Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Prophet by Kamil Gibran

Another week has gone by - previously I have used the word inexorably, and that does aptly describe the relentless progression of time within my life's journey.

I am sitting in the family room, Maud sleeping beside me, the fire glowing warmly, lit after a chilly day which surprised me because the last two days have been unseasonably warm, so warm, that I was gardening yesterday in a short-sleeved shirt.

There have been more house viewings, nobody new, yet more repeat visits from previous
viewings. This house seems to have some sort of hold over people, yet no resolution.

I have settled down into a routine, which is very satisfying because in all the forty years of my marriage, it was impossible to get life into any sort of order, so out of chaos does come a form of peace, even with a high price attached.

I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning, coffee to hand, addressing one of the crosswords in today's papers, and one of the clues was "title of a book by Kamil Gibran - holy smoke, back flooded the black memories of the ex's bizarre behaviour. One day, in the dim and distant paat, this very book appeared on the window sill of the ex's dressing room. Here we go, I thought.

He never read anything, barely a newspaper, he was one of the least literate people I have ever met, so as usual, I knew this was a sign that he was conducting yet another relationship outside the marriage. We had already had Wild Swans by Jung Chang, a book way beyond his ken so not one he would have bought for himself, the Sudoku craze that died afer several months' intense activity, the criticisms about how many pairs of shoes/trousers. etc I owned, when he would not himself have had a clue, so someone had been poking about (sorry about that lewd word)in my dressing room, the expensive presents he bought for me and the lack of presents from me (dear me, it waa actually the other way round)) and so on ... He was a complete idiot. did he think I was so stupid I wouldn't realise something did not ring true. But - cottoning on from intuition was not the same as having concrete proof. Although eventually that manifested itself, and I did, although latently, despatch the weeping wen from my life.

I am so weary of all this, but there are always subtle reminders throughout my daily life of his appalling behaviour, and I suppose it will always be so. but would people please cease from spouting that facile phrase "Just get over it". I never will because first of all I am furious with myself for not addressing the problem earlier, and the enormity of what he has done to me will never be expunged.

He has just returned from a three week holiday with his ghastly companion, most of it in South Africa. I can say with all authority that this, coupled with Christmas in Ireland and another subsequent holiday, then followed by South Africa, would have cost at least half my annuual income. This venal creature told the Courts he was living on £2000 a month and had no assets. Strange really, because these three holidays taken over the past 12 weeks must have cost him at least six months declared income - how will he live for the next three months! It is certain that I will never be able to afford a holiday ever again

Notwithstanding all this, life does continue, and we must make of it what we will. One lesson that I have learned over the past two and a half years, is that one can trust only a handful of people, and when life gets bloody and it seems there will be no end, there are but a handful of people who truly understand and who are there for you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Life goes inexorably on, come what may

Tennis again today - it was warm this morning, but by lunchtime, the sky had clouded over and it is quite chilly once more. One is so easily fooled into thinking that winter is totally over and spring has arrived.

Playing tennis on a Monday morning is a very energising way to start the week, and I am glad that for these past two Mondays the weather has been clement.

Today - as I looked across the garden, down to the house, thinking how I was going to miss this whole scenario, my partner suddenly voiced my thoughts exactly, saying what a glorious spot, and how strange it was that noone seemed to want to buy the house, thus prolonging my agony. Turning this round, I repeat a former comment of mine, that by not finding a buyer quickly, I have more time to acclimatise myself to the eventual move.

As we spoke, a muntjak deer ran across the paddock by the tennis court, a pheasant came clacking out of the hedge, and suddenly overhead the noise of a helicopter, but most hilariously of all, preceding the helicopter flapping its wings nineteen to the dozen, flew a pigeon desperately trying to out run the noisy machine. It is good that life is full of such amusing little vignettes.

It would appear that yet another putative buyer has thrown in the towel. It all started to promisingly, as always. First visit, absolutely love everything about the house, husband must come to see it, please can this be on Saturday, he works in the City during the week. Husband comes, loves the house, couple are SO charming, discuss price with agent who says offers must be near to guide price, Monday comes, do not return agent's call to get feedback. Eventually ring back two days later with offer, offer far too low thus not acceptable, silence.

