Dear Lonnie,

Friday, 30 December 2011

I'd never claim all my friends are beautiful - in fact, Joanie is downright ugly, if I must be blunt. Poor pet - don't ever tell her I said that. And you know that my thesis is that you don't really notice a woman is ugly if she wears make-up and the right clothes. Which she doesn't, by the way. The girl is stubborn as a mule, quite apart from looking like one. I love her dearly, of course.

But I was downright frightened when I came across this photo. How can people look like this? How does it happen? Is it a terrible disease? An accident, in which the couple were both involved? How distressing this must be for those close to them...

Oh wait. This didn't quite work. Let me blow up the main offending part of this picture...

Well, that's all, for now. I really needed to let you know. It's the biggest thing that's happened to me all day. I won't sleep, tonight.

Dear Joanie,

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Got lost, this morning. Burke’s fault, for pointing out to me that I’ve gained two pounds since last year. I was horrified, and decided to walk to the village in the morning, instead of going by car.
First time I’ve ever done that – it’s only a few hundred meters, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me which path to take, and which one not to, amid all those wretched vineyards here in the Bordeaux area.
Reminds me of a time in Russia with Peter. We’d had another thunderous fight, you know how temperamental he was, and I resolved to walk off by myself – let him stew a little. Like meat, men get tenderer and more palatable when left in the pan for longish whiles. This was in the swamp lands south of Suzdal. Suzdal is a touristy spot, but guess what? The swamp lands under Suzdal are not, as it turned out!
And of course the Russian peasants living there didn’t speak one word of English, so it was all rather disastrous. I believe I’ve been walking round and round, in the scorching sun, for five hours. Very bad for the complexion. I came back so exhausted and unnerved that the wholesome effects of stewing were completely lost. Peter lay perfectly happily zapping Russian television in our hotel room. You can imagine how furious I was.
Lots of mosquitoes, at the moment. And they always go for the better quality of blood, don’t they? Pulled the sheets completely off of Burke, last night, as he slept on his stomach, his bare back forming the perfect landing area. And still those wretched creatures went after me. Isn’t it always like that?

Dear Joanie,

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I’m thinking that what I really need is a widower. Burke is wonderful, of course, but he’s a serial divorcer, and though I don’t think for a moment he would want to ditch me (one has to be modest, but what man in his right mind has ever ditched me?), it makes for a difficult experience.
They get so contentious, don’t they. Divorcés, I mean.  The widower, on the other hand, is saddened by his loss, humbled by fate as it were, and eternally grateful to find a new mother for his children. Even if his children are 45, as Jason’s were, when he so forcefully pursued me. The widower knows the value of life and of love, and doesn’t want to waste another minute arguing. Which, preferably, results in him agreeing with me in most things. Or at least a damn sight more often than Burke does. 
If you think of it, Burke, through his many combative marriages, has been trained to fight. And he has been trained by one of the best in the field – I am speaking of Alice, of course. So his neurons are lined up to get argumentative and heated at the drop of a hat. Which means I have to be the mature party, and though as you know I pride myself on being very tolerant and wise, in spite of my precocious age (“old as a sequoia, young as a fawn”, I once wrote in a poem about myself), it takes a toll on my nerves to be the adult. If I wanted children, I’d have them the ordinary way, you see what I mean?
If divorcés are hardened combatants, Burke is a Green Beret. He ambushes, he snipes, he carpet bombs. I am getting severely fatigued from being the adult. Perhaps I should encourage him to take up a hobby. Like Thai boxing or oil wrestling, what do you think?

