Sunday, October 07, 2007

Keeping up with the Joneses

Story contd

With two small boys and a large house to look after I was kept pretty busy and the milk dried up at six months. Son# 1 was active as ever and we decided to send him to a little nursery school for a few hours in the morning to prevent him killing himself or his brother. It was run by a vibrant mother of three boys who was determined that her children would be privately educated. This involved sending them to a nearby private school until they were old enough to go to prep school from whence she expected them to go to a famous public school. I believe these names mean different things in the States; suffice it to say that this was going to cost an enormous amount of money and meant a degree of privation for the family.

She and I became friendly and she almost convinced me this was the way to go. I even bought a small red blazer as part of the private school uniform. William and I had long discussions about it and he pointed out that we would have to sacrifice family holidays in order to afford it. I remembered my childhood – Blackpool when we were tots, cycling holidays, youth hostelling and the unforgettable camping holidays in the Lake District. I couldn’t deprive my boys of that sort of childhood. We were both agreed about this so I started to investigate the local state schools.

Cynthia, the nursery school owner was quite a social creature and we were invited to one of her Sunday morning sherry parties. The house was even bigger than ours and twice as draughty and to compensate I drank rather more sherry than was good for me. It seemed to me that all the people there were on a different plane with different aspirations. They knew of my brief moment of fame so I was welcomed but I didn’t feel comfortable and I resolved I wasn’t going to become what I can only describe as a snob. In spite of the drink we got home safely but I hated the feeling of the ground coming up to meet me and decided fortified wines were not for me.

The money I earned modelling had disappeared, mainly on buying things for the house and I was now financially dependant on William. I didn’t enjoy this at all and matters came to a head when I asked for money to buy a new bathing costume for our holiday and - after quite a lengthy campaign - he said no. I remember going out into the garden, staring up at the sky – choked with tears and vowing I would never go hungry again. No of course that was Scarlett O’Hara - I was hardly hungry but I made myself a pledge that somehow how I would become independent again.

Married women then, had a duty to look after their husbands, children, house and garden. That was women’s work; so we cooked and cleaned, bottled and preserved, laundered and ironed, knitted and darned and made do and mended. Hubby would be greeted in the evening with a fresh, pretty little wifey and after a restorative snifter he would kiss the children goodnight and sit down to a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by the lady of the house. It didn’t always work out quite like that. There was a feeling of unrest in the air. We were into the sixties and about to have Women’s Lib make waves and change our lives for ever.

I had a lovely home, a good husband and two delightful little boys and I was unhappy. Maddie and her husband used to come over most week-ends – first shopping in Tunbridge Wells and then dropping in to play with the children and share our supper. They usually brought little gifts for the boys and a bottle of wine and I looked forward to their visits. One evening Maddie and I were washing up after eating a nourishing goulash; she asked me what was wrong and I started to weep. I got a ‘no nonsense ‘ pep talk from her and she suggested I should take a part- time job, have driving lessons, join a theatre club and take a lover. I remember feeling quite shocked. Within a month I had done as she suggested. As she said later

‘I didn’t mean all at once.’

And I didn’t quite do everything she suggested. Naturally.

31 comments:

R. Sherman said...

Blast! I think a funny comment disappeared into the ether. Oh, well.

In any event, thanks for the last sentence. I thought we were about to get into the juicy bits again.

Cheers.

Dandelion said...

So you gave the theatre club a miss then? Very wise.

kenju said...

Well, I for one, am dying to knoww which one you left out! LOL

Granny said...

Here I am again, waiting for the next chapter.

Casdok said...

You dont do things by halves!!

PI said...

Randall: juicy bits? Moi?

Dandelion: har har har!

Judy: do you have to ask?

Granny: a writer's life is never done:)

PI said...

Casdok: that's what Maddie said.

Jack said...

Joneses. Sorry, I can't help myself.

PI said...

Jack: what would I do without you? I keep 'Eats shoots and leaves' in the loo.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

What Kenju and GrannyP said.

And Dandelion.

Dr Maroon said...

"And I didn’t quite do everything she suggested. Naturally"

I Just KNEW you'd never had a driving lesson in your life.

PI said...

Zinnia honey Granny is Ann from the States;of course you know very well who Granny P is. It is confusing because my step-grandchildren call me Granny Pat. And an intimate berated me for calling granny P Penelope and Kenju Judy and OLd OLd Old lady of the hills Naomi because it confused him poor love.

PI said...

Doccie: I'll get you for that! Al.

FOUR DINNERS said...

You keep books in the loo???? You star. Caz thinks I'm nuts for having a book shelf in there. Well? If you run out of paper there's always Harrold Robbins....

PI said...

4d: doesn't everybody?

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

LOL, LOL..Oh you are sly Pat, and know how to "keep us guessing" till the next unstallment....
Hmmmmmm.
Which of these things did Pat NOT Do? LOL...
I Love the story of your life, dear Pat....Such a full and interesting life it has been AND still is!

BTW: I just had my 2 year Blog Anniversary yesterday, October 7th...(When I started my very first blog....)..One of the great great benefits of this blogging obsession has been meeting you, dear Pat....You are a special person and how I wush I mught actually "meet" you in person one day....Who knows, it could happen!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Oops sorry I got my grannies mixed up, hope I didn't upset anyone. That's what comes of reading quickly. Books in the loo is an essential if you ask me. Poetry, mostly, or books of letters, or flash fiction, that kind of thing. Novels or books of longer stories or essays are a bad idea because if someone gets interested you can't get them out of there and end up with a crowd of people hopping up and down outside!

PI said...

Naomi: Congratulations! The feeling is mutual but I visit you often in my mind and am coming right over now.

zinnia: thanks for that - see Wednesday's post:)

f:lux said...

What gets me is... sherry in the morning? Shocking behaviour! ;)

PI said...

f\;lux: I know I know! But it was the sixties.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Well if you couldn't hold your sherry at lunchtime, I don't think you'd have made it in the Diplomatic service. Learning to drive is very empowering. As soon as I got my licence I got in the car that the then boyfriend had found me (note: not paid for - I did that) and left him. Great cliffhanger there, you should have had the East Enders drum roll to finish off with. I will tune in for the next episode with bated breath.

PI said...

Daphne: blast! another ambition dashed. Love your driving story - I expect he fully deserved it. Re ending - they are a weakness of mine and I am frequently berated for them.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Your life story should be on tv, Pat. Which actress would you like to play young you?

PI said...

GG: today's actresses all seem too modern so could I have Vivien Leigh or Audrey Hepburn please?

apprentice said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOH another cliff-hanger
Pat.

I long for your liberation missus.

PI said...

Anna: all's well that ends well:)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

The only thing she forgot to advise you was: Oh, and cuff William.

Nea said...

Good for you Pat. I would hate to have to ask for money to buy clothes from a partner, and then to be denied it.

PI said...

Hoss: I think it is a shock to the system when men realise that every tuppeny bun will now cost him eight pence.

Nea: I felt the stirrings of Women's Lib long before it started and put it down to being an awkward cuss.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I love the idea of "taking a lover". The language I mean. It sort of sounds like taking up cross-stitch or the pianoforte or something. Or strolling into a shop, looking over a few display lovers and then choosing a nice, clean boxed one to keep in a little flat somewhere.

PI said...

Sam:'reading would be too pleasurable a distraction form the work at hand. I think it's to do with coming from a Presbyterian place'
So no clean boxed sets for you missus!