I knew at some point I didn’t have a future in the job I was in, and I was struggling so much to make ends meet and to communicate with the lady of the house, I started looking in ‘The Lady’ magazine for overseas jobs, as I wanted to travel, often there were jobs in Spain, France or Italy, most of the time people were looking for couples to mind holiday homes, or au pairs, I didn’t want to go to Spain, it seems very hot there and I don’t want hot weather, so I enquired about jobs in Italy and France, and ended up using my holiday time from the tied cottage job on a trip to Italy on a work trial, it was in the Dolomites, so I thought it wouldn’t be too hot, and because it wasn’t in Southern Italy where the hypochondriac couple’s family was, that would prevent any comparing and problems.
But I decided quickly that the pressure I would be under and the Italian lifestyle wouldn’t work, it was useful to find out though, that the Italian courses I had done in my spare time (along with Welsh, Irish and French) were very valid and helped me while I was there. I remember sitting watching an English film in Italy and someone asked me to translate an Italian word into English and I could, and when someone shouted out a question in Italian, I knew the answer, etc.
I felt a bit less small about the hypochondriac family and their boasts once I knew some Italian and some Italian lifestyle.
When the tied cottage job was coming to an end, Jill Lihou was very much involved with me, though at the time I was not responding, Jill and George at the time were just nice people in my vague mind, my thoughts were on my doubtful future and my relationships in the Littleton Benefice, I had been to their church a few times by then, and liked it, but my heart was in L. and WInchester, and Jill had already shoehorned me busily into her and George’s housegroup, which I liked vaguely and disinterestedly, though the housegroup contained some interesting specimens, Paul – who became my ‘friend and took over my finances and screwed them up’– I will explain more later, and Margaret who was a sweet kind lady who was Married to Brian a nice man who was assistant churchwarden.
Anyway, I was struggling in my job, I was slow even when I tried to speed up, I was not deliberately slow, I tried hard, but whether anyone knew that I do not know, and my communication skills were also a great source of concern to my boss, the antidepressants were also playing a part in the demise of the job, and the boss herself being an excitable and high-strung perfectionist who expected perfection and expected chatty staff, was not happy with me, especially not when I went to two funerals in two weeks, one of these was JM’s dad’s funeral, he had died quietly at home while being washed by JM’s sister, he was in his 90s and his heart was failing, but to me JM was still as close as I had to a Mother, and I was on good terms with her parents then, it was like losing family, but in church his family who barely saw him sat in the family pews and I sat at the back alone.
After the funeral JM went a bit mad, her mother felt down and dislocated a supposedly undislocatable hip, and JM kept phoning people and raging, her mother was put in the private hospital and it all got sorted out, I remember going in the hospital to see JM’s mother with her, her mother was not grieving then, but some time later when she was home she kept crying, she cried when she was with me several times and was nice and kind to me at the same time instead of being rude or shouting at me. JM’s dad was quite a gentle person and his death was sad.
I cannot remember the other funeral, it may have been my aunt, in which case that funeral entailed an exhausting interaction with my family, where my mum and my long-estranged sister had problems with each other and my brother who abused me as a child caused me problems. Or was it JP’s funeral? She died while I was there, definitely, but there was so many deaths in my life, too many, though no one I was too close to at the time, I know that the aunt’s funeral happened sometime in those few years, so I think that was it, I remember Anne comforting me,although I wasn’t deeply grieved, my aunt was elderly and at peace, and I remember the long drive to the midlands for the funeral.
Anyway, the I remember coming back from a funeral and being unable to take in the boss lady’s chatter, she told me her brother had had a nervous breakdown, she told me we were shearing the sheep soon and that her son wanted to come back and live at home, I was ill, I collapsed and she called the doctor out to see me at home.
I had to look for somewhere to live, I felt so useless and so ashamed of my inability to do a good job, I found lodgings with a single woman who was a heavy smoker who called me ‘mate’, but communication went awry, and in the meantime Jill phoned when she found I was moving and struggling, and she asked me to go and live with her and George for a few weeks, I agreed this, and stumbled into their ordered house with my chaotic life and possessions, oh God I wish for all our sakes I could turn back time and undo that move.
I was off the stupid venaflaxine, but I think that coming off it may have been a contributor to my collapsed and depressed state but taking it had affected my heart and blood pressure, thus affecting my work.
At Jill and George’s house I dozed and fought with my emotions and grief, this was bad for Jill because of her own emotional problems, but at the time I had no idea of this.
Jill and George were actually preparing to go on holiday in their camper van when they took me in, so it was somewhat irrational of them to take me in anyway, they decided to leave me in their house while they were gone, a Christian act of trust, they must have known me well enough to do this so why do the Jersey Deanery constantly use them against me?
George wrote a ‘List of instructions for the lodger’ which was funny, he was a walking sense of humour and that gained my confidence and I remember one evening he was watering the plants and he said ‘That one is not doing well, what should I do?’ I said ‘I would sing to it’ he said ‘I have done’, I said ‘That’s why it is dying’ and he said ‘how would you like to sleep in the shed?’. From then on we made jokes and wound each other up and bewildered Jill no end, good therapy for me.
They went off to Switzerland, as they did regularly, they left me with a bit of paper that said on it a quote from Ezekiel about the Lord delighting over you with singing, they seemed to think it would help, Jill was a bit frightened because before they went she had wheedled me into talking and had learned of my depression and suicidal thoughts, but I only found out later it had frightened her, and it made me feel bad.
I behaved myself, and Elizabeth and Richard, church people across the Road, and Jane and Kelvin Taylor, the curate and his wife next door, kept an eye on me on Jill and George’s behalf.
Elizabeth came round while they were away and saw I was hoovering and said I was like a good daughter to them, I said I was nothing of the kind and she said ‘adoptive daughter, you know what I mean’, but I said I was not, I was too raw from JM and FM and also probably from the hypochondriacs and their family, I wasn’t anyone’s daughter, I was still waiting for God to answer my prayer for a family.
Elizabeth and Richard were good to me, and I ended up doing their garden for them and also worrying about them as they and their family seemed to be having a run of serious health problems and bad luck. I think it was surprising to me to see good Christians of such good standing in the church struggling so much that they were doing dog walking and cleaning to make ends meet.
Nigel was the vicar, he was a nice staid type but Jill kept going to him about my problems and going on about me, so I was ashamed to speak to him, Nigel had been widowed, his wife had died of Motor Neurone disease, Elizabeth gave me a special framed bit of paper called the prodigal daughter, it had belonged to Nigel’s wife, who they said had seemed closer and closer to God as she died, While I was in that church, Nigel met a divorcee called Sheree, she had three cavalier spaniels and that’s how Nigel got to know her, because he and Liz had had a Cavalier spaniel, anyway, Nigel married Sheree but not in church as she was a divorcee, there was a blessing service and Jill and George were invited but I wasn’t, but when I first met Sheree, Jill told me that she was a speech therapist, and Jill was determined that Sheree was going to help me, and she was so nice, but she didn’t help me or get involved or want to.
The other person in the village who I did not like Jill talking about me to was one of my old Sparsholt Tutors. But Jill did as she pleased, I was the one in the wrong if I spoke up. When George and Jill came back from their holiday, they made a fuss of me and their clean tidy house, and they said I could stay with them until their family came over from Jersey in October for half-term.