No attempt is subsequently made to negotiate. This happens nearly every time. I ask myself, are most people actually not able to afford my house? Backtrack to recent posting of mine lamenting the sense of entitlement amongst the young looking to buy a house in the country. I am afraid that if I was honest, I would say that people sniff out a "divorce sale" and think a low offer will be acceptable because I must be desperate. That, my dear prospective buyers, is far from the truth. I shall continue to cut out coupons, do 2 for 1 deals, sell possessions on E-Bay, and generally cut my coat almost according to my cloth, and wait ....

Meanwhile, my life "trundles" along. Intrinsically, with each day that goes by my old life starts to recede, and a new one starts to take its place.

I thoroughly enjoyed this last weekend - on Saturday I went to a Recital given by a young quartet of musicians just starting out on their musical careers, having met at the Yehudi Menuhin School, and who then moved on to the Guildhall School of Music. This was held in a private house, in a music room that held 60 people, so a lovely intimate atmosphere. The programme was Haydn, Beethoven. Hugo Wolf and a modern composition written by one of the musicians when he was only 11, called The Twin Towers, inspired by the events of 2001 in New York. That piece was quite remarkable.

Afterwards, we ate fish pie, and chatted to these young musicians. It was a privilege.

Yesterday - a girfriend and I walked Maud and Billy along part of the Knightley Way near Fawsley and then went to a local pub for a Sunday roast. Maud and Billy were allowed into the bar, and settled down on their piece of fleece (just like a baby with its comfort blanket) the landlord provided a bowl of water for them, and everyone was satisfied.

Life goes inexorably on, come what may.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Town versus country

When I awoke this morning, warm and snug, I took a little while to remember where I was, and this worried me. Was this a manifestation of my mortality, my ageing, my passage from middle-age to something altogether more frightening - old age?

Then I came to, and as I turned to my right, there lay Miss Maud fast asleep snuggled up to me with her head on my shoulder, Bill was deep under the bedclothes, his head hanging out of the duvet down the side of the bed, just as his mother Violet used to do. This brought me back to reality.

I lay for a while, feeling tearfully nostalgic, and ran through the last 25 years or more of my life, and then quickly decided "Do not go there", leapt out of bed, and reached for my ancient fleece dressing gown, shoved my middle-aged feet into my Fit Flop Billows, and hauled myself to the window to raise the blind.

Outside, it was magical. There had been a hard frost during the night, and everything twinkled in the weak early morning sunshine, the sky a heart-breaking colour of pale ice blue satin, the sort of colour associated with extremely expensive couture eveningwear.

The English countryside has no equal, whatever the time of year, the changing seasons always bring a quickening of my heart, I feel so English, so much a part of these changing landscapes, it is something so personal, so rich. I have tussled hard these last nearly three years, since I have been on my own, trying to decide where my future lies. Town or country. I am quite a metropolitan creature, yet I have a deep love of the English countryside - it is a dichotomy that is difficult to resolve.

During the night, I woke to find a silver light shafting from my dressing room into my bedroom. I rose, and looked through the window. A full moon. Exquisite - bathing everything in its silvery magnificence. Molly, who walks my dogs on a Friday, told me yesterday that there would be a full moon, and she exhorted me to look at it, and wish, and my wish would be granted. I wonder if that was why I had suddenly woken, deep in my psyche I had been programmed to awake, and make my wish.

Will this wish be granted? I doubt it, but it has inspired hope, and where would we be without hope?

It is now early afternoon - outside I can hear the faint whirring of lawnmowers, as the very first cut of the season is made - I can also smell the smoky wisps of a bonfire, and Spring is indeed on its way.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tomorrow is another day.

The house is quiet as a mouse, except for the murmurous crackling of the dying embers of the fire next door in the family room.

I am tired - today has been a lovely day. My ex's niece is staying with her two little ones, 2 year old Matilda and 4 month old George. As I always comment, family visitors make the house come alive, and cooking again for family gives me so much pleasure.

