Slightly irked in spite of myself about doing stuff for other people. I guess I must be fairly grudging about giving of myself and my time, or money come to that, and the less I have to do with other people the meaner I seem to get. Looking after Bram felt like a significant expenditure of time, energy and worry, and a saving of kennel fees for E (I don't think that was an option anyway, it was too late to book him in), and I find myself casting a rather critical eye at the remainder of the pretty average bottle of Côtes du Rhône and little box of chocolates we received for it.
A good choclatier, it's true, but one you can find in St Brieuc, not special to Paris, and more than half of them are dark. And that's another thing; I almost always know my friends' preferences like that, who likes milk and who likes dark*, what vegetables they will and won't eat, whether they like their cheese grilled or not, and generally what not to serve them. (I also tend to know their colours; I remember when J1 gave J2 a piece of jewellery with an amethyst in it, an over-extravagant gesture anyway, thinking that was a silly ignorant thing to do, J2 absolutely never wears anything purple, had even mentioned the fact before, and she later confirmed this to me unprompted and aside with regard to said gift.) Nobody, my darling, could call me a fussy woman, but I've had the what-kind-of-chocolate-do-you-prefer conversation with everyone I know, I think, often several times, yet when I get chocolates, there are always too many dark ones.
The there's the matter of searching for student accommodation for Simone and Jean-Felix's daughter, interpreting and translating and trying to explain to one side that the relevé d'identité bancaire does not exist as such in the UK, or to the other that people in Brittany can't really just pop over to Golders Green on a quick trip to look at how well the bedside light works, trying to get a word in as everyone concerned talks digressively nineteen to the dozen, so important questions are forgotten to be asked or answered. And somehow I've ended up agreeing, well, OK, volunteering but being taken up rather more readily than I expected, to travel into London from Essex on the one full day I have in England, when it might have been nice to hang out with my sister looking at Indian textiles at the V&A , to check out the room on offer, turn euros into pounds and secure it for them.
This is awful I know, better not to do anything for anyone than volunteer then grouch about it, or about what I don't get in return; labour and not ask for any reward etc. Sod it, I'm no saint.
Just say no, what I'm always exhorting others, Jung and his day off and all that. But the fact is if you blank people from the start you really end up doing without people. I'm sure my
Which may or may not be true; E wrote us a heartfelt note to accompany the wine saying how sorry she was about the problems we'd had with Bram, and how she'd be happy to do anything she could in return. She's already agreed to be on standby for our airport run if existing arrangements fall through, and to be on the end of the phone in an emergency for G and A when they house sit.
Then there are all the ways in which it has come around already, which perhaps I am ignorant and unappreciative of. E has hosted our yoga mornings, providing coffee and space for more than ten years now. She is always upbeat and good company, living on her own with her dogs with rough-and-ready, plain Dutch, style and grace, she is a tonic, and I know she's poorer than we are financially. Simone, when she was our insurance agent, was a tower of strength and good advice when it came to scrapes and prangs and worse. That was her job, it's true, but she did it in a way that was very hands-on and human, and I know by the time she retired she was getting very fed up with being the broker, stuck in the middle, continually having to mediate and meet the demands and discontents of customers and company, and I'm generally admiring of people who undergo the stresses and strains of a working life that I don't have to.
And rather to my surprise, Tom agreed quite cheerfully to accompany me to Golders Green, a hitherto unknown area of London to explore a bit, there might even be a pie shop there, so we'll make the best of it.
Then there are the people in my life, too many to mention really, like my sister who will be cheerful and accommodating about putting us up between our dashing off to north London and Iceland, treating her house like a hotel, who is always thoughtful and tactful and knowing about other people's likes and needs and giving in the extreme, and like G and A who will come and house sit while we're away and overwhelm us with food and cooking and fuss and generosity, and who delight in sharing their lovely soppy dogs with us, dogs who are very ready to be adored.
And then there's everyone who comes here and reads all this stuff even when I'm posting every day,and listens to my petty whinges, and continues to amaze and gratify with kindness and good humour and friendship, on and off-line. It all comes around in abundance really.
PS - I'll knit for anyone at the drop of any hat, knitting, either on commission or off my own bat, I undertake completely without any sense of onus and it never counts amongst the things I resent doing.
*or professes to. Solipsism rules, and I don't believe that anyone genuinely prefers dark to milk, they just think it makes them more sophisticated to say so. Pace to those who truly do, I know you will protest your case, but I have found my conclusion has in the past been substantiated in cases when I have placed milk chocolate (often bought by myself) beside dark (sometimes bought by them) side by side in front of them and watched them scoff down the milk unhesitatingly and leave the dark.