😏So, my PC decides to upgrade itself; fine, but it could have told me it was going to do that, and then it could have made a nice cup of tea for me and told me of the changes it would make. Add to that the mischief it got up to - great for rising the blood pressure - and the changes that wrought is it any wonder that I'm not at my best and that confusion has set in.
So, here I am, warm in the study with new wood burning log stove burning wood warmly...cuppa to hand, stack of books ready to topple over in a bid to attract my attention [coming darlings, just let Bossy Boots upgrade something else and then we can start] and...Oh! God NO! Sheena Kickthecat is coming up the garden path, trailing various quantities of scarves, of various hues and what looks like a file containing every sheet of paper ever written on, anywhere, at anytime in the world.
Sheena, don't get me wrong, is a lovely woman. She moved into the village about ten years ago, drove Mum mad when she discovered that Mum was a veritable enclycopedia on the history of the village. She would just show up at random times, and, as Mum taught music up to a month before she passed away aged 80 and was a member of everything going on locally and not so local, Mum was usually in a rush out the door. The family joke was you had to make an appointment to see her.
Sheena, darling girl turning 68 next birthday, usually opened conversations with "Now, I know you're probably very busy with your wee students but I just wanted to ask..." Initially it was alright, a bit mystifying with the "wee" bit as Sheena came from Drimnagh originally, and that is not in Bonny Scotland. Sheena worked during the week so she would usually call on Saturday afternoon; and initially Mum was quite happy to tell her the local folklore. But...
Sheena takes copious notes, edits them and then contradicts everyone who has an ancestry greater than 80 years in the village; all contradictions ended with - back then - "...and Mary told me so and she should know!". She once told a neighbour that she felt she could be called the "Jane Marple of the village". He's still howling with laughter. He put his own nickname on her "Biddy Butt" and it took. Refer to her as Sheena and you get a blank look, Biddy Butt and "the look" passes from eye to eye. We'll say nothing about the soft chuckles.
When Mum passed away, Sheena arrived up at the wake. Neither of my two girls had met her before, and I had only seen her in passing [Mum putting the accelerator to the floor and hitting 60+ in 40 mph zones] so she...well I don't quite know whether to say "swanned" or "sauntered" so take your pick, into the house, and proceeded in a leisurely manner to go into all the rooms in the house. Meeting her coming out of what had been my room as a child, Eldest asked her was she lost. Eyeing Eldest up and down she asked her "and who are you then?" which, given how much Eldest adored her Grandmother, was the proverbial red rag to the bull.
An enraged "MAAAAAAAM" hollered down the hall, I came out from the sitting room where Mum was being waked and in a mood to swing anything that came to hand out the door [the Parish Priest having been telling me all about my Mother, me being a total stranger to her it seems, and that he would do the eulogy and not her lifelong pal who knew her better than anyone - besides her only child] and there was Sheena. Smiling politely [alright, so those that know me well would say "smiling like a wolf about to devour a juicy rabbit] I asked her who she was and could I assist her. "I'm Sheena Kickthecat, I was Mary's closest friend and I am looking for her notes on village history". AHA!
At this juncture, I should mention that her surname is Irish and she pronounces it in such a way that ~"Kickthecat"~ is what it sounds like. I still haven't worked it out yet.
"Well, Sheena [safest option] you see Mum never kept notes, all the history and family lineages were in her head. There is a tradition of seanachai in our family and so..." My reward was a huge smile and an inquiring eyebrow raised. "...and you of course will follow in her steps..." a quick glower over her shoulder at Eldest warning her not to say I already do, I replied "no, regrettably I never succeeded in that. I take after the other side of the family". A quick prayer to all deceased ancestors at that point, seanachai comes in from both parents. Eventually, an hour and two cups of tea later both she and the Parish Priest were last seen wandering down the garden path in mutual empathy.
I managed to avoid her until the Village History Festival a couple of years ago, but when a neighbour [a mere 56 years residency] told her that I was the go-to for information, she started haunting me. Eventually, Himself, with retirement on the horizon and a strong dislike for the lady in question, told her in polite language one Saturday afternoon that she should ring before coming up and that he didn't like people just popping in. He said it with a straight face too.
