28 September 2009
I spent most of last week cleaning the house from end to end, prompted by a call from an elderly cousin of my Mothers. I had only met this cousin once nearly 30 years ago when Mum held a sort of hen party of her own prior to my wedding. All relations etc, who were not invited to wedding came to a supper and a good night was had by all, I escaped as soon as possible I remember, the alternative was to fill in a forty page form on the future groom, his prospects, intentions towards me, outlook on life...you get the picture! Edwina, a spinster of her parish, seven years older than Mum and cranky since childhood had been the loudest Torquemada-style Inquisitor at this 'do' and I could see why Mum had as little contact as possible with her. Think of Pride and Prejudice with Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine de Burgh and you get the picture...if you'll pardon the pun.
House now sparkling! she arrived on Friday at 3.30p.m., precisely, and I do mean precisely. Dropped off by another cousin [my vintage] who smiled sweetly at me, said "she's all yours" and fled the scene like a rabbit seeing a very big fox. As soon as I find out what relationship that person is to me, I shall cut her out of the family tree, with vengeance! Sniffing with disdain at all the work OH has carried out, Dweena preceeded me into the house, sweeping down the hall, opening doors as she passed and commenting on each in turn. By the time we reached the kitchen at the back of the house she raised a supercillious eyebrow, and unfortunately for her,not being n possession of a lorgnette, glared at me and said 'awfully small init". Thus did I discover that her words were to be somewhat foreshortened by ill-fitting dentures which cut her words short - but not blurry short enough by halves! It was on the tip of my tongue to tell her that I am in the process of adding an extension with new enlarged kitchen when I thought rebelliously "hell no, no business of hers".
Fortunately, I had remembered that this particular cousin was snob personified so THE VERY BEST CHINA was out, the sandwiches wafer thin and the cakes and biscuits displayed to perfection. I offered her tea or coffee, glaring at me she said "Don't drink coffee, foul brew, never had time f'rit, I'll have tea. Earl Grey." This last thrown at me with a smirk that clearly said "gotcha on the hop now". I said nothing, left her to snoop...'er I mean her own devices and headed for the kitchen, returning with a carefully laden tray with the necessities.
Taking a disdainful sniff of the tea she exclaimed with some surprise "It's Earl Grey". "Well, that's what you asked for isn't it Dweena?" I replied. Score 1-0 to me. The afternoon stretched into early evening. Around six thirty I asked her, having exhausted all lines of conversation by this time, what time would Delia be collecting her at. "Collecting me?" eyebrows raised and glare fully centred on my forehead she replied. "I've come to stay for the night, I told you that earlier when I spoke to you on the telephone". I must be going deaf. "First I've heard of it, and I hadn't prepared a room for you, only having two bedrooms at present and OH and I sharing one of those. "Well, [simmering lower lip] it's awful to be my age, nobody seems to want you anymore..." Ye Gods! sneaky Delia had really landed me in it, and imagine, I had never met her before. Crafty b-b-b-b-b-rat!
I rang ED, told her that her visit that evening was either cancelled or she was on the put-u-up and prayed that she would decide to come and help me entertain Edna May! Bless the girls heart, she did. The bed was soon made up, suitable night attire found for Dweena and the long, slow progression towards bedtime began. Dinner, chicken soup followed by roast chicken [God bless Knorr] Kerr Pinks and mixed veg, followed by Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream seemed to calm the visitor, mind you by the time she had commented that she wouldn't cook this, that or the other this that or the other way she was lucky that she wasn't served her head in a weak batter and flambéd!
I had elicited Delia's address during the course of dinner, and phone number. After a breakfast of tea [I won approval for this being Bewleys Irish Breakfast Tea] boiled egg [6 minutes precisely] and toast [pale gold dear and don't spare the marmalade] I rang Delia. Adopting as sweet a tone as I could [while feeling like tearing her throat off down the phoneline] I asked her what time she would be collecting Lady Dweena at...to this she replied that she wouldn't be able to collect her until around sixish, she was working in the garden all morning and would then be doing her grocery shopping. "Fair enough" I said, bid her good morning and hung up. After a post-breakfast stroll around the garden I started to steer Dweena towards my car. We weren't out of the woods yet, she was becoming enchanted she told me, she thought she might stay for the week end. No comment! Two hours later we pulled up outside Delia's house in Dunshaughlin. "what lovely surprise for her" said Dweena, "wasn't it good of IE to run her home and what a lovely time she had had!". What a pretty picture Delia's face was.
Lessons learned. Delia's phone number is now on my caller ID, next time OH want's to go and visit his Mum using my car because his is in for a service he can wait and see if the coast is clear!
Rewards for such suffering come in delightful ways though. Yesterday morning after Breakfast I was enjoying a lazy second cup of tea and browsing through the Sunday papers when my eye was caught by a young dog fox, dark black patches on the back of his ears, black ring around his brush and a tiny white tip. This years cub, learning his new territory. He quartered the lawn for juicy tidbits, ignored the 7 magpies sitting in a circle around him and generally made himself familiar with the garden, disappearing from view now and again while he rambled around the other side of the house; he reappeared on the lawn again and proceeded to chase his tail, the magpies, if they could have folded their wings in front, merely stood back and laughed raucously at him. Two robins decided to dive bomb him, clearly of the opinion that two robins good, seven magpies useless...Reynard ignored the lot of them, after sitting flat out, stomach to the ground, chin lying compass like facing east for ten minutes he got up and slowly trotted off down the garden, over the wall and away with him. I shall be keeping an eye out for this handsome chap. I hope he becomes a regular daytime visitor.