S brought me a bunch of daffodils and richly perfumed jonquils, and the kitchen is suffused with their lovely scent. The little ones are tucked up in bed, and my eyelids are drooping - I am away to my bed, Maud and Billy are sitting quietly by my side, heads on one side, waiting for me to close down the laptop, pick up my water glass and head for my cosy bed.

Tomorrow is another day.

Apocalypse Now?

The past week I have been unable to even contemplate writing anything on my blog, even though the senior daughter constantly exhorts me to post something every day or I will lose my readership.

The events in Japan have completely pole-axed me, truth to tell.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be caught up in something of such magnitude, the horror, the misery, the sweeping away of one's very soul and existence. How does anyone cope with that?

To be frank, I am still trying to digest the horrors, which seem to be increasing daily, especially the dangers posed by the damage to the nuclear reactors. I am actually ashamed of myself for my self-centred whingeing, my all-consuming self-pity about sheer trivia.

Frankly, it seems to me that the world is approaching its apocalypse - and maybe, it is a wake-up call to us all.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A host of golden daffodils

As is my wont, I am sitting at the kitchen table, and in front of me, is a large Spring Green pottery jug filled with intense yellow daffodils. The sort of daffodils that horticultural purists call brash and common. However, to me, they are a wonderful splash of colour, a hint of nascent Spring.

Yesterday and today, the weather has been glorious, intense blue sky, yesterday still chilly, but today, degrees warmer, and so welcome after weeks of icy cold weather. We played tennis, at last managing a Monday morning with out snow or rain, and we filled our lungs with the fresh air, and revelled in the soft sunshine. Overhead buzzards were wheeling, as the dogs rushed around the outside of the court, Maud, Billy and two visiting dachshunds Heber and Twiglet. I had thought that by now I would have moved on from this house, and to another life, but it felt so good to be able to start yet another Spring here.

I am feeling a little more bullish, last week was jolly, I had my girls' evening, and I loved the fact that I amused my lovely loyal readers with my tipsy account posted in the early hours of the following morning.

On Friday, I was invited to a girls' lunch. Hey, hold on, I can hear you saying, you keep saying you have no social life. Well, this was rather unusual - twice in one week. The lunch party was another jolly occasion. I think there were 9 of us, it was a birthday celebration for one of the guests, and we had fun.

We sat in a long orangery-like conservatory, and it was so warm, through the glass roof the sky was cerulean blue, and though outside it was very cold, the temperature inside was degrees warmer and sunshine flooded in. We ate pasta with a wonderful roasted pepper sauce, and chocolate cake with strawberries, and drank delicious chilled white wine.

My social life has been very circumscribed for the past two and a half years, but recently, it has started to improve and there is no doubt one feels better with some regular human contact. For months, I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable in a social situation, having discovered that the ex had conducted a separate social life locally behind my back.

I always wondered just exactly who had been included in these clandestine arrangements, and it seriously undermined my confidence. Although, to be truthful, one grew to know, due to the way people avoided me. Not surprising, as they had been enjoying hospitality from the ex and his woman, in my home, whenever I was away. To this day, I cannot understand his behaviour, and that of his companions. Nor his craven self-justification, which comprised destroying my character, and attibuting behaviour to me that was unfounded. Let's face it, anyone who indulges in constant extra-marital relationships from the inception of a 42 year marriage is probably devoid of a conscience or any sense of the proper way to behave. I still can't work out why this relationship continued for so long, why did he not bale out of our marriage? Maybe, a case of having his cake ..... What luck I took matters into my own hands and made the decision for him.

Enough of the choleric ramblings of an old woman. It just seems to be taking rather a long time to put it all behind me. If I am not careful I will become a bore - and I am sure that I am guilty of the cardinal sin of repetition. The moral high ground is a very lonely position to inhabit. Maybe not worth it, after all. Oh yes, it is!

Away to the sofa, a decent glass of Montagne Saint Emilion, University Challenge - and of course, les chiens adorable.

Friday, March 4, 2011

One man and his dog

May I say that I did not have a hangover yesterday morning. In fact, I slept like a log until 8 am which, for me, is a rarity. I do not sleep well normally, so maybe the prescription for sleeplessness is a girls' night of gossip, good food, and lots and lots of wine.