Dear Dottie,

Saturday, 27 August 2011

My tennis playing days are definitively over. Went to the club last night with dr. Veltman – not that he plays, of course. Dr. Veltman has never touched a ball in his life.
Oh, untrue – he informs me that he played soft ball in grammar school, as an unfit 15 year old. He was awful at it, but did once score a homerun. There was strangely little opposition, he noticed, as he ran his round of glory around the bases. When he arrived, triumphantly, at home base, he saw a group of people standing around something. They turned angrily to him. In their midst lay, on the ground, a girl. Turned out that after he had struck the ball – in itself a most unexpected event – and thrown the bat away to start his run, the bat had hit a classmate in the head. She was unconscious. He doesn’t know what became of her.
At the club, dr. Veltman drinks wine and smokes small cigars, staring at the players in an off-putting way. Now and then he shakes his head slowly and sadly, which can put less confident tennis players right off their service..
I happened to watch a women’s game (no men playing, or I wouldn’t have, of course) and it was not pretty. These women have no sense of dress or dignity. A huge girl, fairly young, carried frightening amounts of fat on her stomach. As I’ve always said: all women should watch their figure, but tall girls should subside on dry salt crackers entirely. If there’s too much of you on one axis, you can’t afford branching out on another axis.
Not only was this girl huge, she wore her t shirt tucked into her shorts. I wouldn’t have dreamed of showing up in anything but a stylish tailor made skirt, in my day – mind you, nothing so extravagant as these Williams girls wear on the tour. Flashy and vulgar. But shorts on a woman are just horrifying. This girl’s looked to be made of nylon, and very tightly followed her giant thighs. 
And as she stood there, labouring away at her service, sweat glistening on that big forehead, I realized at once that I can never play again. How could I try to beat such a girl, whose day depends on a win in these silly club championships? She has nothing else in her life!
I know I’m famous for saying plain girls have it easy, and on the whole that is true – any moderately confident plain girl has the world as her oyster. But there are of course limits as to how far you can push being plain. And she pushed the envelope. I would have been unable to muster the will to beat this girl. As I’d look at that desperate, red face, and the large, awkward, labouring body, I would have been frightened lest the last bit of light would depart from those lifeless, tragic eyes.
So I shall play no more. Oh, a little mixed double now and then, purely for recreational purposes – but no competition. Truly, if I weren’t so soft hearted, I would probably have been a formidable player. I have fabulous technique, my teacher always told me (and not only at tennis, he said, but that’s another subject.) I suppose I might have made it to Wimbledon.
Bought a book called “Controlling People” by Patricia Evans. What do you think – there’s no instructions in it, whatever! False advertising I call that. I will toss it into the bin.

Dear Joanie,

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Burke may have had a little point about cleaning surfaces. But only for high gloss paints. With latex, you can successfully clean every surface with your paint brush, and you never have to touch water and detergent again. But today I painted over a door, and I must say, high gloss paint does not take at all, on greasy surfaces. A bit of a disappointment.
And a little warning: directly after painting a door, open that door. Because if you paint over locks and hinges, you may never have the chance, again.

Dear Candace,

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Did you know you can not only wash, but sculpt, with a paint brush?
I don’t know why working people always make such a Big Fuss about menial labour. Yes, it is tiring, and should not be done for long spells on end. But it can be quite riveting. It’s all in one’s attitude, I always say.
I’ve learned a few things, along the line. Of course Burke keeps admonishing me about cleaning surfaces first, before you paint on them, and then adding anti-mold layers and primer and all that nonsense.
Well, between you and me, none of that is necessary! You can paint right over the filth. At first, I gingerly covered only very small specks of crummy matter, but as I went along, my confidence grew, and ultimately I ‘washed’ entire doors and wall panelings.
It’s so easy! Oh, how they keep telling one it can’t be done – that the surface must be cleaned.Pfff! And nobody ever tells you why, do they? It’s just a dogma. Like socialism and communism. And they hold to it so religiously! Well, it’s poppycock. You can paint right over anything, provided it doesn’t stick out too much, and if it’s something still wet or moist, you’ve got to watch out in case you accidentally ‘paint’ other areas with that very stuff – which has happened to me, and set me back half an hour, as I had to wait for it to dry and then apply some more paint.
Sculpting: same thing. Any cracks in the wall, or between the door and the wall, can be filled if you apply the paint very generously, and set to work with confidence. You must make bold strokes, or it won’t work. It really is a confidence game, painting one’s house.
My hallway looks like new. Now I just need to get Burke up the ladder to do the higher bits. He has a fear of heights, so I’ll have to be forceful.
Do come over and see my work, soon!

