My New Novel
Mary's Mail, The Menopause Period
.......Well, it's not me, is it? I told him, yes I did, I said, "Paul, toilet brushes and dusters are just not me"................
Mary’s Mail is the story of three friends, once neighbours, who keep in touch by email.
Highly strung,Celia, hasn’t taken to life in a small French village, where her neighbours are an old eccentric and a gay couple. When she discovers that her husband has a secret, she embarks on a lifestyle that shocks her friends.
Mary lives with her husband, Geoffrey, in Eastbourne and struggles with her personal sadness over her estranged daughter. When tragedy strikes it is Mary’s sense of humour and her inquisitive nature that keep her going. She feels it's her duty to discover what is going on in the house next door?
Em has to contend with her moody daughter and ‘perfect’ son, as well as her snobbish neighbour, Delia, but she’s happy with her life until man-eater Georgie moves in next door.
18 April 2009
Subject: My big knickers
Oh, the embarrassment. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I was going to tell Celia about it too, but I thought, no, Celia's so prim and proper about certain things, she might think me vulgar. Perhaps I am a little vulgar sometimes, but we all need a
little vulgarity now and again, don't we, Em? How I'm going to get over this I really don't know, my stomach turns somersaults every time I think of it.
Where are my friends when I need them? It's so difficult now without you or Celia to pop into to tell my troubles to, or, as in this case, my humiliation. New neighbours each side and none of them any use to me. The old couple that bought your house must have
hibernated. I haven't seen hide nor hair of them for weeks. Oh, you don't think something awful has happened, do you? Perhaps I should pop round, make sure they're still alive. I mean they are quite elderly, aren't they?
And then there are the people who moved into Celia's house. I don't know what Celia and Paul were thinking, selling to those people. There's her, Panda, she seems to be called, heaven knows why. Perhaps because he gives her a black eye every so often, he
looks the type who might. Anyway, she has tattoos on her arms and legs, and skirts up to her bum; it's disgusting. Oh dear, I'm beginning to sound like Celia, I must be more careful. Can you catch prim and properness, I wonder? Or is it something that comes with old age? I hope not. Can you imagine me changing into Celia? The thought of it!
And then there's him, that Panda's husband. Well, I suppose he's her husband, you never can tell these days. Rog, his name seems to be, rhymes with dog, strange name. Well, he looks fine when he goes out to work in the morning, dressed in a suit, must work in some kind of office, but when he comes home, it's suit off, jeans on and he's out in the garden strumming away on a guitar and when he's not doing that he's inside playing music. How on earth their baby sleeps, I don't know. He too has tattoos all up his arms. Why do they have to tattoo themselves to that extent? Do they think it looks attractive? Far from it in my opinion. I wonder what Geoffrey would say if I came home with a tattoo on my bum. You have to admit there'd be plenty of room for a big one on my backside.
Anyway, back to my predicament. It was awful. I went to my art class Monday evening as usual. I had on my lilac skirt and pink blouse with little flowers on it. Do you remember? I bought it in M & S when we went into town just before you moved. Well, I must have been getting a little over-enthusiastic with the paint and I splashed some on my blouse. I should have been wearing my protective over-top, (which is really just an old shirt of Geoffrey's), but had forgotten to take it, so I went into the ladies to wash it off. I took off the blouse, sponged the paint out of it, and decided I might as well go to the loo whilst I was there. Going into the cubicle, I hung my blouse on the door and sat myself down. There I was, in full wee, when the door was pulled open. I'd forgotten to
lock it and, unfortunately, it wasn't one that pushed inwards, which I could have stopped with my foot, it opened outwards. It was such a shock, Em. There I was, sitting in my bra, blubber hanging in folds around my middle, skirt hauled up, knickers round my knees
and there before me, looking at all this, was Charlie Hughes from my art class. I sat there, toilet paper in hand ready to wipe, feeling my face flush redder and redder, with a shocked looking Charlie standing in front of me.
