Thursday, May 28, 2009

Them and Us...

I haven't commented on the MPs' expenses scandal so far, but I must say that hearing the other day that the poor things are feeling awful, that there's a terrible atmosphere in the House of Commons and some of them are depressed made me want to throw up. What are they thinking? Had they never been found out, they would have been merrily carrying on with their hands in the till, making idiots of us all. Oh dear! As so many people have commented, if any of us (the common people) been discovered doing the same thing, we would have been hauled up in front of a judge and (rightly) convicted of Fraud. I've heard all the arguments about them not being paid enough to make ends meet - well how would they like to live on what most of us have to live on? (And pay our taxes, pay our own heating bills, buy our own train tickets - not First Class because that would be a joke - pay for all our own house repairs and buy our own food.)
Yes, they've been elected to represent us, but that really doesn't give them a licence to cheat us.
It saddens me to think that Politics seems to corrupt just about everyone. Where are the people with integrity who actually care about what happens to our society?

The Swiss Parents have come and gone, and were truly a delight to have in my house. They came bearing yet more Swiss chocolate, which went down very well, and were most appreciative of everything. They were here for three nights, and went up to London on one of their days. They didn't speak any English really, except the odd word, so I had to reluctantly reveal the fact that I spoke French. It was worth it though for the look on my Student's face when she heard me chatting away to her Mum and Dad!

Grandson has been here since Tuesday, as it's his Half Term. So I've been having lots of hugs and kisses. His latest fun thing is to launch himself at me and hang on tight while he kisses me very hard. It's so funny, we both end up on the floor with the giggles. Today we re-potted his sunflower seedlings on the balcony, and then we went down to the Paddling Pool for the first time this year. True to form, he raced around in his swimming trunks for about four hours. I don't know where he gets the energy from (unless it's the four helpings of spaghetti bolognese he ate). It's nearly as strenuous following him around, but there's no alternative - the place is packed and it would be so easy to lose track of him! Anyway, we survived, and he is having a pre-Birthday treat tomorrow. I'm taking him to the Sea-Life Centre and then on the Pier for a bit of fun. After that, we're coming back here for a Birthday tea, with sausage rolls, jelly and a chocolate Dalek cake (chosen by him). A few of my friends will be coming too, and his Mum will turn up after work. He is going to be five on Saturday, and is having his proper Birthday Party at home then, with lots of his little friends from school. I can't believe how fast those five years have gone. So much has happened, and all our lives have changed hugely during that time. What a good thing it is that we can't see into the future...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In the midst of Life....

Well, so mucho for good intentions, I've been even worse at Blogging since I came home. To be fair, it has been a frantic ten days, but I must stop making excuses and just get on with it!

The first 10 days with my new Student have been fine. She is a nice little 22 year old Swiss girl whose native language is French. She had a bit of trouble settling in when she discovered that I didn't have Wi-Fi and so she couldn't connect to her beloved lap-top, and her beloved friends, 24 hours a day. The beautiful bottom lip trembled, and a crystal tear appeared in the corner of her eye. But I was implacable - not to say tough. I tried to explain that it wasn't a case of money - I just don't know my neighbours well enough to knock on their doors and ask if we can used their Wi-Fi connection - and anyway, I'm not sure how that would work. It was fine once she went into School, and they sorted her out I guess, because I didn't hear another word about it! Apart from that, we are getting along famously, and her parents are coming to stay this weekend. It will be interesting, as they apparently don't speak a word of English. It may turn into a French Farce, and if it does, I'll share the fun with you.

The very sad news came when I telephoned my lovely Solicitor, ironically as it turned out, to ask him to bring my Will up to date. When he answered the phone he sounded very down, so I asked him what was wrong - only to hear that his lovely wife had died, in April, of breast cancer, or rather the results of a late diagnosis of breast cancer, and the ensuing operations, chemotherapy and finally inoperable brain tumours. I was devastated and terribly sad for him. She was only 42, and has left three children (11, 16 and 17) and a sad and lonely husband. He was obviously trying to be brave, but I'm afraid I cried, and so did he in the end. Words are totally inadequate when something like this happens - and it is so terribly unfair that someone so young should be wrenched away from her family and a full and happy life. I knew that she had been ill, and had had to have reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, but I had assumed (and hoped) that she would survive. Oh Bugger.

My 8th Therapy session last Friday was a tough one, which brought up some deeply buried family stuff. It took me completely by surprise because I just didn't see it coming, and I ended up feeling rather threatened. I came home exhausted and slept again, and then spent the night in a state of anxiety. I can't really explain it, because it's rather close to home, but my protective instincts were aroused not only for my two grown-up children, but also for my Therapist who is taking this stuff on. Having re-read this, I can see that it isn't making any sense at all. Sorry...