Dear Joanie,

Friday, 12 August 2011

I gave up on the bedroom windows, after my little mishap yesterday. Painting, I decided, was going to be much more fun.
The wall across from my bed looked grey and filthy, so I thought I’d paint it a merry blue. Burke told me I should first clean the wall, then apply an anti-mold layer, then an undercoat, and then finally the merry blue paint. I tried it, on about 1 square foot, and it was awful. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. So I simply painted one layer, didn’t bother to clean the wall, then decided the radiator would also look prettier if you couldn’t see the dirt on it, so I painted over the dirt, and by God it looks great. Turns out you don’t need special radiator paint, at all!
As for the wall, I can positively say now that cleaning it first, let alone all the mold and undercoat nonsense, is utterly unnecessary, and only done by people who like to punish themselves. I just removed some spider webs with my hand, and brushed off a little soot here and there. Didactually fill little holes in the wall with some stuff from a tube, which one is supposed to leave drying for hours – nonsense, again, you can paint over it within a few minutes.
But even without all the masochistic primer and mold and other obsessive-compulsive stuff, it was exhausting. I broke out in a most unpleasant sweat, and you know how I always pride myself on never sweating.
I suppose I will call this my Year of Living Rough, and write a book about it, later. I do think I am reaching interesting insights, that others could benefit from. But how long will I be able to go on like this? I am very fond of Burke, but I’m slowly losing the will to live.

Dear Joanie,

Thursday, 11 August 2011

I’m just not made for household work. Oh, what a curse it is to be with a fascinating and highly attractive, but penniless man. Not sure I’ll ever go that road again.
It is a tribulation, this cleaning. I decided to do some work around the bedroom, because Burke complained about “inches of dust” and dirty windows. I thought I might clean the window sills and who knows, if I had time, maybe the windows. So I got a big bucket from the garden, which I had once planned to grow plants in. These buckets seem to deteriorate with time, don’t they. It was strangely filthy, with a kind of disgusting grey jelly both on the outside and the inside. Dozens of woodlice sped off as I lifted the bucket, afraid lest the sunlight might turn them into something pretty.
I cleaned the inside, almost gagging, and then filled it up to its rim with hot water – I don’t like to bend down too much to reach in, when I start the actual work. That is such a drag. It was still disgusting on the outside, so I put it on the kitchen counter for further cleaning, balancing it precariously on the narrow ledge next to the sink.
They say everything happens for a reason, but I cannot fathom why that bucket had to fall down. Even as it went to to the ground, seemingly in slow-motion, I was in denial. I remember very clearly thinking, and meaning it: “This is not happening.” But it was, apparently.
I sat on my couch for a while, then a longer while. Ultimately I resigned myself to the fact that the filthy flood had to be dealt with. So I got a few tea towels, which weren’t remotely enough, then decided to use t shirts that were dusty anyway, and which I  decided on the spot I’d probably never wear again. I tossed the shirts on the floor at regular intervals, and hoped they would soak up the sea of slush.
Then, I head Burke at the door. I quickly gathered together the t shirts and tried to look heavily involved. “Just mopping the floor!” I said in happy sing-song tones, when he came in. He looked so happy. “That’s my girl. You’re really making headway, aren’t you?” Burke likes it when I apply myself; he’s old-fashioned, that way.
I didn’t tell him I’d actually made zero headway, apart from mopping the floor with filthy slick. It will only show once the moisture dries completely.

Dear Helen,

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Took dr. Veltman with me to the famous Bronovo hospital in The Hague, where they treat the Queen. When she is ill, that is – otherwise not.
Aunt Eunice was in there for some vague complaint – one of the countless things she always seems to have wrong with her. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. I think it’s simply an excuse to make me come visit her. And dr. Veltman jumps at the chance to drive me there, so we can spend some time together. Looks like he’s getting a little tired of the Floozy, already – not that I’m surprised.
I won’t repeat Eunice’s conversation to you as it is so dull, and usually centers on either teapot cleaning or unsavoury physical ailments. What was it this time? Kidneys not functioning or something, I’m sure there’s a technical term for it. She seemed perfectly fine to me. Pale and thin, I suppose, but she always is. Never eats much; not much use worrying about her figure at her age, but some women are irredeemably vain, aren’t they. Wouldn’t be surprised if she goes to these teenage anorexia sites, where they learn how to get through life on three bread crumbs a day.
Enough about Eunice. Dr. Veltman was very trying, the entire afternoon. He gets nervous and hectic, when he can’t smoke, even for 15 minutes. The low point came just after our tedious visit with Eunice, when he insisted on helping a sick gentleman in a wheelchair into the elevator. The elderly gentleman – not much more elderly than dr. Veltman, by the way – protested loudly, but it’s as if he doesn’t hear things, isn’t it. He just pushed the fellow into the elevator, until the poor old thing positively shrieked in dismay. No wonder – his IV on wheels was still outside. The elevator doors closed on the IV line, but before gentleman and IV were separated by gentleman going down and IV staying on the third floor, a helpful passer-by managed to open the doors, and save the situation. The patient was quite upset.
Most exhausting. No attractive physicians around, by the way. Might as well not have spent 1.5 hours doing my make-up. I thought the Bronovo was the best, but by God I’ve seen better looking doctors even in that horrid poor man’s hospital Lucas-Andreas in Amsterdam. So, darling, I suppose I’d say, in summary – there’s little joy in falling ill, these days. Perhaps I should eat healthy food, after all.

