It’s too late

19 Apr 2023

I have lived in this house for 7 years, 3 of those coping with Mr G’s illness, care home and death, 15 months locked up with Covid. In between I tried to get a ‘talking shop’, or ‘salon’ going. Reasons: space, wide scope for activities, town centre, lots of lonely people, wheelchair access. People said what a good idea, but I needed backing from ‘authority’, mayor, organisations dealing with people living alone, publicity – not only no interest, did not even bother to reply. Now I am off with no regrets, and social life has gone crazy. People saying they will miss me, flattering? It would not have influenced my decision, but I mutter that it would have been nice if they had said ‘Bon jour’ more than once a year, and any of the offers of help had materialised.

It’s taken only three week-ends to experience the range of interests, backgrounds and characters of people who  are residents or visitors to this town. ‘Star’ rating, a Master Mason. His knowledge, enthusiasm and description of his work provided a delightful hour, he needed a bigger audience. The Mayor of the next town arrived, knew of my research, he was an English teacher – we had an hour on books. He said his son could not work for mental health reasons. Son next. Educated, travelled, good English, so why could he not work? He presented me with a small booklet of his poems. He went round gathering up books and DVD’s, to over 40 euros. But he had to phone Dad, please bring money, presume Dad used to it.

A lady I have known for 30 years, and who, in fact, arranged for my late son to go and help with the grape harvest in Cognac came in, another hour. Her husband is ‘handicapped’, mentally, does not work, no details. She bought my Laura Ashley tea-set – says every time she has a cup of tea she will think of me, nice. The librarian, also known 30 years, encouraged all the lectures Mr G and I gave, bought small pieces of silver – sure she did not need them, wanted a ‘souvenir’. Farmer friends, had so many meals together, went off with a rather nice artificial flower table centre, brilliant contrast to cope with Mr G’s failing eye-sight, they will give it pride of place on their table. I love that, they are not poor, but he won’t spend any money, and the place is dismal.

Best was an English couple. No more books, ever, she said. She picked up one on butterflies, then went off with 10. A Serbian lady arrived at the same time, Tatiana, states furiously NOT Russian. Strangers, they got talking. An hour later they were exchanging e-mail addresses. A French couple, worked internationally, went off with Andy Capp, Gambols and Fred Bassett! The lady helping me, a depressed area, is seen to smile sometimes. On the shelves somewhere are Queen Victoria’s letters. I am, in her immortal words, amused. Now, would anybody like 30 years of Punch? 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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