Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 6)
My dearest Julie,
How very sad I was to read of your distressed state of mind and wished with all my heart I could have been there to comfort you and assure you that you are very mistaken to think that your life is hopeless. You are a young girl with all the time in the world in which to realise your dreams. In the short time I have known you, although we have never met, I feel, in some ways, I know you well. You have impressed me with your 'joie de vivre', your grasp of eternal values and your love for humanity which shines through your letters like a beacon in the distance on a foggy day. It was painful to see you berating yourself and, as for ending up as a lonely old woman, I think you can banish that thought from your mind. I am sure there is a good man somewhere who will recognise you for what you are and shower you with all the love you deserve. My advice to you is not to worry and you must not feel bad about opening your heart to me and revealing your true feelings. What are friends for, and I do consider you to be a true friend. As for your fears that I will consider you stupid and stop writing to you, I can assure you there is nothing further from my mind. I do not think of you as stupid; quite the contrary, I admire your lively intelligence and profound insight and feel sure you criticise yourself unnecessarily.
There has been a crisis in the house. Jacques has re-experienced his moment of birth. This was expected and planned for but what was unforeseen was the time and place of the event. Last weekend we had a dozen visitors to the house and all my time was spent in the kitchen. We sat down to dinner about eight o' clock on Saturday evening. We had finished the consomme and my father had sliced up the haunch of venison at the table. ( I wish he would not insist on doing this as he is so slow the meat is cold before it reaches the plates.) We were helping ourselves to the vegetables ( steamed brocolli, asparagus mornay and Vichy carrots) when Jacques, who was laying peacefully in his cot on the other side of the room suddenly sat up and cried out, "Non. Non. Non. Non." He held his hands in front of him as if protecting himself against some grotesque horror and the look of terror on his face sent chills down my spine.
We all looked up but only my mother moved. She went over to Jacques and put his dummy back into his mouth and then returned to the table. Jacques remained upright, his eyes wide and focused in the distance as though he was witnessing a fast approaching disaster. The others were busily eating so I was the only one who witnessed the moment of my brother's reincarnation. His mouth opened wide, his arms reached out as if to embrace the world and he screamed. I have never heard anything like it. It seemed to last for the longest time but it was probably only a minute. Most of us stopped eating and showed concern but my father told us to ignore him as he was just seeking attention and had to learn that we were not at his beck and call. My mother muttered obscenities at my father and stormed from the table.
When the screaming stopped, Jacques lay down in his cot in a foetus position, put his thumb in his mouth and occasionally kicked his legs or thrashed with his arms. My father said smugly that he had told us so but I think he was highly insensitive to Jacques' needs. We were able to continue the meal uninterrupted but I found that I had lost my appetite. For the past three days Jacques has retained his foetal position and shows no interest in eating. We are afraid he has regressed further than intended and is now back in the womb. We have spoken to his mentor/psychiatrist and he finds it very interesting and thinks there is no need to worry. Jacques will be fed by bottle for as long as this period continues and his mentor has moved into the house so as to be close to Jacques if he regresses so far as to experience his own conception or even further back. He sits by Jacques' cot and makes copious notes.
The mentor is a strange character and, if we did not visit Jacques in his room, we would only see him at meal times and when we roll in the dew. He does not roll with us but sits, fully clothed, on a garden bench and writes frenziedly in his note book. At these times he makes me uneasy. Jacqueline was here this morning and as there had been a fairly severe frost in the night the grass was knife-like but brittle and it was like rolling on a stiff hairbrush. This is how Jacqueline prefers it and she rolled more enthusiastically than I have ever seen her roll before. She laughed with wild abandon and the whole family was enthused with her overflowing energy. The mentor abandoned his notes and sat open-mouthed for a couple of minutes before running into the house. I saw him a moment later looking at us from his bedroom window. I think he is very shy. I believe he would like to join us but is afraid of looking foolish. Five minutes later he returned and sat once more on the bench but after a short while he ran once more into the house where he took up his position at the bedroom window. I think he has difficulty mixing with people and none of us has had a real conversation with him.
I am very sorry to belabour you with my problems but I feel you are the one person who will really understand. Please tell me if it bothers you. I wait impatiently for your next letter.
With great affection,
13 Beach Street
My dearest Jules (you wrote dearest to me so I thought it would be alright for me to write it to you but it feels funny but nice at the same time to be writing dearest to a man I never met. In England you only writes it to your boyfriend or your husband and my mum said I should be careful about you and I said it was because you are French and she said I should be even more careful because the French are known for that.)