Dear Joanie,

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Remind me never to set my high heels in a health food store, again.

These places don’t agree with me anyway. I suppose Candace is right and one should eat vegetables and wheat grass and sea urchins and fermented horse spittle, but so long as these things aren’t sold in luxury shops I think I’d rather die young.

However, just to humor her (she’s coming over and will not eat anything less ‘sensible’) I dropped in to the Lotus Health Food Store to get her profiterolles made out of old newspapers, or something very much like that.

A lad of perhaps 16 years of age stood in my way, in the middle of the aisle I was traversing, in the way that irritates one tremendously if it’s a woman, and makes one tenderly forgiving if it’s a young male. I gently put my hand on his shoulder, almost caressing it. You know how I like to be kind. I bent over to him and whispered in his ear “My dear, would you mind awfully…-” when suddenly I noticed… it wasn’t a lad at all! It was a middle aged woman with closely cropped hair, military style. I withdrew my hand as if it was on fire, completely flustered and disgusted.

How could such a thing happen? How could my natural instincts, otherwise so robust, have let me down? I felt dirty and shamed. It’s a bit like the times (happened on two occasions!) I patted a little child on the head only to be faced by an angry dwarf turning around and glaring at me. But those times, there were no sexual overtones and an immediate crisis of gender identity.

I mean, do consider – I have never touched a woman as tenderly as I did this one, and never would in a million years. When a woman stands in my way in a shop aisle, I don’t touch her at all, or if I do, it’s to push her out of the way. I can’t stand ill-mannered women with no perception of where their bodies are located in space, and deal with them accordingly. I think that’s only fair.

And it’s been such a dreary day, already…It’s raining, and Aunt Eunice had to share with me that she cleans her teapot by leaving denture tablets in it overnight.

There really is no hope for humankind, is there?



Dear Andrea,

Friday, 22 July 2011

My dear, I know it’s a sensitive subject, but if I am to help you, I must speak bluntly.
Here is the answer: if you want Herbert’s libido to go down a notch or two, all you have to do is demand sex with unerring regularity.
I know this can be difficult at first, especially if one has lost the appetite for one’s mate years ago, but if you stick with it, bite the bullet so to speak, it will work. At first he will be entirely delighted, and you will have a tough time, but sooner than you’d expect, he will lose his interest, until, finally, impotence sets in.
Yes, my dear, it is that simple. It is a well known fact to anyone even slightly experienced in matters of love, that when one partner moves away, sexually, the other moves ever closer. And vice versa. It may take months, but it will happen. Roll away with an irritated snarl when he tries to put his hands on you, and he will become nothing short of sexually obsessed. Touch him constantly, leer at him,  demand sex in a whiny way, and within no time you will be the captain of your marital bed. Or, if you keep this régime up, of your lits jumeaux. 
I used to have such troubles with impotent men. Simply because I enjoy a healthy appetite. With poor Raoul it got to the point where I demanded he would seek a cure, or we would break up. As he couldn’t bear the thought of living without me, he agreed to let me take him to a clinic in Baden-Baden, Germany. A Kurort with healthy air and hot water spa, and some very strict nurses. I would take strolls with him through the clinic park, he dressed in a bath robe, looking pale, me in normal attire being patient and supportive. It didn’t help, of course. How young and naïve I was.

Raoul and I broke up, but several relationships later I found the Cure. When Andrew (you remember him, the London cardiologist) started to wear those absurd boxer-briefs, my desire for him cooled “like lust in the chill grave”, as Emerson has it. I could hardly bear to look at him, let alone touch him, in that hideous underwear (Andrew I mean, not Emerson). Although at the time I didn’t mean it as an antidote, after 3 months he was completely cured of his impotence. Unfortunately, I no longer wanted him to be. I suppose I might have if he had returned to more appealing underwear, but the relationship had become a little oppressive to me anyway, so we parted ways.
I wish I could get the Nobel Prize for my impotence cure, as I deserve to. But there is little justice in this world, so I expect nothing from Sweden.
Hope this helps!