I don't know who was more embarrassed, poor Charlie or me. Apparently the 'gents' was out of order and there was a sign on the door to tell the men to use the 'ladies'. He stood there for what seemed like ages, but was probably only a few seconds, obviously not knowing what to say or do, then, gathering himself together, he said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," and closed the door.
I jumped up and put the bolt across, a bit late I know, but at that moment I just wanted to bolt out the whole world. I felt I would never be able to step out of that cubicle again. I sat back down for quite some minutes having a terrible hot flush. You know what it's like when you're stressed, the hot flushes seem so much worse. Well this was one of those; my whole body was covered in sweat. It was running down my forehead into my eyes. I was in such a state. After a while I managed to calm down and the flush receded. I don't know how long I'd been in there. I pulled up my knickers and pulled the blouse on to my hot sticky body. Then I stood there, not knowing what to do.
How could I just walk back in that room as if nothing had happened? Charlie had seen my big pink knickers, not sexy lacy ones, but comfortable BIG ones. He'd seen the fat bulging out from under my bra and hanging over the waist of my skirt, rolls of it. At
that moment I felt huge. Well I suppose size twenty is quite huge and without clothes on, not a pretty sight. Fortunately, Geoffrey doesn't seem to notice it, says the cuddlier I get, the warmer I keep him in bed. So sweet my Geoffrey.
Oh, before I forget Geoffrey says to say hello to Robin. He seems to be a bit lost since Robin and Paul have gone. Can't have their get-togethers for man type gossip any more. He potters about the garden looking like a forlorn puppy, poor soul.
But to get back to the loo and Charlie. As I said, I stood in the cubicle undecided of what I should do. Fortunately for me, by the time I got up the courage to emerge, the lesson was just ending and I could hear people starting to leave, so I stayed in the safety of my
cubicle for a while longer, to give Charlie the chance to leave as well. I really didn't think I'd ever be able to face him again.
I don't think Charlie actually used the toilet in the end. I never heard him anyway, unless he's one of those people who pees quietly. I wish I was like that, but no, my pee likes to make itself heard. Full gush, thunderous ones, mine are, like a waterfall cascading into a river. Why on earth Charlie didn't hear my full Niagara flow, I don't know. Perhaps he's a little deaf. It must be so nice to have delicate trickling pees that are almost silent. Anyway
Charlie's need for a pee was probably halted having been put off by the horrific sight he had just witnessed!
When I thought it was safe, I crept back into the art room, but to my dismay Charlie and a couple of the others were still there. They were talking and didn't notice my return; so, keeping my head down, I picked up my pad and paints, snatched my coat from the hook and with a quick "goodbye everyone", which came out more like a nervous squeak, I hurried from the college.
Oh, why does the college have steps? Fifteen steps in fact. I counted them as I tried to get down as quickly as I could without falling. As I got to the bottom I heard Charlie call my name, but by then I was going almost at a run and, as luck would have it, my bus came along, so to Charlie it could have looked as though I were running for the bus and not running in panic from him. How could I ignore him like that? I'm never that rude. Poor Charlie.
I sat on that bus with sweat pouring off me; dabbing at my face and neck with disintegrating tissues. Where does all this fluid come from? Why don't menopausal women shrivel up from dehydration?
I can't possibly go back, Em. How can I go back after the position Charlie's seen me in? I mean just how far up my skirt could he have seen? I hate to think. Although on reflection, I don't suppose he would have seen much, too much fat hiding my intimate bits.
I never did finish my wee, you know. It stopped very abruptly when the door opened and never continued. Of course I don't mean I haven't been able to go since, I was dying to go by the time I got home, but I certainly wouldn't have been able to squeeze any out in that cubicle. Panic stricken pee, that's what I had.
Now on to other gossip. Joe Trumble from across the road has been sent down again. Heaven knows what he's been up to this time. Looks like his son Billy might be going the same way. How old must he be now? About twenty-three? Police were there the other day and took him away. He was home again later though; so don't know what all that was about. No doubt I shall find out in time. You know me, always manage to sniff out the gossip.
Poor Rita, I do feel sorry for her having to struggle with two kids and her husband inside all the time. Always seems such a nice woman whenever I speak to her and that little Amy of hers is a cute little thing, she must be about ten by now. Just hope she
doesn't go the way of her dad and brother. It would be such a shame if she did.
