Thursday, 7 July 2016

In which I take risk of offending a distant family member who I don’t think reads this blog but just might come across it. Oh, and a hearty hello to a reader from Eye, in Suffolk, who seems to be a regular visitor. I’ll explain how I know in a let blog entry (although the eagle-eyed might find out for themselves)

This started as an email to a friend (who reads this blog). I far prefer writing long emails and would even write letters if my handwriting weren’t so illegible, but at least I can write long emails. I trust my friend, — — — — —, won’t object to this odd time-saving technique, but I have promised him that if he is offended, I shall delete it.

Hi —————,

I hope this email finds you well. I have been listening to the Philip Eade book and shall in a minute listen to this morning's edition because I missed it. It is interesting and entertaining enough, but I haven't heard anything yet I hadn't heard before.

I've just been onto Amazon to look it up, but instead bought a biography of Waugh called Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by one Paula Byrne simply because the Amazon blurb contains the following rather startling claim 'Far from the snobbish misanthropist of popular caricature, she uncovers a man as loving and complex as the family that inspired him – a family deeply traumatised when their father was revealed as a homosexual and forced to flee the country'.

Well, I've read several biographies (of which I think Selina Hastings is by far the best) and thought I knew most facts about Waugh and the course of his life, but that one really is new on me. I know less of his life in the Fifties up to his death, so maybe that's when it happened. He did have a nervous breakdown of sorts because of his heavy drinking and the sleeping draughts he was taking and took himself off on a long cruise (later written up in the ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold), so maybe that is the episode she is referring to. But I do think if Waugh was a closet queen (and six children and seven pregnancies seem to indicate he also like the women), wouldn't it have 'come out' before now. I shall tell you more once I have read the book. (I got that wrong, apparently, although I blame the Amazon summariser for writing so vaguely.)

Still got the hives, but it is all very odd. I thought it was primarily a skin thing, but I'm not getting that at all really. With me it is something called histamines making my skin prickle/tickle/itch in different parts and I am simply trying to get on with it and wait for it to finish, though it has been going on since last October (when, though, it took are rather more severe form). I do feel a bit of a fraud in that other folk around and about are getting strokes, cancer, heart failure etc, but all I have to complain about is that 'my skin prickles/tickles/itches a lot and it's uncomfortable'. For example, Seth Cardew died a few months ago (and you emailed me at the time) and that was wholly unexpected: death is rather more severe a fate than pricklin'/ticklin'/itchin'.

I swallow antihistamines of all kinds by the handful, but whether it makes any difference I really don't know. Today, for example, I didn't take any and it is pretty much the same, a bit better if anything. Oddly, it seems to have hit my left eye, with the eye getting blurred with gunge of a kind and the pharmacist I asked in Asda (it has its own pharmacy in Bodmin) said he didn't think it was conjunctivitis and suggested anti-histamine eyedrops. The eye is also a little read and raw, so I have stopped wearing my contacts for a while and wear glasses, and as they are the kind which darken in the light (polymorphic/luciduous/transmutual/metadoxic - I'm sure there's a more technical word for it, but I can't think what it is) I am often mistaken for a French existentialist by the good folk hereabouts who are slowly (though surely) emerging from the Fifties.

As for the blog, well I did mention that I hadn't written many entries recently because all I could think about was this very, very silly Brexit crap. I don't know about you, but my view is a plague on both their houses, but, of course, that isn't much of a practical stance. I get equally pissed off with the 'I am a passionate European' creeps who claim they were 'devastated' by the result of the referendum as with the idiots who swallowed all the 'we must take back control of our own destiny' bollocks. Neither side seems to have a clue about any of it. I voted Remain because, by a whisker, it struck me as the most practical choice of two very, very bad choices.

I honestly think this one will run and run with 'Article 50' not being called for for some time yet and in the meantime the EU being convulsed with rebellion elsewhere. Undoubtedly it will have economic consequecnes, but then it isn't as if we were doing all that well anyway. In the long run the wealthy will stay wealthy, the poor will still be shat upon and the middle middle will carry on reading the fucking Money Mail pages of the Daily Mail and congratulating themselves on saving £23 a year by switching chimney sweeps.

There was one other thing I could have written about, a brief three-day trip to Hamburg for the funeral of an uncle (not a blood relative, but the husband of a blood relative). I met my two first cousins again and the two extremely attractive daughters, 24 and 21, of my male cousin.

Hamburg struck me as a pleasant city although even they admit the weather can be very iffy the whole year round. I flew out on the Thursday, attended the funeral on the Friday, had the do and later a meal, and flew back to London on the Saturday. (Incidentally, while writing this - and I hope you don't mind - I thought I might also
post it as the latest entry of my blog to reassure my dear public that I haven't yet died of hives. But I shall remove your name. If you object, tell me, and I shall remove it again. And what I am about to write will make sense, not so far mentioning the trip to Hamburg, I mean.)

I was dossing down with the elder second cousin/great niece (?) and her boyfriend, an American who is 'studying for a Masters' in Hamburg, yet doesn't speak any German. I really can't make that out. (My two second cousins/great nieces (?) both speak excellent English). Anyway, my cousin - my second cousin - went around to her father's house - my first cousin - to help him write his funeral oration so I took the Yank out for a meal at a (rather good) hamburger joint he recommended. The point is that he was almost a caricature of a twentysomething Yank from rural Illinois. He is a lacrosse player (and took off to Berlin to play in a lacrosse tournament on the Friday night at the last minute) but more to the point was dull, dull, dull and had no conversation. (I am bound to admit that he is so far in my life the only twentysomething from Illinois I have met and that it is entirely possible that not every single young male from rural Illinois is dull. Which reminds me of something a certain actor/manager/writer, Samuel Foote, said: 'Not only is he dull, but he is the cause of dullness in others'. Foote was actually a Cornishman from Bodmin, though he hightailed it to the bright lights of London pretty sharpish.)

When I find myself in that situation, my standard strategy is to ask people questions about themselves, and I have yet to meet anyone who won't willingly bore you solid with detail after detial of the duller aspects of their lives, but it is - it always is - heavygoing. And
that, really, was why I didn't write a blog entry about it all: there was no way I couldn't mention him, but I didn't want to risk my cousin, his girlfriend, comin)g across it and thinking I'm a two-faced cunt (which now, of course, I shall if she comes across this.)

Well, as I shall be posting this as an entry on my blog, I have obviously changed my mind. And that is it, — — — — —. Yes, I shall try to get down to your neck of Sussex and we can have another lunch. I was thinking of combining it with a trip to see a college friend who is now retired and has washed up in Deal.

All the best, Patrick.

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