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,

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