Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arome de Reynard

After finishing my post "Pastures New", I decided to settle down on the sofa in the family room to watch my secret vice, Casualty. I know, I know, but I secretly love it.

I poured myself a large glass of chilled rose, I felt I deserved it, called the dogs in from the garden where they had been for some time, and we sank into the cushions to relax for a while.

Ten minutes into the programme, Maud was curled up beside me, Billy draped around my shoulders, his head hanging down under my chin - I became aware of a pungent and all-pervading smell. Sniff, sniff, what could it be? I idly put my hand up round Bill's head to massage the soft velvety fur round his neck, it felt a little stiff, Oh my God, he had been rolling in fox shit!

I eyeballed him - he looked shifty and very embarrassed indeed, hopped off the sofa and fled.

How very self aware.

Pastures new

It is a beautiful evening - but more like early autumn than a nascent August. The recent dry spell has really pole-axed the garden, and everything is spent with no freshness to it, and a month ahead of its usual cycle. The light is magical though, bathing everything in a soft yellow glow, a harbinger of mellow days to come.

It is hard to believe just how quickly yet another year is passing in which I have lived alone, and still without the final resolution to all the ever-present unpleasantness.

However, I do feel that within the next six months, everything will settle down. In a funny way, the two years that have passed in limbo, have made me realise that it is time to start a new life, and move on. I have loved this house and garden with a passion, a mantra oft repeated here, but I cannot continue to maintain it, both physically and financially, and so now feel ready to move on to a new stage in my life. In fact, I would welcome it.

An opportunity to reflect, to run the gamut of a tangle of mixed emotions, a chance to re-evaluate, to surgically examine a failed relationship, many people do not have that luxury. Often marriages fracture seismically, with no warning like an earthquake, and how much harder that must be to cope with than the situation in which I found myself, where I was the instigator of the break - and the other party continued to behave so badly, and refused to settle, and thus gave me time to really decide that the marriage was well and truly over.

Yes, I have had time to reflect on the past 45 years. There were many good times at the beginning, and little things keep nudging and rising up in my mind - it is impossible to spend your whole adult life with someone, and then forget everything you shared together. I suppose the most difficult thing is to realise that most of the things that I remember and once enjoyed, were not mutual. Every single day aomething jogs my memory - a tune, a smell, a photograph, a book, a classic car racing past me in the country lane near my home, all lost in a fog, a mist of incomprehension that what meant so much to one person in a marriage mattered not one jot to the other partner. Everything airbrushed from history.

Notwithstanding, I have had a good life, and had many experiences, travelled widely meeting many interesting people, so no regrets on that score.

Today, a kind friend on loan from his understanding wife, came to give me another lesson on my computer. I am slowly learning all manner of good things - I have almost mastered properly the art of inserting my photos on my blog, {instead of the senior daughter coming to the rescue!) He also unblocked the filter on my washing machine and dismantled my large, ripped and very dishevelled garden umbrella - what will I do when I move from this village? Everyone is so kind. On to pastures new.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another week, another life ...

Another week, another life ....Where does the time go?

I have just got back from yet another hospital appointment. This time for treatment to correct a problem which arose after my cataract operation 18 months ago. Honestly, I am beginning to feel very mortal indeed - I have always been so healthy, but now I feel that I singlehandedly fill the hospital coffers by stuffing their parking machines with my spare cash.

Apparently an opaque membrane had grown over the lens inserted during the cataract operation. This morning it was lasered off - and hey presto, by the end of today, my sight should be much clearer. No more groping for my glasses, no more squinting at the credits on the television screen - I have very poor sight in the other eye, so was very compromised.

Life here is now more peaceful since I returned the Baddog to her London home on Wednesday. I really miss her, but life is calmer - and I do not have to lug her up and downstairs all the time, defying the instructions to me not to lift anything at all for another 6 weeks. That dog weighs a ton - although I do think she lost a little weight whilst here.

Getting ready to lesve for London brought back memories of the school run. All three dogs had to be taken out first for a quick tiddle, then loaded into the car, the Baddog hyper-ventilating with joy when she saw her bed on the front passenger seat. Billy and Maud snuggled into their sheepskin on the back seat - then check list - water bowls, leads, the Baddog's muzzle, some doggy treats for bribing. Just as I had set the burglar alarm and was heading for the front door, Billy leapt out of the car, he had changed his mind and he flew back into the house. I had to turn off the alarm, catch Billy, and start again.

I was exhausted before we even set off up the lane. Just like a car load of unruly schoolchildren. Ah memories .....