Dear Katie,

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Since you have a love of antiques, I thought this little story might interest you.
Ran into Willem, the antiques dealer here in town, when both walking our dogs. He has a huge crush on me of course, and that normally predisposes me favorably towards a person, as at least it demonstrates some good sense, or taste. But when he speaks, saliva doesn’t just fly in all directions, but positively dribbles down his chin. Which, at his age, I find rather absurd. (He’s in his thirties.)
And when a man crosses a certain line of unattractiveness, his crush no longer counts as a tribute, but becomes something of an insult. Don’t you rather agree?
That is the point where good taste may still be intact, but good sense is completely out the window. It’s as if I were to throw myself on the Dalai Lama, say – one should grasp that one doesn’t stand a chance in the world. It’s simply bad manners to maintain a crush on a person so far out of your league.
Me, I mean, out of Willem’s league – I give myself a fairly good chance of seducing the Dalai Lama, should I wish to do so. Granted, the poor pet lives a celibate life, but he wouldn’t be the first man I’ve come across who had to give up that lofty principle after running into me. In fact I’m only a couple of steps removed from knowing him personally, through Eunice and then dr Herissot the famous back doctor. (The Dalai has a hernia, probably related to meditating too much.) I don’t believe I’m being all that fanciful, thinking I could seduce the old dear. After all, if anyone can do it, it’s me. You know – I have half a mind to, just for the fun of it!
Anyway…where was I?
Oh, I wanted to tell you about Saliva Willem’s absurd dog theories. People will have their own firmly held dog theories, won’t they? He thinks it’s a big strategic error that I allow Barnaby to sleep on my bed, because that makes Barn the Pack Leader, and apparently this exposes me to all sorts of grave dangers. What a lark.
His dog, he proudly said, obeys him and ‘knows his place’. He looked very manly and firm, saying that – spitting and dribbling away, which rather ruined the effect. Well hurrah. As George is a mini-poodle, I’m not terribly in awe.
It’s really only the silliest of men who bring up all that Pack Leader nonsense, isn’t it? Well, except for Cesar Millan, I suppose. I rather like him. If he weren’t so inexcusably short, I might really like him. For a few nights, at most, that is.
We’ll talk antiques some more later,
much love, say hello to Robbie from me,

Dear Helen,

Monday, 11 July 2011

Polygamy is all the rage these days, isn’t it?

Why are there so many shows about Mormon families on TV? What is the appeal? 
You must think me old fashioned. I don’t see the point in polygamy. In fact, if I project the whole nutty idea onto myself, it makes me just a little nauseated. Imagine having 3 or 4 husbands! It would drive me insane, darling. I have enough men around me, why would I want them in the house, too? And what if they wanted to have children, like those Mormons always seem to? Can you imagine it – me pregnant all year round, ending up with 15 children?
No, I’m afraid the idea of polygamy is just silly. Thank goodness the law doesn’t allow it. I fail to see see why women would want it – if you feel like a little variety, you can always have another lover, can’t you? But the decent thing to do is to keep your lovers relatively secret from your husband, so it won’t hurt his feelings. That is simply the etiquette, in matters of love. Young people don’t learn that, anymore.
I suppose I decided to open up my letters to the public on just that premise – that the populace at large, and the young crowd especially, needs to be taught proper etiquette in the carnal sphere. Young people are only taught nonsense, these days. I suppose I should go to schools and give inspiring talks. Maybe I will, one day.

Dear Helen,

Gosh, I didn’t know you would take this subject to heart so. I’m sure that “Sister Wives” is a lovely TV Show. But really, dear…
For your sake, I watched a 10 minute fragment. It appalled me. You know that I cannot quite understand why a woman would make do with one man, her entire life. One quarter of one man seems downright absurd, to me. 
Secondly, the women in Sister Wives are appallingly unattractive. This show is hardly an advertisement for polygamy. Wouldn’t any sensible man run away fast, if he saw what was in store for him? Four dowdy girls, and 16 children to support!

