Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 2)
Jules Lablagues xx
Thank you for the letter which I received this morning. In it you compliment my English although my fluency is easily explained. As a child I had an English nanny and therefore English was my first language. As a boy I had an English tutor and, in my early twenties, I lived for two years with some cousins who have an estate in Buckinghmshire. I read nothing but English books and the Times is delivered to our door. My radio is tuned to programme four. I hope this clarifies matters.
Thank you, also, for the photograph of you and your sisters. I will enclose a picture of my family with this letter. Jacques will not be on it though. He has not been on a family photograph since he was fourteen. To my knowledge he has not had his photograph taken since then. It is for the same reason all the mirrors in the house are covered when not in use. Jacques does not like his own image. He frequently wears a wollen balaclava around the house but it does not interfere with his enjoyment of life. He eats as heartily as any three year old I have ever met and, provided we cut up his meat, he is well able to feed himself.
That is the strange thing about regression therapy; life goes backwards for the person involved. It is quite unnerving for the person's family as well, I can assure you. Just six months ago he was able to ride a bicycle and play table-tennis but now he has barely mastered walking and bumps into things all the time. As for table-tennis; we have to hide the balls away as he puts them in his mouth and we are afraid he will choke on one.
You say your sisters are boring. I think not. I found your description of them fascinating and feel as if I know them already. To work in a pub, as your sister Kirsty does, is my dream. I would like to be the landlord of a thatched public house in Surrey. I would stand behind the bar and know the names of every single customer. I would wear a tweed jacket and sometimes play darts and shove ha'penny.
I know it can never come true but it's nice to have dreams. Do you have any dreams, apart from becoming a fashion designer? A girl of your intelligence could do anything. You say you were disappointed with three Es in your GCSEs but you should not be. Three 'excellents' is something to be proud of. The only grade higher is 'very excellent' and few students get this.
I am sorry to hear about your father losing his positiion. Could he not find work as a butler? Many of my friends say that they are having a terrible time finding a butler. I imagine the situation is similar in England. It was not always so over here. Before the Revolution 20% of the male population of France were butlers, or so I have been told. Your father could easily find work here. My friends would love to have an English butler.
This Dave Roberts sounds like a scoundrel. It is a shame you have no brothers to fight him for the honour of your family. I would willingly challenge the blaggard were I a member of your family. Have you no male cousins who could teach a lesson to this varlet? My blood runs hot when I think of how he toys with your dear sister's affections. I must admit that I shed a few tears when I read of your sister's plight but my sadness turned to anger when the dark image of Dave Roberts entered my mind. He is not a gentleman.
You say that Sharon's boyfriend, Keith, cleans windows. We could do with him here. Ours have not been done for three months and they are filthy. A man comes four times a year to clean them and he is due soon, thank goodness. It takes him three days to clean them but he does a good job. Keith also fixes cars? With these two skills alone I see no reason why he should not be able to afford to marry. Each of us here has a car and this means seven of them but there is always one in the garage being repaired.
Being in regression therapy does not seem to have impaired Jacques' driving skills but we have taken his car keys away. He could drive hundreds of kilometres with no problem but then he would not know where he was. He could not read the signs or ask for directions. Luckily, he always has his identification on him and we have sometimes been called to come and fetch him. After this happened a few times we took the keys away. He still gets into the driver's seat , grips the wheel, changes gear and makes engine noises in his throat but he goes nowhere. He does not seem to mind. I suspect that he thinks he is driving.
I must stop now as I can see the postman coming up the drive and he will take this letter. I hope very much to hear from you again, and soon.
With high regards,
P.S. I have noticed that your address is Beach Street and yet I have looked on the map and the only Brineham I can find in Essex is more than one hundred miles from the sea. Is it possibly named after someone called Beach?
13 Beach Street
Thanks for your smashing letter. I read it six times already and I havent had breakfast yet. I'm not really hungry and anyway I need to lose weight. I think I will give it a miss this morning.
When I told Kirsty about what you would do to Dave Roberts she went mental. She said she didnt want her private matters broadcast all over the world and anyway she said that Dave Roberts would make mincemeat out of you. He used to be a wrestler and then he was a scrap metal dealer but now he runs a club. Thats what he calls it but it is just a glorified stip joint. He wants Kirsty to work there. So I said that you would fight him and his two minders with one arm tied behind your back and she said she'd tell Dave but I don't think she will because he gets very angry when someone threatens him and he starts breaking things. She don't like to get him angry. Once he broke her arm because she wore a dress that he told her not to. He apologised after and bought her a huge bunch of flowers but the damage was done.
I told Sharons Keith about you only being able to get a window cleaner four times a year and he said he didnt know there were so many windows in France. He told his mate and now they are thinking of going into Europe and not just France either. Keiths mate said that he could do France while Keith did Germany or one of the other countries. Keith said that he wanted to do France because he knows someone who knows someone there. Thats me. His mate said that they could both do France. He said that Keith could take the houses on the left hand side of the street and he would do the right hand side. Theyre really serious. Theyre going to find out where you gets passports and Keith is thinking about learning French.
Sharon hates me for telling Keith about it. She don't trust him and said that she wants him where she can see him and she won't be able to keep an eye on him if he's off cleaning windows in France. She says he needs her to keep him on the straight and narrow. I've heard things about him and told her that she can't keep him on the straight and narrow in England let alone France. Everybody knows about him and Margie Bowhay at the skittles evening. Everyone except Sharon that is. Margie wasnt looking for change for the juke box in Keiths trouser pocket if you catch my drift. Sharon believes everything he tells her.
