that they are in total heaven.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The firmly tied apron strings

In a glorious time-wasting exercise, I have been sitting in front of my lap-top re-reading through the comments recently posted in response to my blogs. I have been very touched and have felt so encouraged - the comments have been diverse, but the common thread has been support, and that is so comforting to me. It is very easy to feel isolated in a situation like mine, and I now know that I am not alone, that it is not unique to me, this mess, and there are good and kind people offering their support and thoughts, many of whom have had similar experiences to mine. Thank you.

The whole gamut of emotions races through me every day, up and down, round about, but suddenly something calms me down. Last Wednesday, for instance, when two things came up trumps

Firstly, I was invited out to a Girls' Lunch. They have been sparse for the past 18months, so I went rather nervously. Putting one's head above the parapet induces panic in me now. The hostess, interestingly, is the other half of a racing friend of the philanderer - they had always understood from the old goat that we had an open marriage, and did our own thing!

I don't think so! Some one recently explained the true situation to them - and the lunch invitation arrived. Oh joy, at last the world is beginning to realise that the philanderer is a seriously unpleasant person. I had a lovely time, met some very jolly people and really enjoyed myself. Life is looking up.

Secondly, after lunch I drove down to Bedfordshire to collect my widowed friend R, and off we went to Cambridge, to a magnificent performance of Haydn's Creation in King's College Chapel. This was truly glorious, the music soared up into the roof, and I sat looking up at the incredible stonework, wondering how so many hundreds of years ago all that amazing craftsmanship was possible with no modern machinery. Do you know, there is so much out there that is so enjoyable, so life-enhancing, so lyrical, that I do wonder what is the matter with me, pull yourself together, girl - I am enjoying so much in my life, and the philanderer is history.

On Friday, I drove down to London to stay with some good friends, and we went to the Dorchester to a dinner in aid of an African wildlife charity. Again, I had such a good time, noone made me feel like I was two left feet! There are so many wonderful people out there, non-judgemental, welcoming, kind and good company. I do realise, however, that as the philanderer has stopped my maintenance payments, such lovely times are coming to an end. Put quite simply, he has cut off my social life, whilst still enjoying his with his ghastly slapper. I think they are destined
for Limbo, and from whence, to Hell! She is such a dwork that she has probably no knowledge of Limbo, but I bet she knows all about Hell!

Yes, I am probably a little well-oiled - I have drunk several glasses of Pinot Noir -I am so excited about the arrival of the senior daughter tomorrow, from the Big Apple. I know she views her arrival with fear and trepidation - but notwithstanding, we will survive! My two daughters mean the world to me - I pinch myself, I am so proud of them, they are amazing, they look amazing, they are feisty, intelligent, argumentative, and bloody wonderful. I am so lucky. God, they can drive me mad!

Billy is cruising round the kitchen, dogs are so intuitive - he knows something is in the offing. I spent this afternoon with Hayley, the wonderful young girl who helps me in the house,transforming the philanderer's old office and den, into a sanctuary for the senior daughter. The dogs knew something was up, and prowled around - following me upstairs each time I went to collect bedlinen, a duvet, towels, first I trod on Billy, then Maud, then Maud got shut in the bedroom on the back landing, my temper frayed, bloody dogs, we couldn't make the sofabed pull out properly, the wretched cat kept trying to settle on the half-reconstituted bed, God, bloody animals! I am actually so happy - I love being a mother - no, I cannot let go!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The sound of silence

I can't sleep and have crept down to the kitchen, to be followed by the dogs galloping down the stairs, and asking to be let out. They have hared across the lawn, in hot pursuit, I assume, of a fox. I can hear crashing, snorting and barking, and no doubt, they will be back soon, tongues lolling, their quarry far away over the fields.

At this time of night, it is so quiet, not a sound in the house, nor outside. The walls of this house are 18 inches thick, made of Northamptonshire ironstone, and not much sound seeps through. It is almost eerie. I am glad I am wrapped up in a ghastly, unflattering, but cosy fleece dressing gown, with sheepskin lined slippers on my feet. There is a definite chill in the air - I am not running the central heating for more than a couple of hours a day, even though the temperature has dropped considerably these last few days. As the philanderer has stopped paying me any maintenance at all, I shall have to get used to the chill as I cannot afford to pay the heating bills!

I have just looked at my e-mails to see that the senior daughter has sent me a lovely photo of her chums, H and M, who married recently. They look so happy - they came here for lunch during the summer when the daughter was at home, are quite delightful, and I wish them all the joy and happiness in the world.

I am feeling reflective again looking at this picture of happiness. I feel sad - how, 41 years down the line, can a man behave so badly and not have a twinge of conscience, and how can his ghastly ambitious young lawyer excuse her encouragement of his lies, and concealment of his finances and his health problems? Not a pleasant scenario, Mrs M in MK, perhps you are hoping for a promotion, for destroying my life?

