Friday, 26 August 2011

Let me be weak, let me sleep

I’m watching a programme about bears in Minnesota, which I’m finding rather moving for some reason. Nathan thinks it’s because I’m recognising my own species! They really are the most beautiful creatures, and it surprises me that they’re so openly hunted in the States.

I slept in late this morning. In the wee smalls, just as we were arriving back from Cambridge last night, I received a text from Fiona, who’d found a mouse in her bedroom, which was freaking her out a bit. At one stage the little critter was sitting on the top of the curtain rail which is directly above her bed. Unsurprisingly, she came up to sleep at ours, and opted, wisely, for the loft space, because our feral pet rats were on the loose in the sitting room. Out of the frying pan and all that...
We had a late night cuppa before turning in, and it was 3am before I knew it.

This morning I went to Marble Arch to see Matt’s new house, which is very swanky indeed. We had lunch in an Italian just off the top end of Oxford Street, and caught up on about 3 months’ gossip. After saying goodbye, Nathan and I wandered towards Soho through that rather peculiar part of London which is south of Oxford Street and north of Piccadilly. It’s where all the tailors and posh people hang out, which probably explains why I’d never been there before. The area smelt of wealth. Everywhere we looked, another impeccably-dressed individual was sashaying along the road looking rather pleased with him or herself.  
I had my hair cut in Soho. I liked the lady that did it. She looked about 6 years old, but took a great deal of care over what she was doing, opting to use clippers rather than scissors. She even trimmed my eyebrows, so now I look a great deal less like Denis Healy and probably at least 2 years younger!

I am, however, proper knackered, which makes me feel at least 60 years old. I’m sitting in front of the telly and can barely keep my eyes open.

350 years ago, Pepys was forced to bid a fond – and tearful - farewell to his trusty servant Jane, who was going to live in the country with her mother. She obviously didn’t want to leave, and cried a great deal as Pepys handed over her final wage packet, along with a little something extra for having been a loyal servant for three years; “I shall never have one to please us better in all things.” He wrote, rather winsomely. But fear not, dear readers... she will return.

He then went to see his father, and together with his brother, Thomas, got to work on the family accounts. They discovered their father had but 45l in the world, much of which he owed to others. It was a sobering thought. What if he’d died before inheriting money from his brother (Pepys’ Uncle) Robert? What would have become of his good-for-nothing wife?
Aside from a quick visit to the theatre, the rest of the day was spent dealing with family business; discussions about the will, discussions about potential brides for Pepys’ brother, Thomas... At one point, they were met by a veritable deputation of people who wanted to have a go at Pepys’ father for sacking his servant, Ned. We’re not told what Ned’s crime was.

There was a letter waiting from Sandwich when Pepys returned home. All seemed well, but he was still in Alicante with no plans to return to Britain with Catherine de Braganza any time soon. Ms - or Lady – or Princess de Braganza, had been betrothed to Charles II. She was Portuguese, so heaven knows what Sandwich was doing in eastern Spain. The letter was dated July 22nd, so it took about a month to arrive, which probably beats a postcard sent from Spain via the Royal Mail.

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