That hideous shrub, that camellia you planted near our front door, is thankfully dead. You’ve no idea how pleased I was. I’ve never liked the thing as you know. It flowers white with dribbles of pink, like God had been cleaning his teeth and dribbled pink toothpaste all down the front of His white shirt. It’s always been bordering on the grotesque. And now thankfully it’s dead.
I never had the heart to chop it out. You planted it, and liked it, and when you passed away I thought it could stay there as some sort of memorial. Every year, for the past fifteen years, I thought, “That goddam thing is in flower again”. Well! It died, and without any help from me. At last I could dig it out and plant something – in your memory of course – in its place. Only yesterday I went to the plant shop and bought the most beautiful rhododendron. It’s white with a pink throat. I intend to plant it in the same spot. I shall call it “My beautiful rhodo”.
You’ve no idea the trouble I’ve gone to rid myself of that old camellia. The trash collection no longer accepts “garden waste”, so I’ve had to cut the shrub into tiny bits and hide them in black plastic trash bags. It’s amazing how much wood there is in an old camellia shrub. It’s taken four weeks of trash collections, but at last it’s gone except for the stump and roots which I intended to dig out and trash today before planting the rhododendron.
Except this morning when I went out to begin the task I saw the stump had sprouted. I’m sorry, my dear.
When Pretoria (her great-grandfather had served in the Boer War and somehow her naming had something to do with that. Her grandmother had explained it to her once, and now that she was older she wished she had listened and remembered. It was something to do with the fact that he (her great-grandfather) had caught malaria and spent the entire war in a mobile hospital unit being shunted from one encampment to another. Why they just didn’t send him home was anyone’s guess. She didn’t actually recall hearing anything about her great-grandfather being in Pretoria itself. Anyway she was glad they never called her Johannesburg or even Port Elizabeth. Her brother was called Klerksdorp, a name he hated with a vengeance. At least it made him look up a bit of history when he was at school – that is before he changed his name to Clark (similar to Clark Gable and Lois and Clark)) was getting ready to go to town when she notice that the car had a puncture (which reminds me that where I go to get my car serviced they have a great big sign that says: Puntchers fixed for $10. The head mechanic’s daughter is a school teacher so I’m not surprised about the lack of spelling. The standard of teaching these days is appalling but that’s because the teachers themselves were badly tort by bad teachers so it’s been going on for generations, getting lower and lower in standards. Not only that but teachers these days can’t stay on the topic and wander off like they start talking about the properties of hydrogen peroxide and end up talking about hair dye or something. It’s pathetic. Punctuation has also gone out the window. And so have manners. Old-fashioned values like courtesy are for the birds).
Anyway I better shut up and get some work done. I’ve a lecture to give tomorrow. I’m excited because I recently got a pay rise. I’m a professor at Harvard, and deal mainly with Logic in the Philosophy Department. I’m hoping to tell them about my great-aunt Pretoria who is long dead and I have only a vague memory of her. She collected teaspoons apparently. From all over the world.
Hello. I’m here to collect for the Red Cross. They say you have a son roughly the same age as my son. Well – I’d like to say just one thing. Why should I have to suffer because my son was killed in the war, while your namby-pamby son sits around doing nothing? I hear he doesn’t even have a job. You obviously brought him up to be lazy. Like mother like son I always say. There’s a reason why lazy slobs like your son don’t get out of their cosy house and do something positive for their country. That reason is always the parents. No, I have no qualms in telling it the way it is to your face. My son died so your son could enjoy his sloppy life in peace. It’s not fair. There’s no justice left in the world.
Who’s this coming into the room? That’s right, don’t introduce me. Continue to play the rude housewife. I didn’t know you had an invalid in a wheelchair in your house. Does he live here? Who is it?
It’s very interesting listening to what other people have to say – if only you’d shut up for a minute, Giles… It’s very interesting listening to what other people have to say and if… shut up Giles… if I had a penny for every time someone told me about… Giles if you don’t have anything sensible to say then just shut up. You go on and on and on and nothing makes sense. You rabbit on about sweet nothing and no one’s listening so just shut up. Now, where was I?
