'There is no more ridiculous custom than the one that makes you express sympathy once and for all on a given day to a person whose sorrow will endure as long as his life. Such grief, felt in such a way is always present, it is never too late to talk about it, never repetitious to mention it again'.
My friend Sue sent me this quote. She also said it might make her want to read A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. The quote I appreciate very much, it’s utterly simple and deeply true. But read Remembrance of Things Past? Seven volumes of a total of 3,031 pages, containing more than 1,267,069 words, and more than 2,000 characters — it's a daunting read; not surprisingly, it is one of the longest novels of all time. Proust is also one of the greatest novelists of all time and this novel is his magnum opus, but starting to read it now? ‘Had we but world enough and time’ (Andrew Marvell’s ‘To his coy Mistress’) comes to mind. So Proust will remain unread by me. I had an idea after reading the quote : why not call the novels ‘Nostalgia’ for short? I thought that was rather clever of me but I don’t suppose many others do. Perhaps it’s someone else’s idea and I just read it somewhere and I’m not really clever?
I helped bury a good friend of ours last Monday by attending his funeral, a man who’s son said of him in his eulogy :”my dad was an intellectual, to the point of possibly being a snob about it.” I like that. I like unashamed elitism, provided you keep it in the family, as it were.
Millie is becoming an ever greater worry. She tumbled down part of the stairs again. The vet said to make her stay downstairs, but how? My friend said to put a suitcase on the bottom step. Millie follows me around wherever I go in the house. She is on steroids now but really, she suffers from old age for which there is no cure. She has gone deaf too. When a vet says ‘it’s a question of quality of life now’ you know what o’clock it is. The other day we went on to the castle bailey where a lot of tourists were admiring the ruins. As she is wont to do, she went to every group for a bit of attention and to say hello and most people cuddled and stroked her. She obviously got confused by the assorted legs and hands, so she just lay down for a bit. I was down the hill by the five bar gate back into the field by now, waiting for her. I called and whistled and created quite a kerfuffle myself but she couldn’t hear me and, in the end, several people led her down the hill towards me. Clambering back up to meet them halfway I hurt my sore knee all over again; I am still limping.
Going to the gym with my sore knee is a bit of a problem too. I can’t put weight on it which means the treadmill and similar machines are out. But the rower and standbikes are fine. As are machines which I hope will reduce my flabby batwing upper arms a bit. I hate showing bare arms, I suppose anybody over fifty does. On the whole, I have quite taken to gym workouts, and Dan, my Fitness Instructor, who has measured my progress, is pleased with me. I have the suspicion that FIs are conditioned to praise all of their guinea pigs, how else are you going to go on jumping through the hoops? We all need to be praised. I genuinely like the gym because the exercise makes me feel good but I still have to force myself to go sometimes. Contrary creatures, we humans.
Old gardener comes two mornings a week at the moment. Because of the long winter and late start of the gardening year everything was delayed; with warmer days having arrived there was a sudden explosion of growth and, almost overnight, bare branches, dead plant stems and bare patches turned green, with weeds mostly. Gardener rests more often than he used to do but he still works very hard for a man of his age. I don’t mind a bit, it gives me a chance to chat. He and his missus seem to be happy in the new house, she even buys plants for the small garden, which is unheard of. They’ll have been married for fifty years in July. Gardener is already grumbling that they’ll be spending money on a tea party for the family and that he will be spending yet more when he takes her out for a celebratory meal. Like many of his background he grumbles about spending money on non-essentials when secretly he is proud that he has it to spend. Or so I read him, anyway.