It's been a strange week this week. It seems like everyone is complaining about being fed up and depressed and I'm raring to go like the Energizer Bunny and I have no idea why. To that end I've been continuing in my bid to "get this place sorted" and so I've been spending an hour every day working on something in the house and also working another hour in the garden while the weather's half-way decent. It's amazing what you can get done in just one hour! This week I started on my bedroom, pulling all the furniture out, sorting/throwing, vacuuming and scrubbing and it already feels great. I guess it must sound like my bedroom was filthy but it really isn't. I keep my house pretty clean and picked up actually, but you know once you start moving stuff, how that works right. One rather nasty surprise I had though was when I pulled out the armchair I have in the corner of the room and started scrubbing behind it. As I was pulling the covers off to wash them I noticed a small "mass" attached to the back of it, and bugger me if it wasn't some kind of insect cocoon. I've had these things before (I occasionally get hornets' nests on the balcony - I burn them off), but this kind of bug seems to like fabric and places where that fabric "doesn't move very often", so the back of that chair would have been ideal and it's right next to the balcony door where the hornets build their nest. I took a picture of it next to my finger so you can see the size. My neighbour tells me she gets them too and you have to be really vigilant looking out for the little sods anywhere the fabric doesn't get moved about - like decorative curtains, for instance, that you never close. In French they're called guêpes maçonnes which literally translates to "mason wasps" (I really have no idea what they're called in English). They're easy to remove but not nice to find, all the same. She was telling me that they also get ladybird infestations for about three weeks this time of year and that's what I'm also dealing with at the moment. Damn! I guess it's a good thing I started this cleaning malarky!
Yesterday morning, just as I was waking up, I heard a couple of buzz sounds on my phone to indicate two missed calls. When I looked to see who it was it was "Albert" in England so I knew that must have been an accident. And that, in itself, is a whole other story. Ya see, my older cousin, Dorothy, dated and eventually became engaged to "gorgeous Bert" when I was just three years old (so in 1961). She was plain looking - not physically attractive, but a lovely person - and Albert was a drop-dead gorgeous young man who was head over heels in love with her. Seen from the outside they really were a strange-looking couple. Anyway, the years went by and whenever anyone asked when they were getting married Dot's mom always used to say "oh they're in no hurry". So they waited and waited but "were never in any hurry"! My mom always said that her mom didn't want to lose the rent money Dot paid them (we called it your "keep") and that could well have been true. So they got engaged in 1961 and in 1977 her mom died of cancer. In the meantime, they're not living together, have never been on holiday together and I'm pretty sure never slept together. They saw each other every evening and then he went back home to his parents' house. Of course when mom died Dot would be expected to take care of dad, Uncle Jim, which she did until he died somewhere around 1990, I would guess. So you'd think they'd now be free to get married wouldn't you. But no - Dot had an older brother, Barry, who was perfectly healthy but as was often the case with that generation he expected her to take care of him also - despite the fact that she also worked full-time her entire life. She and Albert would catch the bus into the city on Saturdays for a wander round and I remember one time her brother balling her out when she came home because "he was starving". When she said she'd left his dinner in the oven and all he had to do was warm it up his answer was "well I don't know how to do that". He "couldn't" even make himself a cup of tea! Now I know this sounds ridiculous (well it is ridiculous) but it was very much the way things were with many of that generation and very definitely the way it was in that household, with my Uncle Jim ruling the roost (and also running around behind his wife's back sewing his wild oats). So Dot's perfectly able-bodied blob of a brother couldn't get off his backside and take care of himself, right (anyone ever read Marilyn French's The Women's Room?)? Well eventually even they realized that it was ridiculous for Albert to go home every night and since they had a three-bedroomed house, Albert moved in with them, but into the third bedroom???????? I know, see what I mean! But Albert continued to adore Dot and she continued to adore him - and that's when fate truly was cruel because a couple of years after Albert moved in, Dot fell sick and died of brain cancer, leaving Albert devastated. At mom's funeral he told us that many years later, well into his 70s, a woman had asked him out for coffee and he said that while it felt nice knowing he could still "pull", there was only ever one woman for him and that was Dot. He and Barry continue to share the same home to this day. Every year they drive down to the south coast to stay with my sister and every year my sister says "Albert any time, Barry - bloody hell". He is such hard work, rarely gets off his backside and has no conversation! Anyway, all that to say, when I saw that Albert had called me the other morning I called back. He couldn't believe I had his number, but I pointed out that I had got it at my mom's funeral. Turns out he was messing around with his phone checking his credit and must have accidentally dialled my number, which in itself is a miracle because they both turn their phones off at 6 p.m. every night because they "don't want to run up any charges". No matter how you try to explain that leaving your phone on doesn't incur charges neither of them will hear of it. They really are living in a time warp you see! Anyway it was lovely to chat to "gorgeous Bert" who even though he's nearly 80 now still refers to me as "bab". When he said, "here I'll pass you to have a word with Barry" my heart sank as he's got no conversation at the best of times and I was only just waking up and not really thrilled at the prospect. Fortuitously Barry is also pretty deaf so in the end I never got to speak to him, but can you just picture those two living together. Albert walks everywhere as he doesn't drive, does all the shopping and cooking and every Sunday he goes to the cemetery to put flowers on Dot's grave. In the meantime, Barry sits on his backside like a statue of buddha while being waited on hand and foot by Albert - who oddly enough doesn't seem to mind. Talk about The Odd Couple, though what a waste of a life for gorgeous Bert as I'm sure he and Dot would have made wonderful parents!
|We'd already eaten some of it when I took this picture!|