Having more partners is only fun if you see them now and then, believe me. You can keep maybe one permanently, to have someone around if you’re the sort that doesn’t like to sleep alone.  And the rest you collect for fun. With the understanding that you can exchange them for new ones the moment you grow tired of them. 
I’m sorry, but I feel I have to speak this bluntly to you. I can just see you running off to be the 5th wife of that silly Mormon, and the next thing I know, I sit here watching you in that embarrassing reality soap. It would mortify me.

Dear Ellen,

Friday, 8 July 2011

I bought another Jesus Rubber Duck, today.
I’ve already posted a raving review on Amazon, but as I know you’re too lazy to move your fingers and surf on over there, let me quote it for you:
My Jesus Rubber Duck arrived this morning, in excellent condition. It looks very much like the real, historical model, except for the backside which is avian, but there is some poetic accuracy in that, as Jesus walked on water. This celebriduck floats nicely.
To my great happiness, I found out that my dog loves Jesus. He could hardly wait till I took Jesus out of His box, and started tugging at Him violently. I had to fill in, for this review, “How would you rate this toy’s educational value?” I gave it 4 stars, because when I say “Fetch Jesus!” my dog immediately fetches Him, and after he has been chewing on Him peacefully all morning, I feel that my dog is somehow calmer, and happier, and somewhat more serious.
Perhaps an idea for your little Timmy, too?
Let me know and I’ll buy a Jesus for him, Rottweiler sized.

Dear Joanie,

Sorry, darling, I was a little grumpy, yesterday. And Dr. Veltman says his sansevieria are not plastic, although the difference is hard to spot. What he likes about them is that these plants actually die when you water them. Which makes them better than the plastic plants he used to own, which deteriorated from the water he sometimes poured on them, erroneously. He likes to get the cheapest of plastics.
Well, I hope that sets the record straight…
He’s been quite a handful, lately.

Dear Joanie,

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Dr. Veltman being difficult, today. I suppose he’s talked with Burke, because he felt it necessary to opine that my house was ‘messy’.
Unlike Burke he doesn’t imply any criticism, however. “Makes my own flat look like a show room for design furniture!” he cackled.
That’s rich – his dirty old flat is done up in purple walls, left over from the seventies and never repainted, fake skye couches in a particularly nasty yellow, plastic lamps and plastic plants. Oh, and of course he missed out on all the renovation rounds since those same seventies – with the excuse that he was ‘on vacation’, whenever the owner did up the other flats in the building. 
I notice that Dr. Veltman has become very pleased with himself since having this new girlfriend, the Floozy as I like to call her. Well, it was about time he lost some of that pathological adoration for me. On the other hand, he suddenly “doesn’t have time” to do my administration.
That’s because the Floozy insists on taking him to the theatre and concerts and openings and God knows what. She’s well into her 70′s. Can’t she find a hobby like knitting, or baby-sitting someone’s grandchildren, rather than distract dr. Veltman from the odd jobs he does for me?
Of course we all want him to be happy, that’s not the point.

Dear Joanie,

Monday, 4 July 2011

I shouldn’t be watching television! You keep warning me, I know…I’m far too sensitive to be witness to all the misery in the world…Some of the images remain forever etched on my retina. Do you know it gives me veritable Post Traumatic Stress? Complete with flashbacks and sweaty nightmares! It is hard to be a High Sensitive.