Monday, July 26, 2010

A country Christening

A steamy, damp Monday morning greeted me on chucking the dogs out into the garden this morning. What a change from yesterday - although by evening, the sky was a uniform grey tinged with yellow, a sure sign of rain to come. I was distinctly bleary-eyed. At least three times during the night, the dogs had rushed downstairs barking hysterically, and having been constantly woken up, I felt in bad shape. I assume it was a fox on the prowl, because this morning, the dogs picked up a trail of something interesting around the garden.

Even though I had had yet another enjoyable weekend, so many people say to me in concerned fashion "I expect your weekends are your worst time - I expect they drag, and you feel rather lonely" My unspoken response would be "How about asking me out" but in truth, there is always at least one invitation, family or friends visiting or staying, or perhaps two days in which to just chill out and relax.

Yesterday, for instance, some great friends invited me to the Christening of their first grandchild, which they were hosting at their home. I was thrilled to be invited, not least because I am extremely fond of their daughter and son-in-law. I have found since I have been on my own, that friends have often included me in their family gatherings.

The Christening took place in the local village church where the young couple had married 4 years before, and I had had the joy of decorating the church for them.

The sun shone, baby Tabitha behaved beautifully, and we enjoyed lunch in the garden, with lots of pink fizz and delicious food. Talking to all the young, and seeing all the small children running round the garden, blowing bubbles, and paying games, it slowly dawned on me that I have now joined the ranks of the older generation, the grandparents, to be exact. How time flies.

It was all tinged with an almost unbearable poignancy - because I realised that I would never host such an occasion myself, in similar circumstances. My lovely home is the perfect place for such a gathering, but it will not now happen. I felt, in some ways, like the spectre at the feast. I still have to explain to people, if they are only acquaintances, why I am on my own - it takes time for a change in circumstances to filter through to the wider world.

When I arrived home, I was in deep trouble. The dog posse were so unamused by being left alone for 4 hours, for heaven's sake, 4 whole hours, that I had hardly turned off the burglar alarm, before they stationed themselves by the kitchen door, "Walkies, NOW", the body language of three abandoned pooches almost febrile in its urgency.

Off we went, me muttering under my breath that I would much rather have a cup of tea, and attack the Sunday papers. The irony of all this - after about 10 minutes Maud and the Baddog turned tail, and headed for home, leaving Bill and I to trail back behind them. Contrary? Pah!

Today - will any of them go out, apart from a quick visit to feed the sheep? Not at all - but, it has now stopped raining, and the sun is weakly showing, so tough luck, lazy dogs. After their behaviour during the night, they will toe MY line. Out we all go.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Damn the bacon sandwiches

Today has been reflective - it is interesting how the slightest nudge can bring memories flooding back, and start the mood deep contemplative.

I slept well last night - I was beyond exhausted. On Thursday night,I received a call from the Senior Daughter to tell me that the Junior Daughter had had a bad fall on Bristol station, on her way back from a short break in Cornwall. My heart pounded - the Junior Daughter is unsteady on her feet, and a fall is not good news, because she falls flat on her face.

Apparently Great Western were brilliant, and arranged for the paramedics to meet the train at Swindon to check her out. They advised her to continue on to London, and to go to A & E at the Royal Free, her local hospital. This she duly did, but no mobile phone reception, so Mamman sat up until 3 am waiting to hear what the prognosis was likely to be. We were lucky that the Senior Daughter was in charge, who always rises to the occasion and copes admirably, and eventually all was sorted out, a black eye, and a badly sprained wrist. A very good thing that Possetta Baddog was in the country with me as it was one less thing for them to worry about.

In the past, if the philanderer had happened, but not often, to have been at home, Mamman could have driven off to help out. but leaving three dogs now is a problem.

This scenario nudged back to my consciousness that the philanderer has never been there for the family in times of need and crisis. Always unavailable, always out of touch, and never to be relied upon.

I remembered all the times I needed to contact him - the hotel had never heard of him, non, the Monsieur had not been here for months, the recorded message saying that the hotel had been closed for a year for refurbishment, non, this Company had not used this particular hotel for a long time, non, Monsieur was not in his room, but Madame was ( oh really, I would say, funny that, because I was Madame, and the hotel would ring off instantly) Non, monsieur et madame were honoured regular guests, but had not been for a while (I had never been!) And on and on, and on, it went. The dinners he attended with his "wife Mrs W" not me, and friends of ours were there! And I always gave him another chance. What was my problem?

Do you know something? Someone said to me yesterday that they were convinced that he had serious mental health problems, and suddenly everything falls into place.

God, how I hate him, his lies, his profligacy, his needy grasping doxies who swallow all his fantastical stories - how I hate myself for allowing him to behave like it.

