15 September 2015
Egads I’ve forgotten to update this again, but today I simply must process everything that’s happened.Esteban, my new life coach, thinks journaling is simply a MUST for everyone with a life as stressful as mine. I didn’t tell him I found putting it on paper only stresses me more, because he is such a lamb.
So, here I am, marooned with Dear One at our
lovely grim abode in Scotland. Esteban has been focusing on de-cluttering the mind, body, soul and spirit. What a hoot!. But where to start? We decided a little practice with normal, everyday household clutter–the type the staff cannot deal with. So, after setting off a round of fireworks worthy of Guy Fawkes, the Rugby World Cup Victory AND the Platinum Jubilee (a very touchy subject, I might add), I got with it. Dear One, you see, adores cozy and cozy means a bit of well–arranged clutter. Think Queen Alexandra and all those photos and bric-a-brac and whatnot. Dear One adores such things. But as I pressed the issue further–for you simply can’t imagine any place less like a haven–a true bolt-hole from the world–than our sitting room in Scotland, it became apparent that Dear One was simply not on board with this one. Silly me, I asked why.
“Why on Earth a clear-out? Darling it’s our holiday. You know I detest things like clear-outs. Was this from those….[he struggled for a p.c. term but failed] old bats at the pub?” Before I could even begin to bridle at this let alone concoct an answer he muttered out the side of his mouth in his bad-gangster-film way, “Thought I didn’t know?” Then looked rather smug. He returned to the point. “Well? I’m waiting for my answer?'”
When he gets a mood like this I secretly pray–on my ancient knees pray I mean–that the Mother-in-law sees her 110th year. Well, as a wife I am duty-bound to answer. That’s my upbringing you see. Nanny was all about “Duty.” As was my school and of course Mummy and Papa. They lived for it. The duty of the cocktail hour of course! So I looked him straight in the eye and said “My Life Coach–Esteban Pal…..”
Before I could continue the fireworks began. A true “Grandpapa’s Gnash.” Merciful Heaven! You’d think I’d posted a video on Youtube of him playing navy in the tub! It was difficult to make out what he was saying. Not only was he ranting, he was doing it in German-accented, side mouth, bad-film- gangster speak. The highlights I caught were “daft” and “ridiculous” and “colonic irrigation” and “Zodiac [mumble mumble” and “SWMNBN”
Well I never. Truly. The output of venom was up there with a black mamba. There he was all dressed up in his Lord Grantham tweeds, nubbly stockings, cashmere sweater peaking out below his Regiment of Scotland tie and above the Lord of Isles tartan and I was hearing abuse worthy of a character down the “Street.”
Now Mummy taught me many things–always wear a girdle, keep condoms in your purse to avoid a tricky outcome, don’t lose Great-Granny’s flask from the King we may need it for the school fees and, most important of all, don’t allow one’s husband to treat one like the Help. It isn’t on. Never. Not even if you are the longest serving Heir to the Throne.
So once his little wobbly had run its course–and as a Mummy, Granny and former Army wife I’ve done my day of wobblies, let me tell you, I poured myself a new drink, took a long, long swallow, lit a
fag cigarette and did what had to be done. One does–doesn’t one? Doing what must be done is the British way. Like settling Kenya. It’s one thing to have my dear girls down the pub abused but to be compared to SWMNBN when I’m merely trying–as that girl always was–to PLEASE HIM and so I hired darling Esteban to help with that. As I said, I did what had to be done. I picked up the Batphone and began to dial the Castle. As he stood watching I said quietly as the ancient rotary dial hooked up the string and tapped the Page of the Presence on the shoulder or whatever phones did in 1925 or whenever this was installed.
“I’m phoning Her Majesty–you dear Mama….”
Soldiers have a very colorful way of describing scenes like this. Something done in one’s pants? Can’t recall it all.
He lunged for the phone and clicked it off just before the ring.
