The day is going quite well so far. The worst thing about it is the weather, which would be quite acceptable for March or October, but in August is just plain bad-mannered. It’s been a dreary heavy drizzle most of the day. We had a piece of china to photograph; we’ve not perfected the lighting yet for the light box, so took it outside and did it in daylight in the box – we got wet but the china and camera didn’t. Weeza and Zerlina came over for the day and Weeza did the ad and sent it off to the antiques magazine.
Zerlina is completely recovered from her chickenpox – there are still a few spots on her body but none on her face or limbs and she’s fine. She’s using much longer sentences, it’s only nine days since we last saw her but a corner has suddenly been turned and you can tell that she’s deliberately using a variety of words and finding two or three ways of saying the same thing. She’s putting in conjunctions and indefinite articles and grammarish sorts of things – for example, a fortnight ago she might have said “Give Tilly biscuit”, now she says “I’ll give a biscuit to Tilly”. She knows she’s doing it and enjoys it.
Meals on Wheels was rather nice – look, I take pleasure in simple things – and everyone was cheerful. I asked Lorna how her hip is, she had a new one last year. It was the second replacement, she had it done first in her fifties, thirty years earlier. “That’s fine,” she said, “it’s my back and knees that are the problem.” She is philosophical about it and is glad that her health is otherwise well. “You’ve got good neighbours all around,” I said. “Oh yes, I gain more friends if anything, they’re often popping in. ‘You know where the kettle and teapot are,’ I say, and they help themselves and come for a chat”. It struck me, as before (when I wrote about a MoW survey) how happy most of these people are. I can see why they get visitors, because they’re a pleasure to call on. I remember a couple of elderly widowed sisters who lived together, where my mother used to live. They were very pleasant and loved visitors, but they couldn’t bear people to go. One of them edged in front of the door and they started to gabble new conversational topics the moment a visitor started to look at her watch. “I must call on Kitty and Mary,” my mother would say, “but I have to have a free afternoon. An hour is never enough.” And so it got left another week, where a cheerful greeting and goodbye would have meant frequent droppings-in. And then, of course, there are people who always have something to complain about.
My sister-in-law has a story about an old lady who used to live in the village. My mother-in-law was very sweet-natured and generous, and a lot of people didn’t have money for treats in those days, even small ones. So she always made extra and sent one of the children, usually her daughter, to give a little present to one of the elderly villagers. This particular lady was never satisfied. If she was given a pot of strawberry jam, she’d really hoped for gooseberry jelly. If it was a cake, she really would have liked a bowl of soup. So once, June went prepared. She took the jar of strawberry jam out and proffered it. “Oh, how kind your mother is. I would have really liked apricot, though.” “Don’t worry,” said June, smartly whipping back the jar. And she got a jar of apricot out of her basket and gave it to her instead. The poor old woman was quite embarrassed. And June’s mother was none too pleased with her for her rudeness – that is, for letting the old lady know that she had been rumbled.
Anyway, this afternoon, I made a cake. Not for any reason, I just felt cheerful. Squiffany had phoned to ask Zerlina in to play for a while, and it was just cooling when they got back. They had to get back home for tea, so I cut off a large piece and gave it to them. Weeza phoned just now (really just now, I was writing the previous sentence at the time) so that I could hear Zerlina say how much she liked the cake. She was still eating. “Yum, yum,” she was saying in a loud voice.