I'm still doing alterations to clothes. Mostly taking up dresses and trousers. Sometimes I gets to do some hemming but thats about it. Mostly its for friends and neighbours so I don't charge them much. I wonders sometimes if I really wants to be a fashion designer. Sometimes I thinks I'd really like to be a journalist on a fashion magazine or something like that. I wouldnt mind being a secretary to start with. There are lots of things I think I could be good at.
I think its really interesting about your brother Jacques. My gran was a bit like that or even worse. She's in a nursing home now because she needs 24 hour a day care. Someone visits her every day and cleans her dentures because she cant do it herself and only wants one of the family to do it. I dont mind visiting her but I hates brushing her false teeth and I wears rubber gloves when I does it. We brings her round here on Sundays but I dont think she knows where she is. Dad fetches her in the car. She likes going in cars and dont want to get out when she gets here. Last week Dad and Fred the next door neighbour had to pull her out of the car and carry her into the house. She may be old but she's very strong and it wasnt easy. I thought they was going to drop her. We gives her a drink of brandy and she sleeps in front of the telly all afternnoon and then we takes her back.
You forgot to tell me if you got a telly. If you dont tell me then I'll take it that you don't have one. I know somebody in this street who really don't have one but thats a religious thing. Some people round here do have one but says they don't because they don't want to pay the licence.
When I am writing to you I feels like I am talking to you. I wonder what your voice sounds like. If you speaks like you writes you must have a really posh voice.
I got to alter some curtains so I will stop now. Please write soon.
P.S. Your right about Brineham being a long way from the sea but when our street was made they planted lots of beech trees on both sides but whoever made the signs spelled beech wrong but its stuck ever since and anyway all the trees got stolen or chopped down so it don't really matter anyway.
Jules lablagues xx
Thank you for your letter and the copy of the T.V. Times. I will read it cover to cover. In answer to your question, yes, we do have a television but my brother Pierre fixed it last week and it no longer works. I think he has taken a piece out to use on one of his model aeroplanes. He is always doing things like that. Many of the machines in the house do not work since he fixed them. At the moment he is building a very large aeroplane which he says will be powerful enought to carry a man. Jacques has already agreed to test it when it is finished but I am not so sure he knows what he has agreed to. We will not let him, of course. We learned our lesson when Pierre built the jet-powered skate board and Jacques came back with wind-burns on his face and all his hair was fallen out. Luckily, it ran out of fuel just three kilometres from the house or I hate to think of the possible consequences. You can still see black marks on the road.
There has always been a friendly sibling rivalry between the two brothers. When Pierre was just four years old he played a game where he would hide the two year old Jacques somewhere in the grounds and the family would have to find him. He was very good at it, for his age. Sometimes it would take several hours to find Jacques and even then it was only when his crying was heard. Once, about midnight, Pierre had to be bribed with a huge amount of money to reveal where Jacques was hidden. They found him tied to a tree with tape across his mouth in a field of cows on a neighbouring farm. They stopped Pierre playing this game when I was born.
Another thing Pierre did was, when nobody was looking, he would pour lots of salt on Jacques' food. At first he refused to eat it but later, when he realised he would be given nothing else, he learned to eat it with pleasure. My mother realised something was wrong when she found Jacques in the kitchen eating salt with a teaspoon. Thats when the truth came out.
There are many stories I could tell you of Pierre's friendly teasing. Jacques adores his big brother and would do anything for him.
It was interesting to read about your gran. My grandmother would probably be better off in a nursing home with people of her own age (she is 93) but my mother insists on her staying with us. We have to watch her all the time. The poor woman has lost her memory and has to be constantly reminded of things. She does not remember where the toilet is and when we help her locate it she cannot remember where the living-room is. Each time she sees me she asks me who I am. When she asks Pierre, he gives a different name each time. He plays a game where he goes in and out of the room where she is sitting, again and again, and each time gives a different name. The first time he says his real name then, after leaving the room for a moment, he comes back in and in answer to her query says that he is Louis the Fourteenth and then Joan of Arc and then Charles de Gaulle. Each time, my gradmother nods her head and says, "Ah yes. I remember you now." Pierre frequently does this when we have visitors and causes a lot of laughter.
We have to control what my grandmother eats as, with no memory, she cannot remember what she has already eaten. She consumes all that is placed before her but, as she is already a very large woman, we have to limit her to three meals a day. Once, a visitor, who did not know about the necessary constraints we place on my grandmother's eating, found her alone in the dining-room one morning. We allow her only four slices of bread for breakfast and hide the rest away but the visitor did not know this. He saw that her plate was empty, found the day's bread supply and put them on the table. Soon afterwards he left the room. An hour later he returned to find that she had eaten three and a half loaves of bread. He told this to my mother and she moaned that she would have to drive to the baker and buy more bread. Surprisingly, my grandmother ate a very hearty lunch that day.
This Dave Roberts seems like a very nasty type of fellow. He broke your sister's arm? I would like to break his neck. Were someone to harm either of my two sisters my fury would know no bounds. On the subject of sisters, Odile has completed her study of the Kelpi religion and has started on a new one. She is now an adherent of the Muldah faith, (another Indian one, there are thousands) and for this she has to remain awake for a week at a time and then sleep for a week. She started four days ago and she has not slept at all since. She seems to be a little confused. It is not only the lack of sleep but also the diet of raw lentils and boiled water that gives a strained look to her face. She has not been to the toilet for three days and I worry about her.
I have completed the first five thousand words of my thesis on Shakespeare: To be or not to be: Shakespeare as an early existentialist. Only another ninety-five thousand to go.
Now you know a little about my family. We are fairly ordinary and I cannot imagine it interests you very much. I will try to make my next letter more interesting. I look forward to hearing from you and wait impatiently each day for the postman.
With warm feelings,
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