I muse on the nature of the philander's present relationship - she thinks he is 'the one'. he, behind her back, true to his nature, says he feels nothing for her, she is available, he does not intend to marry her, he quite likes her! I wonder if she knows this! You see, he behaves true to form. A leopard never changes its spots. Not my problem. Watch out, dear.

The dogs have come back, scrabbling to be let in, and have flown upstairs, to stake their claim to a large share of the bed. I just love them, their warm silky bodies, which smell of starch and clean sheets, their soft ears, their dear brown and golden eyes, looking so warmly and lovingly at me. Dogs are definitely man's best friend. We used to own a wonderful Golden Retriever called Bertie, short for Albertine. She had the most gentle nature, and she and I belonged to an organisation called PAT Dogs, Pets as Therapy. For years, we visited hospitals, hospices, geriatric rehabilitation units and sick people, it was such a privilege and pleasure. Bertie brought so much joy to sick and elderly people, laying her soft head with its big brown eyes on laps, gently accepting tiny bits of biscuit, and allowing herself to be stroked and petted. We also helped at a drop in centre run by Headway, a charity for people who had suffered head trauma. She was a diamond, my Bertie, and we miss her. She mentored Maud when she was a puppy, and also dear Violet, she was the mother hen of our dog fraternity.

The stillness - absolutely nothing to be heard, the sound of silence. When we first moved here, all those years ago, I was left on my own a lot, and was absolutely terrified. Over the years, the house has gathered me in and closed itself around me. I feel utterly at peace here on my own now, this house is like an old dear friend, protecting me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy memories of a family growing up

I woke quite early this morning, and pulling up the blind, thought 'what a difference from yesterday morning', when the sky was blue and the air clear. Today it was slightly misty, still and dull. I lay in bed with the dogs snuggled up close, and pondered on my life, the highs and lows, the good times and the bad, and the uncertain future ahead of me.

I realised what a wonderful life I had enjoyed, notwithstanding my marriage - a union which showed such promise, produced two glorious girls, and descended into a miserable fight for survival.

I loved living in the country village in Kent, where my two girls grew up. We had such fun - there were a lot of young children the same age, their parents became our friends, and we enjoyed simple pleasures. The girls had rabbits, Peter and Dandelion, Dsndelion grew enormous and used to be hauled around by the junior daughter under her arm, his poor hind legs dangling. We used to let him roam free in the garden, but he loved to nip next door and we spent hours trying to catch him. We bought two guinea pigs, both of whom turned out to pregnant, and soon we had Gin and Tonic, Whisky and Soda, Antony and Cleopatra et al .... Our lives were dominated by the wretched creatures, arguments over feeding, clearing out the hutches, remembering to buy the hay/sawdust, on and on it went!

There were fewer expensive toys around thirty years ago, so pets, tents made out of sheets and bamboo poles, trips to the beach and strawberry picking were the order of the day. Life was so much simpler.

We lived in a large rambling clapboard house, shabby but much loved - my girls loved it so, and still talk nostalgically about their life there. Three floors, little passageways, nooks and crannies, perfect for hide and seek and sleepovers with their friends. The summers in my mind were always warm, meals always eaten outside, my memories are bathed in a roseate glow, as memories so often are - I recall how sad we were to leave, and can remember taking a last look round, before locking the front door for the very last time. The echo of a child's laughter in the playroom on the top floor, the smell of the woodsmoke in the drawing room inglenook, the junior daughter's tears because she was leaving a pet graveyard in the garden, and wanted to take the long dead pets with us! 24 years later, I can still remember it all.

I remember the Brownie enrolments, the attempts at riding a bicycle with out stabilisers, the ballet lessons, the riding lessons, the junior daughter getting so much pleasure out of her little sailing dinghy, the fancy dress parties, the children's birthday parties with the magician, the junior daughter calling out that she knew how he did all the tricks - thus ruining it for everyone! One particular child who stayed the night, and would not go to bed at all - I wanted to wring her neck.

Also - the adult pleasures. The husband and I travelled widely on business, and visited some amazing places. The opera houses in Vienna, Munich, Paris, New York. I got to know Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Munich, New York so well, the art galleries and museums in those places, how lucky I was.

As I walked up the lane to church this morning, I was still in a reflective mood and this continued as the Remembrance Day service began. As I said yesterday, I have felt particularly affected by the recent deaths of our soldiers in Afghanistan. This morning, as we remembered and honoured them, I thought about my early morning reveries about my girls growing up. I realised that there were many families now where there would be no such shared memories of children growing up and of a family life together, and my heart went out to them. I am so lucky to have had the life that I have had, and appreciate it so much.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Special thoughts for this particular Remembrance Sunday

For the past two weeks, I have digesting the heartening responses to my last blog, Mirror Mirror on the Wall, and I have realised that men, on the whole, are like petulant, spoilt children. Someone used the expression, "Throwing his toys out of the pram" in the comments. How very true, and how pathetic. Do you know something? I blame some of the mothers of the bad boys. They treat them as if they are little gods, and what happens? Nine times out of ten they turn out as bastards. That is an appalling sexist generalisation - but in it, there is a grain of truth.