Grandson was here again, last weekend, and we were hoping to go to the Jill Windmill on Sunday to see her working. Actually we did go, but the weather closed down on us and we sat in the car for nearly an hour, waiting for the storm to abate slightly. We tried to get out once, but were beaten back by the howling wind and rain, so in the end we retreated and came home. Daughter came to pick him up on Monday afternoon (he had an extra day with me), and rushed in with her mobile glued to her ear - looking gorgeous - and hurrying Grandson along because she was going out to dinner. Again. There's obviously something going on because she never has a moment to stop and talk, and poor Grandson is rushed from pillar to post to fit in with her social arrangements. Add to that the fact that she has bought a bright red convertible car (I know, don't ask!), and is planning a holiday without Grandson (guess who gets to look after him) but with the Boyfriend, because he is paying!!! She is avoiding all conversations about the future in any real sense, and acting as if nothing has happened. Not only that, but when I went to their house last week, I was confronted with the most disgustingly dirty tip, five kittens and their mum, and a fridge you wouldn't want to touch if you valued your health. After half an hour I couldn't breathe (allergic asthma) and when she came home I left saying that I wasn't going back at least while the kittens are there. It's all rather a worry. But of course I can't say anything without being in the wrong again.

On a happier note, I had a lovely visit from my London BF, whom I met on Skyros in 2001, and who came to stay on Monday. She arrived just in time to say a cheery hello to Grandson, and then we had a wonderful time catching up. She had brought real Madeira cake, from Madeira, and some potent Madeira Wine. We ate, drank and talked non-stop until we could talk no more, and then we resumed next morning over breakfast before going for a walk along by the sea. She had tickets for a BAFTA special event at the Brighton Dome yesterday evening, to see David Attenborough talking about his life. There was a Champagne Reception first, with very good champagne and tasty canapes, so we felt very spoilt. And the on-stage Interview, with Melvin Bragg doing the interviewing, was so good we both felt it could have gone on much longer. David Attenborough really is a Great British Institution. Afterwards she had to whizz off to her Mum's as they were going to the Chelsea Flower Show today, but it was a fabulous visit.

Now I'm off to bed - feeling very lucky to be alive and kicking...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So nice to come Home to..

Well, I'm back and shivering with the cold after spending a week in Tenerife, lying in the sun. "Poor you!" I hear you say, or perhaps I don't. Never mind, but 27 degrees was pretty hot, and I actually have a bikini suntan for the first time in years. I just thought "Sod it", and believe me there were lots of women exposing lots more flesh than me by the pool. For example, there were the "two fat ladies" (or 88 in Bingo parlance, I'm sure you get the picture). These two were quite young English women who were absolutely enormous - with powerful shoulders and rolls of fat, all of which quickly tanned to a rich reddy-brown. They had also decided to go topless, and this was quite scary. Somehow, their breasts (pardon me) didn't look like breasts, but like another set of extra large bulges, of which they seemed rather proud. I didn't know quite how to respond to this display, and luckily ABF and I were draped over our loungers on the far side of the pool, away from them, so we were able to modestly avert our eyes most of the time. Anyway, after the first day I had on what looked like a white bikini, while the rest of me was bright pink. Not a pretty sight. But it did improve slightly, and now I have a great tan to start the Summer with. If it ever arrives, that is.

We enjoyed ourselves enormously, eating, drinking and doing nothing, and I managed to read two and a half books. The first was "One Fifth Avenue", by Candace Bushnell of "Sex and the City" fame. It was absolutely wonderful - the perfect holiday read. Being transported to the high life in New York was the best holiday escapism, and I do so admire her ability to make her characters come alive. Somehow, she also makes you feel just what she wants you to feel about these people. You love them or you hate them, but you really believe in them too. I was absolutely there. I didn't want the book to end, so I tried to slow down a bit, but in the end I had to finish it. And now I intend to read it again! The second book was a really elegant little novel by Fay Weldon, called "She may not Leave" - quite a different kettle of fish, and beautifully written too. It has moments when you shiver with dread, in fact it arouses a huge range of emotions. Any woman who has ever struggled with children, child-care, family relationships, sex, work, etc etc, will identify with this. It's wonderful in an odd, quirky way - and it made me reflect on how all our lives are similar, even when our experiences are different. I think Fay Weldon writes brilliantly about women and their lives (as she did in "The Life and Loves of a She-Devil"), and the fact that she wrote that immortal line "Go to work on an egg" when she was a Copywriter, makes her all the more human somehow! The third book is "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth, which I'm finding it harder to get into. I have a battered paperback copy, which Son sent me, and he said that he couldn't put it down once he started it. So far, it hasn't had that effect on me, but I'll keep on trying.

Home thoughts from abroad.. I didn't miss anyone much, except Grandson of course, but I was so pleased to get home and see that I hadn't missed the wonderful Oriental Poppies in my garden - they are just out now. They look like giant orange papery-silk fake flowers, with dark, black centres, and the bees can't get enough of them. I also came back in time to catch the double white lilac " Madame Lemoine", which I missed last year too, when I was on my fateful trip to France. All I can say is, I'm so pleased that I didn't decide to leave these shores permanently. We may be going through pretty dire financial times, but that's just when we need our family and friends around us, isn't it?