“Now, darling, a clear-out! Why what a lovely way to spend a day or two….” He said, pulling off both the tweed jacket and the sweater and rolling up his sleeves to help.
“I thought so…”
Well, after a nice slosh of his favorite tipple we got down to business. We started with the dressing room I still cannot use. In addition to a lorry-load of items heading for the local tip (including enough gin bottles to open a recycyling plant) we found these gems:
Sanitary towels circa 1933 (How on Earth did they cope??)
A marriage manual published in the late 1880s inscribed “To darling M, this should set things right. Love G.” (Dear One is so sweet-he blushed when he realized who G and M were.)
A cache of snapshots taken of people on safari doing things that would scare Rhinos and, if published, would make poor Haza’s little poker game in Vegas seem tame. Vintage late 20s. Dear One was appalled to recognize his grandfather (oh don’t worry, he was on the sidelines in silk jammies, cigarette in hand) pointing at his grandmother as she chased a chinless type around with a feather on a stick.
A pair of men’s drawers from the early 20th century–these had hearts embroidered on them. So fun.
4 pairs of forgotten Y-fronts with the school name tags of another HRH who is now an OAP.
13 issues of Horse and Hound
An absolutely antique package of “French Letters” with a note around them reading “To darling G, these should set things right, Love M” and dated August 1905) (How on Earth did they….? Like gum boots they were!)
5 issues of Tatler from the 50’s.
17 Novels including Barbara Cartland, Zane Gray and Agatha Christie
A signed photo of Anthony Eden with the face cut out.
A stash of historic railway time tables.
A Parcheesi set which caused Dear One a moment of outrage–Granny said it had “suddenly gone missing” back in ’55.
Some very frothy lingerie with a tellingly-large waist, circa 1930s which caused me to strip off and model it. Funny, his Granny looked much larger in photos of the era….
A recipe for fish pie written on the back of a series of ladies calling cards, circa 1920-something. I must say this did sound scrummy.
A netball inscribed to The Duchess of Kent.
Photos of various dogs, horses and a man sunbathing in the nude–Coldstream I’d say from the height and jaw.
2 pairs of string underpants of the sort they used to give out at Sandhurst with the service number tapes of another HRH who is now an OAP.
A flask reading “Darling Ma’am…always Harry”
A considerable stash of betting slips of all eras–fascinating!
A letter from TOTH to her Granny detailing a truly hilarious party she attended with my ex back in the day. Sadly he was still dining out on that trick years later.
A letter that made me shriek with laughter–a ribald story about Sainted Uncle Dickie and Noel Coward that Dear One said was certainly not true. I didn’t push it–just put it away for later.
But while all of that was often hilarious, it was very poignant to find another Diary–the cheap sort one buys at the newsagents or down the market stalls, one kept from the winter of 1952 until the Spring of 1954. Dear One sat down hard on the bed when he recognized the handwriting. His Granny. How he misses her! His true Mummy if you must know–the son she had so desperately wanted. One entry in particular I want to have framed for him–too sweet:
“16 February 1952. Windsor. It’s done. Of course poor Bertie is in the hallway of the chapel–nothing ready for him, but he’s fine there. So utterly wretched. David came and I saw him briefly. What would life have been like if our fathers had persuaded him? Oh it doesn’t matter. Bertie is gone and all the little rat David can do is try to wrest more money from everyone. The only thing that let me keep going was darling Charles. Sweet little boy. How Bertie adored him. How we wished he was ours. The two can’t be bothered about him–he’s nothing like P so of course they aren’t interested. But oh! how Bertie adored his grandson–the son of his heart.”
He cried. I let him, freshened his drink, then stroked what’s left of his hair in the tender way that always soothes him. We agreed it was lovely and it pleased him to bits.
“Now,” he said once the tears were dried, the diary put aside and another stiff drink knocked back. “About this life coach chappy–he’s not on. Got it, darling. Not. On. This. Voyage. Need I repeat it?”
We were of and running again!