For instance, today, there was a documentary about ‘hygiene in various countries’.  Darling, so awful!  The first segment was from Kenia, where happy tribe members (Masai? Tall gals and guys – almost as tall as the Dutch!) merrily demonstrated squatting behind leafless bushes to dispense with their ‘bodily excreta’. (They used a different term.) 
If you think that was the worst – not even remotely! These were cheerful people, and the surroundings were rather jolly – although one did cringe on hearing how they clean themselves with a stone, the entire scene didn’t depress to the point of suicidal impulses.
Bulgaria was another matter. An old lady, living rurally, shared with the viewer her dilapidated little shack of an outhouse. There was, of course, the dread hole in the floor – grim memory of my childhood. Vacations to France that always ended in tears when, inevitably, Daddy insisted upon my using the loo in some road side café. Alas, I never managed to bring it off without soaking my trousers. I think it was these ‘sessions’ (rather the wrong word!) that made me feel, for the first time, that life could be a truly inhumane place.
But the holes in the floor of French road side café’s were, at least, cleaned once a week, or once a month. The Bulgarian lady did not reveal how often her outhouse was scrubbed, if ever, but it certainly hadn’t happened in at least a year. Swill of a mixed brown-grey hue in bewilderingly thick layers was spread out evenly over the concrete floor, seeping slowly, like  lava, into the repugnant hole. It was disgusting beyond words. Since nothing in and around the miserable little hut was remotely clean or fresh, I can only assume that people walked the shit right into the house without a second thought. Excuse me for using so crude a word, dear.
Thirdly, we were introduced to a gentleman in Shanghai, who is privileged enough to live right next to a public latrine. Many people, he said, do not have a loo. Instead they use a bucket, and this bucket they empty noisily, without concern for spillage, into the small public loo. The stench, this hardy Shanghai gentleman owned, was overwhelming.
I thought my life was difficult, these days, and poverty-stricken. I have only small houses, in various countries, some rented, and they do not please me much. But they all contain a water closet, or washroom as my American friends so unforgivably euphemistically call it. Suddenly, my poverty seems almost inconsequential. You know, darling, I do believe there are people who are worse off, in the world, than myself. This is a bit of a revelation to me, as I’ve never considered myself to have been very lucky - not that I’d ever complain. God knows I have enough problems, sharing my life with the impossible Burke, and dealing with penury.
But when I think about it, I really don’t imagine I would do well in rural Bulgaria. And I doubt I would find enough friends who appreciate my kind of wit and personality.
Oh, darling, what nonsense! I can be so silly, sometimes – these are just foolish, self-defeating thoughts…There, I’ve forgotten them already!
Many smiley emoticons,
love always,

Dear Helen,

Thursday, 30 June 2011

What is the matter with that silly rag Cosmopolitan? Ostensibly written for women – but the staff have to be men, or they wouldn’t exhibit such absurd notions about what turns a woman on.

I was just flipping through “The Twenty Hottest Guys of 2010.” Now, the issue may be a year old, and as we all know – a man who is hot in one year may be entirely withered the next. The years twenty-three to twenty-four are crucial, in that respect – that is when the six pack abs wilt into a beginning beer belly, the hair line starts to recede ever so imperceptibly, and something so intangible as the flower of his youth seems to fade.

But, of course, not even in 2010 was Cory Monteith hot, or Daniel Radcliffe, or, God help us all, Prince William of England. These poor lads are too young for me, anyway. I have an unfortunate penchant for older men with personality disorders – which doesn’t mean I don’t like the young, but only for their physical qualities. When these are absent, the situation is hopeless.

And, good Lord – Matthew Morrison? Russell Brand?

No healthy woman would display such questionable taste. I’m not fooled by the writer’s comments “God, what a smokin’ cast!” and “wouldn’t you die to be that [his] girl?” And what about this? “Early in his career, a casting team told his agent that Bradley wasn’t “f**kable.” We’d be more than willing to prove them wrong.”

Now I’m certain Cosmo is written by men. Always thought Bradley Cooper could be a boy’s boy…

It was Joanie who sent these Cosmo’s to me – that girl has no sense, sometimes. If she has to fill her days with reading cheap rags, at least let it be something female-oriented.



Dear Julie,

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

I don't have a lot of time, but in my spare moments I sometimes glance at Wimbledon. Can you believe the BBC? They're showing the entire Murray match, while ignoring Nadal's quarter-final! This shows unbelievable contempt for their female viewers.

Can't believe Murray is allowed on the courts, anyway - hideous body hair in the wrong places (on his throat!), untanned, unpretty...I thought tennis was a spectator sport!



Dear Marcia,

Oh, the ravages of aging! Was watching a little tennis, today (I try to watch Wimbledon when I have a little time to myself), and saw a face I recognized at court side. It took me fully 5 seconds to realize who it was. How awful is aging, if it makes one unable to tell Ann Jones from Bjorn Borg!

Incidentally, the same was always true of Golda Meir and Lyndon Johnson, in their middle aged years. It was impossible to tell those two apart, for anybody but their very nearest and dearest.