We hsve two beautiful intelligent daughters, yet, apparently none of us were good enough but to look at the substitutes, oh God, is he blind?

It all seems so trivial, so inconsequential, so ridiculous, so banal.

On Thursday, an old friend came to lunch. I had not seen her for over 20 years, - we had been friends in Kent when our children were little - we had all moved on - but she and I had continued to exchange cards at Christmas and the odd phone call. Her husband had a stroke 11 years ago, and then another several years later. He is "locked in" he understands everything yet cannot communicate at all. She adores him, she looks after him at home, they still travel to London on the train, to the theatre and opera, he loves still being able to do so, I salute her. She said to me simply "I love him". It made me realise that my husband had never even liked me, let alone loved me. He had never in 45 years ever made a gesture that showed that he even cared.

I remember breaking my leg some years ago - the next morning. up he got, I smelt wonderful aromas of grilling bacon and brewing of coffee, a little while later, the front door slammed, he had left for a day's rough shooting, complete with bacon sandwiches and flask of coffee - and had abandoned me for the whole day. No visit to the bathroom, no cup of tea, no breakfast, nothing. He spent 40 years in a marriage behaving like this, making my life with him a mockery.

One day, oh please, if there is any justice, he will come a cropper.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A day in the life of .....

Posetta Baddog - the Baddog is staying here in the country for a couple of weeks to give the Junior Daughter a bit of a break.

The Baddog's day goes something like this:

"I wake up to birdsong, all cosily curled up with Maud and Billy on the lovely fleece my country mummy lays on her bed specially for the three of us. I yawn, stretch, and eye my companions, amd give country mummy a little butterfly lick to say "Good Morning" and to make sure she knows we are all awake and it is time to go out for a wee.

When we are then turfed off the bed, the three of us dogs fly downstairs, and out into the garden, running off across the lawn, disturbing the sheep, who start calling for their breakfast. Sometimes there are a pair of green woodpeckers on the lawn, who fly off making funny noises, a bit like one of my squeaky toys, to the willow trees in the paddock. I would like to catch up with them as they dip and swoop away, but my legs are too short.

When we return to the kitchen, we eat our breakfast and then I curl up in a lovely big sheepskin bed and have a nap.

An hour or so later, the big sheepskin bed is put out on the terrace for us dogs, and if the sun is shining, it is heaven to just lie there soaking up the warmth. There are lots of toys scattered around, and if I am lucky, some of these will be thrown for me to chase.

Early afternoon is the time when the three of us go on our lovely walk. We are taken across the lane, over the ford, and into a huge field. The farmer has thoughtfully made a wonderful cart track all along one side, which makes it so much easier for my short little legs to cope - I don't have to hop over the long grass, which is very exhausting for me.

Billy charges off, jumping up at the butterflies, racing up and down the track, flying to and fro, it makes Maud and I tired just watching him.  We are much more sedate, and take life quietly, but I do love to snuffle through the grass, sometimes finding something small and furry to chase, although I never catch anything. Country mummy says my tail looks like a periscope waving through the grass, and that is how she finds me if I seem to have disappeared.

My life here is paradise, especially when the sun is warm on my back, and I do feel very happy. I do miss London mummy though, and sometimes I have a faraway look in my eyes when I dream of being back in her arms, she does love me so.

When we return home, it is time for a very long nap, because exercise is very tiring for a dog like me, with such short stumpy legs. I have my supper at about 6 o'clock, and if I am lucky, it might be home-cooked chicken dinner. It is possible I will quarrel with Billy and Maud over the food, but one can't be on one's best behaviour all the time.

Then - time for a slumber again - I find regular naps very restorative, the country air is very soporific. Apparently, I snore very, very loudly indeed. Who cares, I can't hear myself."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh woe is me, for I am undone

Oh woe is me, for I am undone. No life reclaimed for me.

I have quite obviously somewhere in my past life offended the Gods - for my heavens, am I being made to pay for something hidden deep within my past.

Whatever I touch turns to dust. Please excuse the Biblical references here, but until now, I considered myself a committed Christian, but am now so sorely tested, that I question my faith.

Everywhere I turn, my Machiavellian, twisted, tormented, positively evil ex-husband has got there first, grinning inanely at me, red horns and flashing eyes leering at me. I do think he is the Devil Incarnate, and his consort is a Jezebel, spewing her poison.

I despair - what have I done? Simply pulled up the drawbridge and called a halt to the nightmare that had been my life for more years than I care to count.

How destructive and how pointless - now apparently, after nearly a year without any financial support from him, and having to continue to run the family home until it is sold, he is now telling the world that I have had all the assets and more, and when will it stop, I will apparently never stop, because everything will never be anough for me. Er -we are divorced - I can't claim anything to add to the paltry settlement I accepted finally. I think he very conveniently forgets that after a 40 year marriage, a wife is entitled to a fair deal, not the crumbs he thought were my lot.