Your letter made me feel really nice and I've read it lots of times. You are really kind and I wishes you lived closer so that we could meet and talk about things. I dont know any men I can really talk to about feelings and stuff. The ones I knows only talks about football and robbing things and who they had a fight with and what theyd do if they had piles of money. I went down the pub last night with Sharon and two men tried to pick us up and they kept buying us drinks and they got really shirty when we said we didnt want to go home with them and they called us names that I cant repeat and they were getting really nasty when Dave Roberts turned up and told them to something off. (I cant write what he really said). Well they knows Dave Roberts and his reputation so they left really quick. Everyone knows about his reputation so it was the best thing they could do. Dave was looking for Kirsty and said that when he finds her she's going to be sorry for messing him around. It seems like he told her to meet him somewhere and she didnt turn up.
I knows why she didnt turn up but I wasnt telling Dave. He would kill her if he knew but I can tell you. She went out with Mike Norris who got a club down Lifton Street but he's even older than Dave Roberts and got lots of children. Nobody knows how many but he's got three with Beryl his first wife and two with Joyce his second wife although people says that one of thems not his. He dont live with none of them and sleeps in a room above his club by himself. I've heard stories about his room and warned Kirsty not to go up there but I bet she did. She came back really late.
My dad might have a job. They sent him for an interview and he thinks he might have got it even though he dont really want it. Its in a warehouse where he's got to stack up boxes and things but he says it would drive him mad. He didnt shave or anything when he went for the interview and he didnt put on any special clothes and I know he went to the pub first and had a couple of pints but he thinks he got the job. It would be good for him to get out more and have somewhere to go in the morning. What he does now is get up about nine o clock (except when he's been out drinking the night before and then he gets up in time for lunch but he dont eat anything) and sits reading the paper all morning at the kitchen table then he eats lunch and sits in front of the telly and falls asleep in the afternoon. After tea he either watches telly or goes to the pub. Most evenings he goes to the pub in fact and most days he dont get up until lunch. My mum says that he gets under her feet and he says that is better than being under her thumb. He always says that.
Keith got let off with community service and a suspended sentence. They said that if he got in any more trouble he was looking at serving some time in prison. He's got two brothers in prison so he says he wouldnt mind because its a lot of hassle going to visit them every month and it would save him a lot of time plus the bus fares if they put him away. Sharon said that it might sort him out if he did some time but he shouldnt expect her to visit him. She says she got better things to do with her time. It might be good for her if they put him away because then maybe she'd meet somebody else whose got better propects. Thats what my mum always says that he's got no prospects and I'm beginning to think she's right. He's nearly thirty years old and he's never had a proper job except for a newpaper round when he was a kid.
I was a bit confused about the thing with Jacques. My dad said he sounds like a nutter or else why would he have a psychiatrist. He always says that. Thats why he dont like Americans because they all goes to therapists. My dad says that a week of hard physical graft would cure their problems. My mum says she feels sorry for Jacques but she feels sorry for anyone whose got a problem. She feels sorry for animals as well if they got something wrong with them. My mums like that.
In your last letter you forgot to tell me if the Comtesse Jacqueline de Montfort got a boyfriend. I'm really interested in this so please tell me. With her parties and everything she must meet lots of really interesting people. Its really good of her to do so much for charity. We try to do our bit and last week I took part in a sponsored silence. What you had to do was get sponsored for how long you could go without speaking and when you was asleep dont count. If you spoke you had to put some of your own money in the box so I was really careful not to say anything but then you could carry on. Everyone in my family took part except my dad and he tried to trick us into speaking so we would have to give some money. We all lasted until nine in the evening but I only had three people sponsoring me so I didnt raise much money and in fact I had to pay more myself when I spoke by accident than I actually raised. You should have heard us when we started talking again. It was like being in the parrot section at the zoo.
You said in one of your letters that you thought my hair was a beautiful colour and thats a really nice thing to say but its not really. I wish I had Sharons hair. Its a really lovely colour and really thick and she can do anything she likes with it. If you saw my hair in real life youd see that its nothing like in the photo. In the picture it looks darker than it is. Is the colour of a girls hair really important to you. I know that some men prefer blondes to brunettes.
I am going to finish now. I hope Jacques is feeling better. Give my good wishes to your family.
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