That’s right… I was going to tell you about the time… Oh for goodness sake. Not again. Look at that. That’s the third time today that’s happened. Don’t just stand there, Giles, looking like a decoration. Do something about it. It’s the third time today. Some people have no idea about the proper way things should be done. If I had a penny for every time… Giles do something! Do something about it! Oh for goodness sake. I’ve had a gutsful.
I was trying to tell you about… oh my goodness it’s going to rain. It always rains when I’m about to start. It’s like pressing a button, step outside to do the… there! They’re doing it again, shut up Giles, I forgot my umbrella. Be a darling Giles and dash inside and get my umbrella oh for goodness sake, for goodness sake what a mess you’re not listening
Some compare me to Mother Teresa (if you can remember that far back). Well I’m not Mother Teresa; I’m NOT standing at the BOTTOM of the cliff picking up the pieces like she did. I’m there at the top of the cliff. I’m at the top of the cliff helping people.
It happened almost accidentally. I started personally helping people at the top of the cliff and invited others to contribute. People cottoned on. I found the best way to get help was to promise them things; for example, if they gave ten thousand I’d make sure their photo got into the paper. I have enough connections to do that! People are so vain. You have to use their foibles in order to make charity work. I called my charity the Cliff Rockbottom Foundation.
It’s strange, but the more I help people the more I get enjoyment. It’s so satisfying pushing people off that cliff.
I’ve been meaning to tell you for some time – something important about the forthcoming presidential election in America… As you can possibly see, I am about to start the lawn mower and mow the lawn. I quite like mowing the lawn, but these days the lawn mower gets a bit temperamental when it comes to starting. It used to start on the first pull of the rope, but now it seems to take two or three attempts before it flutters into operation.
There! See! I just pulled it once and it didn’t start. So again! Here goes!
…..… the event………………………….. and even if………………………………………………….. on… Hillary………….. sounds crazy but……………………………. and even if she did we…………..… on the other hand who knows? …..utterly corr…………………………..… thirteen daisies make a……………….……….…………………………….… Donald whenever……………………….… that…………quite idio……………………………………………………………………………………………….
finished………………………. mulcher…….. rain………..
There now! All done! At last I’ve got that off my chest.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being a grandmother and having the grandchildren stay over. But I like to give them proper food. Their mother, for all her excellent upbringing, doesn’t feed them properly. They’re malnourished. I make sure they’re sent home with tummies full of good healthy food.
One of their favourite foods is liver. It must be the way I cook it. Their mother claims it to be the most disgusting organ in a cow and says the children hate it. She refuses to feed it to them. But a liver is low in calories, low in fat, and packed with nutrients, including riboflavin, copper, vitamins A and B12 and B6, thiamin, protein and iron. What could be healthier?
The grandchildren gobble it up. When I come from the kitchen to the dining table their plates are always empty. Not a liver left. And it makes them full of energy. Damien, the oldest boy, always asks at the end of a liver meal if he can go out and dig the garden.
I’m having a terrible time trying to get the washing dry. I hung it out this morning – just my husband’s shirt and trousers and things – but it’s been raining all day.
The neighbour stuck her head out her window and asked why I was hanging the washing on the line when it was raining? What does your husband think of you standing in the rain hanging out the laundry? Nosey Parker.
So, the clothes won’t dry, but that’s alright. I was thinking I’d take my husband’s things and put them in the Salvation Army’s used clothing bin. I’ll do that once they’re dry.
I suppose the bullet hole in the back of the shirt won’t matter. As long as it’s clean.
Well sometimes, you know, it’s very hard to know what to do – what the right thing is to do. Marjory has bad breath. Everyone in the office knows that Marjory has bad breath but no one wants to tell her.
So I took the bull by the horns and told her. “Marjory,” I said, “do you realize that you have bad breath?” And she said, “Oh, it’s garlic.” And I said, “Well it can’t be garlic. You always have bad breath, and you wouldn’t have bad breath all the time unless you ate garlic all the time.”
So she rushed off to the ladies’ room and said she never wants to speak to me again and that’s where she is now. And quite frankly I don’t know what to do because it’s nearly time to go home and I always get a ride home in Marjory’s car. So if she’s going to pout I’ll just have to take the bus.
I mean someone had to tell her.
Here she comes now. Stinky breath. Stinky breath. Hey-ho. Stinky breath.
Oooooh! You won’t have heard her, but she just walked straight past me and said “Fat bitch” right in my face and breathed on me.