'Are the luckiest people in the world' (Barbra Streisand and others).
The photograph is relevant, because it started my deep involvement with people. My father converted his boyhood passion for birds into a business after the war. The exotic specimens were kept in a warm bird-room in the converted loft of our bungalow. The garden was his 'shop window'.
I did a lot of the garden from age 10 or so, and in particular I did the gardens within the aviaries, usually with a bird on my shoulder to encourage me. He also made me, no argument, deal with the customers from an early age – a favourite being Gavin Maxwell ('Ring of Bright Water'). It was his sports car, really, starting another passion with me.
Another was a Captain Clarence – very rich, I think, and an artist – he gave me a pen and ink sketch as a wedding present – when he wrote to my father he always added a sketch for me at the top of the letter – how I wish I'd kept them.
I think they felt sorry for me, Daddy being a noted eccentric and hard task-master – they treated me like a grown up, whilst tipping me for catching birds for them (or showing off the ones I had tamed).
There were many times when I was scared stiff – especially when relationships were difficult. I've just had a 'down in the dumps' lunch party – real reviver, invited and uninvited crowding into my shop. One of the stallholders is 70 today, so he had an extra boost. His wife is part real gypsy, and, I think, illiterate, with a handicapped son – I get a huge lift when she is at home with the mixture 'chez moi'. At a big party a guest said 'You know how to receive'. Very puzzling, never trained, or 'finished', so I presume the hard school with my father paid dividends.
Reading Moodscope, and knowing so many lonely people, I think modern life has a lot to answer for (not Grumpy Old Woman, or wearing rose-coloured glasses). The village community, the local bus, social evenings, even 'borrowing a cup of sugar' brought you into contact with people. You CAN still find the French 'Quartier' even in Paris.
The last few days, as my situation worsened, if somebody asked me how I was, I let fly with a good moan. Really rather ashamed, people don't really want to know how you are. I'd had a lovely visit from son and grand-son, always a bit 'triste' because we all live so far from each other. But how we talked! They went into town and talked, down to the care home and talked – luckily we all have good French.
I am surrounded by disrupted families, ALL the teenagers are sulky (teens not easy for anybody) but they have ALL been uprooted, friends, schools, clubs. It's not a town for young people, will they spend their lives glued to a screen? Or will they find they need people?
A Moodscope member.
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