I think it's beginning to wear off, I'll have to set him on her again. Two weeks ago she arrived as I was about go to keep a hospital appointment. I managed to deal civilly with her, but it really has to stop. She has the whole place driven mad, and now that the last of Mum's generation has passed away, there are now only five of us who fill the category of "Old Village". [wherein our families arrived 1865, 1874 and two in 1900 and one in 1917. '65 was a good year for our family].
Needless to remark all five have their own histories off pat, handed down from Mother to daughter, and I have both mine and all of theirs off as well. Useful tool actually, when it comes to living in a small village. When you know the history you'll never fall out with anyone once you keep the facts to yourself. There's no point is starting a feud by coming out with the juicy news that in 1910 X's Grandfather threw a rusty horseshoe at Y's Great Grandmother's herd of goats and scattered them for miles around the area. That must have been some temper he had...
12 January 2017
It was a great Christmas, everyone was in total agreement. We sat around the table taking our ease, chatting and laughing, opening crackers in a desultory manner. The turkey cooked to perfection and all those I love present.
The cat, in a state of shock, was even allowed to sit in front of the fire. Principally because since we got an inset stove I'm not afraid of her usual trick of trying to see what's up the chimney when the flames go up. This new feature in our family room has also removed my long held fear of a spark on the carpet setting the whole place alight.
Believe you me, up at this height when the gales blow, it is a distinct possibility. Since my childhood I can remember occasions when my Mother put out the fire on gale force nights, as she called them, and we felt the cold chill of a winter's night, rather risk a downdraught and it's consequences. The view is glorious...but as with anything you pay a price.
The general topic of conversation, however, on New Year's Eve was, on occasion, rather grim. Neighbours dropped in, an old friend who has moved back to Ireland arrived unexpectedly by very welcome nonetheless, and the right kind of relative, those you know make such an event were with us during the day.
The conversation ranged from changes in the place in the almost nine years since Mum passed away, to how much youngest daughter is enjoying her new job. After three years of seeking work this was truly a gift from Santa, and the smile on her face as she hurries off to work is definitely my best present.
Chief topic of chat was the future. Where will things go from here on a global and national basis. We're Irish. We love talking politics. We love trying to see into the future...we're all convinced we're mystic minded, but with the way the world stage is playing out, this year there were no definitive "we will..." this year; "If God spares us we might..." was more the norm. Even during the Recession when everything went totally pear shaped, we Irish kept the bright side shining as best we could, but this year...well we'll cross everything, pray to God and steer clear of the rocks...and hope that things won't be too bad.
The cat, facing either her 14th, 16th or possibly 15th year has no such worries. OH will continue to feed her as if she was suffering from malnutrition. The rats will continue to sit waiting for her now corpulent form to catch up with them. I think they misjudge the hussy. One found to his cost last night that Madam may be making up for the skinny years with a girth like a beanbag, but she can still cut it with the best.
On the lane two houses have been sold. One of the neighbours was a childhood friend and will be very much missed, the other, well let's just say that the new people are truly friendly and we look forward to seeing their smiling faces for a long time to come.
Mary Mulgrave* bought herself a new car. The other one was 25 years old. No scrappage deal could tempt her to get rid of Horatio as she called her car. She's already a liability on the road. Things go beep she tells us. It's one of "them new fangled gewgydags" and she's been back to the sales man twice to order them taken out. As he explained to her, they keep the car running. Well, her son did warn her that she should have bought second hand. There's a dent on the front wing. That came about because the "whatjacallit" beeped [seat belt alarm to you] and the button she thought was a demister started telling her where to drive..."sure didn't she know the roads better than that gobbledeygook thingummy" she told us.
A very Happy New Year to one and all...I'm off to find a lane Mary can't drive on, and where there is shelter from the gales and Mozart playing in my ears so I can't hear anymore world news!
* Not her real name