As usual, I am sitting in my womb of a kitchen, nothing new in that. I think sometimes that I am glued to the kitchen chairs. I have been up to the church, where I have been doing a pedestal for the Remembrance Day service tomorrow. I found this so therapeutic - it has been a lovely autumn day, and the dogs and I walked up the lane to the church, kicking the damp fallen leaves and enjoying the pale sunshine which denotes an autumn afternoon slowly drawing in.

I had picked a basket of laurel, two sorts of ivy, the kind with glossy leaves and dark berries and great trails of the creeping variety, and resinous, powerful smelling bunches of rosemary from my garden. The dogs love running round the churchyard, whilst I get to work in the church. Unfortunately, Billy has decided to be very protective of me, so when we hear the clang of the iron gate telling us there is a visitor, he flies across the grass, his deep throaty bark making everyone jump.

I made an arrangement out of all the greenery, and then attached the poppies with their wires to the leaves, and to the great trails of ivy hanging down from the pedestal. I have done this every year, but this time I wanted to make it special because of all the wonderful young men who have been killed in Afghanistan. The pungent smell of the crushed rosemary, for remembrance, had me deep in thought.

Every day that we have heard of yet more casualties, and seen the pictures of the young men who had been killed, and heard the moving interviews with members of their families, I have felt immeasurably sad. Whatever we think of the state of our country today, what fine young soldiers we produce, of whom we can be so proud.

The dogs and I are tired today. We have spent two days in London with the junior daughter. Posetta Baddog was less than amused to see the country cousins, as usual, but they all survived the beady looks, and silent snarls. Billy and Maud are not town dogs, and taking them for walks on leads is not easy - Billy tugs until I think my arm will loosen in its socket, and Maud winds the lead constantly round lampposts, and almost garrottes herself. Then - horrors - a squirrel will appear, and all hell breaks loose. And as for sleep, well. the junior daughter has a double bed, which I share, but so do Posetta Baddog, Maud and Billy. No wonder we are suffering from sleep deprivation.

I am about to light a fire, decide how I shall cook my organic chicken, possibly just simply roasted with butter, tarragon and lemon, with some steamed broccoli, and I shall choose a bottle of good red wine, possibly a Medoc. I should be tackling a mountain of ironing, but never do today what you can do tomorrow is today's motto. I do feel at peace today - as the months go by, I find so many simple things give me pleasure, and despite all the drama, I am beginning to unwind and find my feet again. The senior daughter has booked her flight home from New York, and will be home in two weeks' time. I am so looking forward to seeing her.

Monday, November 2, 2009

mirror, mirror on the wall

Who is the biggest arsehole of them all? In unison now, N the philanderer - the meanest, most spiteful, vengeful, most pitiable loser of them all!

The idiot's latest riposte in the War of the Roses is to throw his toys out of the pram because I thwarted him with regard to his quite serious heart problems. He tried to hide these, as it was quite crucial in the division of the pensions. So - I got hold of his medical reports and produced them for the authorities. He retaliated by getting his lawyers to state that I was grossly overweight, clinically obese, and because of these factors had a very shortened life expectancy and this cancelled out his heart problems; I was told to have a medical at my expense! I was married to this jerk, this turd under the heel of all decent people, for 41 years. He subsequently told my younger daughter that I was a butterball!

This is chldish, but I am fighting for my very existence and this pathetic apology for a man wouldstrip me of my very being if he could - he has stopped my maintenance, saying he cannot afford it, this man who has pocketed at least £200,000 since I chucked him out Dear, dear, as I said, an arsehole. Now, come on, everyone, write in and say what you think of this man.

It's funny - a whole life flushed down the drain, but I am not depressed any more. I feel energised. I have cleansed the Augean stables and life is sweet and the air is pure at last.

Last night, I drove over to Bedfordshire to see my lovely girlfriend who was widowed three months ago, to go to a special All Souls Evensong service at her local church. This was in memory of the people of the Parish who had died during the past year, and to commemorate people who had died previously. It was desperately poignant and we sat there remembering dear gentle I, about whom I have written previously, and dear R was inconsolable whilst we sang lovely hymns, and then there was a rollcall of all the names of the people we were honouring. I sat thinking what a wonderful marriage R and I had enjoyed, the mutual love and respect that they had for each other and how empty life was for her now, but that she had such wonderful memories of their time together. I sat deep in thought, thinking what an empty shell my marriage had been - tainted by the constant infidelities and lies and the failure to appreciate that what we had could have been so good and rewarding. Time to move on. Carpe Diem.