Dear Helen,

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Thank God Nadal won, today.
He had a slight injury, in the first set, and stretched his magnificent legs out for the trainer. As a result, one could study these legs up close. (A purely aesthetic pleasure for me, of course.)
The atrocity about tennis has been, since many years, the change from normal short shorts (as God meant them to be) to the hideous baggy things the boys drape over their rectus femoris and gracilis muscles, these days. (No, dear, the ‘rectus’ in rectus femoris has nothing to do with what you’re thinking.)
Aren’t the sponsors worried about losing the female audience?
But you know how I always recover from the disappointments in my life. Especially when that splendid specimen of a Spaniard arrived on the scene – excuse the alliteration. What a thoroughly deserving physique! You know how I am normally a leg woman, and his are simply commendable. I’m also, to some extent, a chest woman – and I will go on the record as saying that Rafi’s chest, revealed when he changes into a clean t-shirt, is entirely beyond reproach.
Just the right amount of hair – too little chest hair induces sadness in me, as you know – but too much of it can put one entirely off one’s feed. Remember Sam Gotthardt? Daniel went to Greece with him, last year. They shared a hotel room, and when Sam undressed, Daniel found himself thinking: “Could evolution be true, after all?”
Our descent from apes  (oh goodness, wouldn’t Faber scream at me – “there’s only a common ancestor”; but I don’t care much for such academic distinctions), our descent from apes, I say, should not be too obvious in a man. Don’t you rather agree? It’s been proven, incidentally, that we have on average 4% of Neanderthal blood in our veins. Averages don’t mean much – I’m quite sure I have none, and that some people are close to 99%. I won’t mention names – but don’t you think it’s time to trade Scott in for a newer model, dear?
Anyway, Helen – Burke is genuinely worried I will try to get a date with Nadal. I suppose the dear man still thinks of me as 23 – isn’t that lovely? Mind you, I could still beat that young Spanish girl of Nadal’s, hands down. But I prefer not to.
I adore boys. But the truth of the matter is, and don’t ever tell Burke, that I can fall, emotionally, only for older men with personality disorders. And these days, I’m just not so sure that I feel like having sex without ‘feelings’. Well – now and then, of course, but not on a daily basis.
Incidentally – I haven’t yet cheated on Burke. What is the appropriate time, in a relationship, when one should start thinking about doing that? I always feel it’s rather de rigueur to observe a certain period of exclusivity, a little time set aside for one’s mate, only. But at 8 months into this thing, I’m getting a little jumpy…

Dear Emma,

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Back from France! A brief thrill of excitement as I made ready for Amsterdam in my Paris-bought outfit, and then the inevitable disappointment and tedium of Dutch Social Life. Party in the famous Schreierstoren, a 15th century tower overlooking Amsterdam harbor and the Central Station – very poor service, as one is used to in Amsterdam, rain (also used to in Amsterdam) and, at dr. Veltman’s party: old people practically disintegrating into their constituent parts, increasingly many of which are made out of durable plastics.
Did give me a chance to see Donald S., former ambassador to Albania, who as you know has had his eye on me for many years. Have you seen him around at all, lately? His conversation centers primarily around the visual arts, and culture in general, which is painfully boring - but I do rather like him, mostly at the moments I am able to interrupt him and talk about myself. So much more rewarding, as a subject.
I was glad to see him looking so good, and not at all surprised that his crush on me hasn’t abated since my torrid affair with Burke (now so much less torrid.) It’s not exactly that he’s one of those men who desire one the more hotly if one is ‘romantically attached’, as the horrible cliché goes (there isn’t all that much of romance anymore between Burke and me, after eight months), but he simply does not view relationships or marriages as legitimate obstacles to his sexual feeding frenzy. He’s been married to Marjory for positively decades,  but the two of them don’t live in the same country. In fact, as he likes to say, enjoying his wine and his popularity amid a small group of devotees at social do’s: “No wonder marriages fail. People insist on being in the same country. I wouldn’t even want to share the same continent with Marjory!”
So he shoots off on a plane to her a few times per year, never mind the hours it takes him to get to Belize. Did you know, by the way, that Belize is one of the most dreadful places to live in the world? According to a survey into World Happiness, anyway. Supposed to be at or near the absolute bottom. I suppose it’s a matter of personal taste? Marjory is apparently perfectly happy, living there. Sunny weather, lovely house, staff entirely devoted to her…It’s what you make of things, isn’t it? I think one can be happy anywhere.
Oh darling, more tomorrow – just got another call from Moffat, the unhappy artist. Insists on seeing me today, because he happens to be in town. Well, there are about 700,000 people in town, right now!

Oh well, I suppose I’ll let him take me to the seaside. Will have to listen to more griping about his personal and financial hardships…I do so hate it when people complain. If they only knew how unbecoming it is…
More about the Schreierstoren party will have to wait! Will get back to you soonest, off now, love,

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