The best news is that my father, who went to hospital today to collect the results from his tests, has been given the all clear. It’s a massive relief to us all. My mother, too, has suddenly found herself in tip-top health, so I get the very strong impression that someone is looking down at us all and smiling. It’s a very subtle smile at the moment, but I’m hoping that it might break into a grin, or even a chuckle by the end of the year!Autumn is very definitely here and I don’t have a hat. The only hat I have is a bowler hat, which I’d feel silly wearing in the street. I need a big, brown cloth cap like the one I bought in America, which I managed to leave on a bus, or the one I bought in Warsaw, which I left in a church, or the one Nathan stole from a loo in the West Village, which I may have to locate and steel myself.
350 years ago, and Pepys was very much the man about town, gallivanting from one fancy dwelling to another, sorting out provisions for his patron, Lord Sandwich, and gifts for him to present to Queen Catherine in Portugal.
In the evening he met up with a representative of the troublesome woman who owed 10l to his Uncle’s estate. Pepys very much hoped for an out-of-court settlement, “for I would not by any means go to law with a woman of so devilish a tongue as she has.” You do have to be careful who you take to court...Pepys spent the night in a separate bed from his wife. It was cold, and I’m sure Elizabeth would have been very warm, but he was still suffering from the bruise on his testicle, which he’d started to describe as a tumour. He’d been given the oddest-sounding ointment to rub on it, which he described as “a poultice of a good handful of bran with half a pint of vinegar and a pint of water boiled till it be thick, and then a spoonful of honey put to it and so spread in a cloth and laid to it.” Sometimes when I read these kind of things I wince. Pepys, like all the Stuarts, never washed himself, and yet he was smearing honey and vinegar onto his testicles. All I can say is poor Eliabeth...
As the winter nights were drawing in, Pepys decided it was time to start wearing his waistcoat in bed, declaring that he didn’t intend to take it off again until the Spring. Bleughh... Poor Elizabeth!