I woke up on the morning of my birthday and thought “Fifty Five, that has a nice ring to it”. I mentioned this to Peter, who said, “Enjoy it, it only lasts a year”. Ah well, having a birthday has its advantages, I got tea in bed and Peter ventured out into the cold to feed the birds. I felt all warm and fuzzy after reading my birthday greetings on Facebook, and had a good laugh watching a YouTube video that a friend had sent me of Peter Cook’s Experiences Down The Mine . Later in the morning, my friend Annie from Cape Town phoned to wish me a happy birthday and she asked how old I was. “55” I said and she replied, “That has a nice ring to it”!
I grew up in a home with a Yorkshire mother and a cockney father. My childhood was littered with quaint expressions like you’ll get a clip around the lug’ole, you gormless git you. One of the expressions I heard quite often was there’s nowt so queer as folk. My mum even has a little wooden plaque hanging up in her wee house that belonged to my Irish grandmother. On it is inscribed:
“All the world’s queer save thee and me,and even thee’s a little queer”.
I suspect that if you called someone “a little queer” now, it would not go down too well.
It’s funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) how you can bend over backwards to help someone; you can be generous, accommodating, helpful and thoughtful. And then you make one mistake, unintentional perhaps, or unavoidable even, that this person takes offence at and suddenly all the good pales into insignificance and you become the “bad guy”. I’ve seen it happen so often, especially with Peter, who is way more generous and willing to put himself out to help others than I am. And I wonder if it is human nature to tend towards wanting to bite the hand that feeds us. I wrote in one of my posts a while back that I’m not going to put up with being taken advantage of anymore. And I have used the sentiments I expressed then to prompt myself to respond to situations that I have felt to be unfair, rather than simply let “them” get away with it. I don’t think that I’ve behaved in any ungrateful or unkind way, but I have been speaking up when I would previously have seethed in silence. The first time I put my resolution into practice was when we had pizza delivered to our Durban house. One bite into my regular order of Mexican Fiesta and I realised that there was none of the usual sauce on it. So I phoned Debonairs and expressed my disappointment. Not long after a fresh and deliciously sauced pizza arrived at the door. QED, I felt quite chuffed, it works!
A recent incident involved the buyers of our house (T & C). Firstly, I must say that our estate agent, Marc Lurie from ReMax, is a gem. He managed the sale of the house from beginning to end in the most professional, competent and hassle-free manner possible. Peter dealt mostly with T&C through Marc, but he made the mistake of being too obliging. We had a call from T to say that they wanted to take over our telephone lines and that she needed me to fill in some forms and supply her with a certified copy of my ID. She would pop in later for it. I was up to my ears in packing but I dutifully went off and got my ID copied and certified for her. I also offered to leave two of Alex’s school blazers for her son which she was most grateful for, and I even had them dry-cleaned. But most generous on Peter’s part was the fact that he allowed them free access to the house for two weeks after we had moved out and before they planned to move in, even though legally it still belonged to us. The day after we moved out, Theodora, Zina, Judy and Peter moved in to clean and clear the remaining stuff that didn’t make it into the removal van.
T & C moved in on the 7th of June and transfer was registered on the 11th, which meant that we were owed 4 days of occupational interest, but we were not really all that bothered to claim it. That is until Peter got a long and garbled text message from T demanding, rather imperiously, that we come and remove some stuff that we had left behind within 2 days as they were going on a trip to England and would like it removed before they left. It turns out that we had inadvertently left behind an old pool net (tucked out of sight and out of mind down the side of the house), a few old curtain rods and wooden planks in the rafters of the garage and a couple of empty pots in the garden, all of which could have been put out on the pavement and would have disappeared within minutes. But no, we had to get a snotty text demanding that we return from the Midlands forthwith to remove a bit of junk. Well that simply ruined the friendship! In the past I would have complied but this time I decided enough was enough. I responded by suggesting that they use the occupational rent owing to us to offset any expenses in getting rid of said unwanted items. Her reply floored me, “I think it is only fair to clear one’s property of all your contents when moving, but if you don’t then be that as it may”. She went on to say that if we want occupational rent, they are more than happy to pay it. I then contacted Marc who kindly offered to collect whatever was left on the pavement and take it to the dump. When I informed T of this, she told me not to bother because C had arranged for it to be removed.
Well, there you are, proof that there’s nowt so queer as folk. I can’t help thinking how trivial her complaint was in relation to all the goodwill that had preceded it. And how we will be remembered as the “bad guys”, not because we left behind blazers, helped to transfer telephone lines, handed over the keys two weeks earlier than required, and tried our level best to insure that the house was in good nick when we left, but because we left behind a bit of junk.
This has reminded me of all the other times when people I know have allowed the negative to cloud over the positive, and I have had to ask myself if this tendency towards ungratefulness, that seems so prevalent in others, is there in me? And I have to grudgingly admit that it is. I am definitely quicker to criticize than I am to thank. I can already hear Peter muttering “I’ll second that” when he reads this. So here’s my heartfelt apology to anyone reading this to whom I’ve appeared ungrateful. Please don’t take it personally (don’t you hate it when people say that?), it’s just human nature.
However, be that as it may, from now on I’m going to make a concerted and conscious effort to be more appreciative.
Recently I spent a week in Cape Town on holiday with Alex. I am so grateful that my son will occasionally be seen in public with me and not only that, but he also appears to enjoy the time we spend together.