So - I felt able to face the arctic conditions in my house, a week on from the boiler breakdown. I have never been so cold in my life - after a while, one's body goes into underdrive, a state of suspended animation. Luckily all is now well, and the warmth is creeping through the thick walls of the house, and the dogs and I are unfurling slowly, savouring the welcome warmth.

My bullish mood was broken, however, when I read my morning paper. There was the most heartrending story about a young soldier and his sniffer dog serving in Afghanistan. The soldier was killed on Tuesday, and his dog died later the same day from shock, aged only 22 months, seemingly from a broken heart.

I sat with tears streaming down my face, salty, angry, and hot, plopping down on to the newspaper. I felt absolutely desolate - and sobbed oncontrollably. I knew how symbiotic that relationship must have been between that young lad and his dog, together facing terrible danger each day, the dog devoted and loyal, his master far from home and forging a wonderful partnership with his dog. Last night the television news showed a film of these two working together, the film specially made to show the wonderful example of the trust and loyalty between them. The newscaster finished the story saying that the soldier and dog would be repatriated together, in death as in life.

This story reinforced my sentiments expressed by me two days ago, about one's love for one's dogs. There is something so very special about the relationship between master and dog. The papers are full every day of tragedy and difficult conditions in Afghanistan, and a story like this brings home how lucky we are to have these young lads giving their all for their country, and how wonderful that this young soldier had the companionship and loyalty of this very special dog.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three sheets to the wind

It is 1.15 am in the morning. I have just arrived home after a really jolly evening, a girls' evening, and I am pissed.

I have had a brilliant time - thank God ,l only had to walk five minutes up the lane to a girlfriend's house - there were three of us, we had a bottle of champagne, a most delicious supper of a crab and smoked salmon terrine, a main course of pork medallions, some very smelly cheese, and lots of white and red wine. I am definitely three sheets to the wind, and much the better for it.

Tonight was therapeutic - that means bloody good for me, and the welcome from my dogs when I arrived home was the icing on the cake.

Now - what I really want is praise for the fact that I have typed this post without a single mistake.

My head is spinning, bed is beckoning, and I say thank God for one's girlfriends.

Hasta la vista.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My love for Maud and Billy


My dogs - ah yes, the dogs.

It is absolutely a given that dogs are man's best friend. The reason that I have survived the last two and a half years has been because of their unconditional love, the sheer joy of their companionship and constancy.

They have adapted to every situation seamlessly, lovingly and supportively, the one constant in my struggle for survival.

When my ex-husband was still at home, Maud was a strange little dog - very loving to me and liked to go everywhere with me, but she spent a lot of the time under a chest of drawers in our bedroom. Now - she is so loving and gentle, she is even more my shadow, always with me as is Billy, if I sit down they both hop up beside me, if I leave the room they follow me, sometimes I weep from the sheer misery of my situation and they lick away my tears, they intuit when it is bedtime and run upstairs, waiting for me at the top, as I set the burglar alarm. Every waking minute, there they are beside me.

When Violet was killed, both dogs were amazing. Dear Bill saw it happen, and he truly grieved, but he was so loving to me in my misery. Miss Maud behaved like the matriarch of the family, as indeed she is, and took Bill under her wing, snuggling up to him, licking him, and loving him. It was quite extraordinary, when I brought dear Violet home to be buried in the field, I put the box on a trestle in the barn overnight. Dear Maud trotted outside, Billy following, and they sat down beside the trestle for some time, as if they were paying their last respects.

I have been truly blessed with these dogs. We are a triumvirate, facing the world, and my love for them gives me a pain in my heart, it is so great.

I am looking at them now, snuggled up together in their huge sheepy bed, curled up side by side, both looking at me, their eyes following me, wondering I think, when I am going to take them out for their walk.

Maud is getting very old, she has just had her fifteenth birthday, she is going blind, has lumps and bumps which will have to be left well-alone, and in my heart, I know that this loyal little dog is nearing the end of her life.

Billy is a strong young dog, just coming into his prime, beautiful soft brown eyes, fur like grey silk. Full of bounce, loving life.

How I love these two dogs, I feel privileged to have them beside me.