Say hello to the kids. You're lucky to still have kids at home. As you know I hardly ever see Lisa.
Daring deed of the day: Clip a banana skin to your hair, walk to
the local shop and buy a pound of bananas. Do not remove the
banana skin until you get back home.
20 April 2009
Subject: What a sight - bare ears!
I'm not sure that I like France, Mary. It's not at all what I expected. I know I came out with Paul to look at the house before we moved over here, but the village looked quite pleasant then. Living here and visiting are two quite difference things.
I look ridiculous, Mary, quite ridiculous. Against my better judgement I went to the hair salon in the village. There are two hairdressers, a woman of about my age, rather snooty, in a French sort of way and a young girl; and do you know what? They couldn't speak more than six words of English between them. It's shameful, isn't it? You'd think everyone would be taught English these days. Why should I have to learn a strange language? It's quite unfair.
Well, as you can imagine, trying to explain how I wanted my hair done was a nightmare. They gave me a book of pictures, but most of them were quite outlandish, none of them the sort of style I would want on my head. In the end I explained in English and with
hand actions, just how I wanted my hair done and the girl nodded and smiled, so I thought, success, she's understood. How wrong I was.
Oh, Mary, you should see my hair. I shall have to hide inside for weeks. It's hideous, it really is. I look dreadful. Paul says I look fine and doesn't see what all the fuss is about, but he's a man, what do they know? It's so short. I didn't realise she had cut so much off.
I was concentrating on what the other hairdresser and her customer were saying, hoping to understand at least one word, but no, it was all total nonsense to me. And now look at me. Exposed ears, yes, exposed ears and you know how I like my ears covered, don't you?
But I couldn't complain could I? How do you complain in French? It's awful, simply awful.
I'm so isolated. The village consists of only three shops, a boulangerie, a very small general store and that dreadful hairdresser. Now how am I supposed to survive with just three shops? I'm really not sure village life suits me; I'm not the village type of person. You can understand that, can't you? I need shops, lots of shops, huge department stores and little boutiques. I've told Paul I need to go shopping, but does he listen? No, he doesn't. He doesn't understand that a woman needs to shop. It's part of our nature, isn't it?
If only I could drive, I could take myself to Paris and have a wonderful time. Paul says he'll take me, but when? He's always so busy and it's just not the same with a man trailing along asking how much longer you're going to be, is it? I've told him. "Shopping
is a serious business, Paul," I've said. "It takes time; it's not something that can be rushed."
I'm going to go insane, quite insane, if I don't get out and about soon. I need freedom. I'm trapped. That's what I am, trapped.
Then there's the house. Where on earth am I to find a cleaner? I miss Alice so much. She kept my house in Eastbourne spotless. Well you know that, of course you do, but now, what am I to do? Where do I find a cleaner such as her? Paul is most unsympathetic.
He said I'll just have to clean it myself until I find someone suitable. I mean, that's not me, is it? I told him, yes I did. I said, "Paul, toilet brushes and dusters are just not me."
I have no neighbours to speak of either; no-one lovely like you and Em. There's a very strange man on one side who peers at me all the time. He seems a very odd character. I told Paul that I didn't like him, but he said he hasn't noticed anything strange about him
and it's just me being silly. I'm not silly, am I, Mary? Would you say I'm silly?
Paul said the house on the other side has just been bought, but he doesn't know who by. I do hope they're nice and can speak some English. Someone I could have a little chat with in English would make all the difference; it would make things so much easier for me, don't you agree?
I must try to be happy here for Paul's sake. He loves his job and he loves the country, but it's so much easier for him. He speaks the language. It's hard for me to mix with people when I can't understand a word they say.
I need my friends. I need you and Em. I have the boys, of course, but you can't have a good gossip with children, can you? What do you do in a village? Em seems to have settled into hers and made friends, but I suppose it's easier when everyone talks
English. I'll never learn French, Mary. I'm English; it's just not in me to speak anything else.