This man lied to the Courts, plundered the joint pension funds, spent for England for years on his mistresses and racing cars, was sacked from a good few jobs, and has basically continued to spend like no tomorrow on a finite purse, whilst I have lived hand to mouth. Great behaviour. He is ably urged on by the greedy grasping witch - how do they sleep at night? He lies to her, she lies to him, what a toxic combination.

Despite the obvious injustice, I never win. What use is a moral victory, when all around you are people who lap up their poison, and ignore me, because I am at fault, I must be musn't I, because that is what they are told?

Shame on the lot of them - not one of them has a moral compass.

I suppose I am feeling down because I have still a way to go before I recover after my recent major surgery - it will be several months before I can return to a normal life and pull myself together to pack up the house.

How can two people behave so badly, so spitefully, so selfishly, and believe that they are somehow blameless? What use is a moral victory to me, I gave 45 years of my life to this sewer rat, and in the process have lost almost everything that mattered to me, but not my lovely girls.

Life is never simple - and I know that many people have difficult, complicated lives, and one must be grateful for blessings and small mercies. but sometimes one is sorely tested, as I have already said.

But - you know something? Underlying all this spite and venom emanating from the ex I detect an unhappy man. After all, for years he had got away with so much, more fool me, and he obviously thought he was invincible. I chucked him out, I divorced him, I turned the tables on him, one can only assume that he is furious that I eventually got the upper hand on that score.

If he had intended at some time to go off with the bleached blonde trollope, I got there first - which means his finances have turned turtle on them. No big house in which to continue to entertain her and her friends behind my back, no large pot of gold, as he was sacked, so no large salary, or expense account to dip into any more, so no spoiling of the trollope at someone else's expense. Maybe, just maybe he is bitter. Dear, oh dear! After all, he has lost all the trappings that he felt defined his "success" in life.

Maybe I should take stock, and rejoice that his life is turning to dust as well. I cannot believe that the trollope is a satisfactory substitute, for instance, for his lovely girls. And - when I look in the mirror, boy, do I feel superior to the bleached blonde - no redeeming features when she confronts the looking glass. Personally if I looked like her, I would wince at my reflection!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The search for a new home

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Well, dear readers, I hope so in your case, because I am back, and I hope you have missed me.

The past six weeks since I had surgery have been a mixture of highs and lows. In my innocence I thought that being at home, with beautiful weather, unadulterated Wimbledon on the television, and nothing much to do would be just wonderful. Er, no! How easily ennui sets in when everything you think you want is handed to you on a plate but you realise that you are severely constricted in what you are actually capable of within that context. No lifting, no long dog walks, no gardening, no driving, light cooking only, and the list goes on, and oh dear, a six week old pile of ironing.

A six week pile of ironing? How mortifying to realise that I can still go to the cupboard and dress myself after six weeks of hot weather, and frequent changes, and there is still no shortage of clothes to wear.

In my defence, over the past two years, I have lost a lot of weight. After the senior daughter and I had a massive clearout of the attics and cupboards earlier this year, I found a lot of clothes that I had put away because I could no longer fit into them. So - lucky old me.

This draws me to my next observation. For the past four months, since my home has been on the market, I have been trawling the internet, and myriad estate agents' lists, looking for a suitable new home. What a thankless task. The money that will be available to me will severely limit the possibilities. Basically, the category into which I will fit is the second home one. This means over-priced, over-decorated bijou cottages, that look wonderful, but are wildly impractical for everyday living.

It is astonishing how this category has sprung up - I assume that money has been freely available, and architects/developers have indulged their flights of fancy. Always tiny bedrooms, absolutely no wardrobe/clothes storage space, bathrooms squeezed in downstairs, huge conservatories, impractical because no furniture fits because there is no wall space, the same with kitchens, no room for a freezer or everyday food storage, they have fireplaces, too many doors, a long walk from the cooker, placed miles away from the sink, no work surfaces, no cupboard space, no proper utility rooms, nowhere for coats and boots, absolutely no storage space anywhere.

They have expensive professionally planted gardens, but nowhere to store mowers, garden furniture in the winter, or store gardening tools, nowhere for log storage, or dustbins. Instead of all the posy nonsense, what happened to the simple solution of just adding an extension, instead of the ridiculous conservatories and garden rooms and odd little pushed-out-a-bit single storey kitchen extensions, leaving huge terraced eating out spaces, with garden furniture with nowhere to go during the winter! I feel a new career beckons for me.