Saturday, August 9, 2008

The secret Victorian garden at St Mary's taken by Cathy while I had tea with my mother in a Victorian drawing room. My mother, for a change, was probably not the oldest person in the room.


Cathy got up at eight to go to the doctor. She has floaters in the vitreous of her right eye. They are harmless for the moment as long as they do not detach the retina. Visually they are a bit of a nuisance. They started when Kim was given his birthday chocolate cake.

Just now my mother had a moment of lucid understanding of her condition when Dana told her she had had several strokes. Before that Cathy was bathing her, but could not get her out of the bath alone. Thus she called on me to help. After years of my mother's modesty, it was strange to see her naked.

My left toe has been bothering me greatly. Getting up in the night to go to the bathroom, I felt down to the edge of the nail, found a very sharp corner with my finger nail, and, still unwise with sleep, pulled it off. My toe stopped its throbbing, but I fear I will have some explaining to do for my chiropodist.

Yesterday we went to St Mary’s part of a restored Elizabethan inn in Bramber. While Cathy and Dana went round a secret Victorian garden, Gareth, Mummy and I had tea in a large Victorian room. As we were leaving I asked the curator who was sitting there,what this strange instrument with a large upright expanse of cloth would sound like. He said it was an upright grand piano, very popular in the early nineteenth, but now rare as many had been converted into bookcases or just destroyed. 1826. The man sitting with him was something Thoroughgood, the composer and owner of the house. Mummy said that he was very handsome and he charmingly responded that that had made his week.

We returned here, Dana set off for the beach and then six of us, including Raf and with Gareth scrunched up in the trunk, went to the very good fish restaurant in Shoreham. I had huge prawns in a ginger sauce followed by excellent fish and chips. Cod. Chased down with a mild beer. Beck’s.

Slept almost twelve hours with a pill as I thought I would not easily get to sleep.To stop my embarrassing hand tremors I have started taking two beta-blockers again every night. So sleep a lot during the day. Yesterday afternoon I lay on the sofa near Mummy and, in between little naps for both of us, told her that she had given me a very solid foundation for life by loving me when I was young, as her mother had done for her. Some people, I said, do not have that foundation and it is up to the ones who do to make up for it later in life. She completely understood, thanked me for praising her and also thanked me for talking to her about the things she liked to talk about. The worst thing we all do here is talk about her while she is right there in a room with us. Some of the time she is aware and it cannot be comforting to hear one’s family talking about her as if she were a dog or a horse.

Unlike any of my mis apprehensions of her being with us, it has all been quite easy. I have been a lazy coward however about getting her up to bed. I have not done it once and Cathy, not even her own daughter, has several times.

Kim has returned and is buzzing around, very busy and sometimes shouting at someone over a blue tooth device which seems to be implanted like something out of Startrek. He promises to have an internet connection by tomorrow.

Everyone else went shopping while I fell asleep in a long bath and again afterwards in the Tamlin. Carol came in a watched photos of the wedding on this machine and is now watching the Olympics, while I boycott them on account of China’s treatment of its dissidents and as I promised I would on a Buddhist blog. It seems we are to have duck for dinner eventually. I starve here and then eat too much and fall asleep bloated and feeling slightly sick.

The fish I had in Paris was lotte. This is monk fish, quite common in Canada. Gareth worked all this out for me last night in that very nice fish restaurant in Shoreham. The one with the sloping greenhouse roof.

I did not much like the duck, which had been cooked with great care, but the turnips and anti-pasti including seared artichokes were all to die for. I ate too much and felt chock a block full and a bit sick at bed time.

After dinner we all watched the tail end of a Poirot. As each person came into the room talking, Gareth got more and more annoyed until he was as cross as one could be saying “shut up”. Now he has exploded again with me because I said that the Chinese were as oppressive as the Germans were in 1936. I was about to say that one might have boycotted those games, but he turned it around to say that what I had said was an insult to his Jewish friends. He can only view the government of Tibet before the Chinese take over as a much resented Theocracy. Only Dana seems to be able to argue with him

Dana just drove Cathy and I to a shop under the downs where we bought biscuits for Seaton house, ginger candy, patum’s pepperium, ginger wine and gravalax.

Last night Carol offered Cathy a spa treatment for her birthday so I shall be forced to give her the anniversary gift. I am quite glad of it as I want to see it in our new house. As she is my best friend, I keep having to suppress the urge to say to her, “do you know what I got for Cathy’s birthday?”

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