Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 7)
Jules Lablagues xx
My dearest Julie,
How happy I was to get your letter. It was like the sun bursting through the clouds on a grey day. You write so vividly I can picture myself by your side seeing all that you see and hearing all that you hear. I can almost smell the kippers frying in your kitchen.
It was extremely interesting to hear about your sponsored silence. I thought I would try the experience myself and told my family of my intentions. I found it very difficult and, at times, spoke for twenty minutes or more without realising that I was speaking. Odile, my sister, finds it easy not to speak and once did not say a word for ten days. She had four more to go when she stopped. Her religion demanded a two week speech fast as the first of a thousand steps to enlightenment. Each step would be more difficult than the one before so I dread to think what number 900 would be like.
As for Jacques, he is still being bottle-fed and his mentor still sits by his cot taking notes for most of the day. Although I know it is not possible, Jacques seems to be shrinking and appears to take up less room than he actually does. He no longer moves and we have to turn him over regularly to ensure he does not get bed sores. There is a machine to monitor his heart beat and he seems fit and well.
Genevieve still spends her days painting and only leaves her room for meals. We are now forbidden to enter her room which she keeps locked at all times. A canvas was delivered a few weeks ago measuring about three metres square. It was set up in her room and I have not seen it since. When I asked her what she was doing she said that it was to be her last painting. I asked to see it and she said I could when it was finished. When I asked when that would be she said 'never'. It is very mysterious. I will never understand her.
Pierre won the French national championship for model aeroplanes and broke the French speed record at the same time.
Jacqueline has many admirers but no steady boyfriend. She told me once that no man she met matched up to me but I do not know what she means. There are some fine eligible men around and she could have her pick but she shows little interest. She says that as long as she has me for a friend she needs nobody else. That is a great compliment but I told her she must not place so much reliance on me. She started crying then and buried her head in the pillow. I hugged and comforted her and reassured her that I would always be her friend but she was inconsolable. She was still sobbing quietly to herself when I fell asleep. The next morning she was fine and rolled enthusiastically in the morning dew with the rest of us.
I still think that Dave Roberts sounds like a dangerous character and Kirsty should be very careful. There is no knowing what the man would do if he found out about Mike Norris. Could she not find a young man with no prior attachments?
It was my mother's birthday yesterday and everybody treated her with increased kindness. She does not have an easy life, looking after such a large house, and so it is good that, now and again, we compel her to relax and take it easy. She only went shopping four times yesterday and the last time was unnecessary as we already had three cartons of salt in the cupboard but my mother, fearing a world salt shortage, of which she had heard on the radio, felt impelled to buy three more cartons. I admire her forethought but wonder if we really need six kilograms of salt. We still have more than fifty tins of anchovies gathering dust from the time my mother heard that they were an endangered species and bought all she could find.
My thesis is not going as well as I expected. I sit regulary, on a daily basis, at my desk and re-read the five thousand words I have completed but I find no way forward. I seem to have said all I wish to say on the subject of Shakespeare as an early existentialist. Not an idea or a thought enters my mind and there is, unfortunately, nobody here with whom I am able to debate the matter. I used to be able to talk to my sisters but one has become a virtual recluse and the other is preparing for the end of the world, which is due on Friday, about 3p.m. and has no time to discuss questions of meaning or the reality of existence. She is convinced she has only three days left to live and is busily cleaning her room. She is preparing a place to be when the end comes. I have asked her how it will come but she is unclear as yet. It could be fire, plague, pestillence or one of a hundred different ways she has listed according to how much she fears them. She is a very strong swimmer so flood does not bother her but she is petrified at the thought of the sun being extinguished. She hates the cold. The leader of the sect which proposes the end of the world was arrested on drug charges but this does not diminish Odile's belief in his prophecy. I worry about her sometimes.
The gardener wishes to discuss some landscaping with me so I must finish. I await your next letter with anticipation.
With warm affection,
13 Beach Street
I got your letter this morning and I am feeling a little bit disturbed. I knows its none of my business but I'm not sure its a good thing with you and the Comtesse Jacqueline de Montfort. It seems a bit abnormal in a way with a full grown woman sharing your bed and telling you that your her ideal man. If I didnt know better I'd say she fancies you. I hope you dont mind me being frank and open with you but I felt i had to say something. All my family always said that it was a bit weird but I defended you and said that you was French and they does things different in France but now I'm beginning to wonder. Its not fair on the Comtesse Jacqueline de Montfort for her to get her hopes up if your not interested. I think you should have a talk with her and make your intentions clear for her sake. As a woman I think that I knows how she feels and if it was me I think I would want to know.
There I've said it and I hope you dont think that I'm interfering. My dad got the job and he was supposed to start two days ago but he hasnt turned up for work yet. He phoned in sick and they told him to come when he was better. He says he's too busy to take a job although I dont know what he calls busy unless going to the pub is keeping busy. I dont know where he gets the money for all his drinking. He's only on benefits. I suspect he's using the redundency money. If mum finds out she'll murder him. Dad says he's going to try to get the doctor to put him on the long-term sick list so he wont have to go and sign on. Going to sign on is the only time he goes anywhere except to the pub and thats only two minutes away on our side of the street.
Dave Roberts found out about Mike Norris and nothing happened. I expected Kirsty to come home with at least one black eye but he didnt do nothing. It seems that Dave is scared of Mike and Mike put the word out that if anyone touched Kirsty he would deal with them proper. The trouble is Kirsty only went out with Mike to make Dave jealous which is a stupid thing to do but now it seems that Mike has fallen for her and thinks she is his girl but Kirsty dont want nothing to do with him. I think that your right that she should drop the pair of them and find somebody her own age but its not so easy as that. Dave and Mike are the ones who do the dropping they dont get dropped. A few girls have dropped them but you dont see them around anymore and nobody knows where theyre gone. Some people says they went to Scotland.
Sometimes I thinks about meeting you and I would really like to meet you but I would be scared to do it. What if we didnt hit it off. That would be terrible because I really likes writing to you and it might change things if we didnt get along together. I dont think that would happen and I'm sure it would go fine but I'm not so sure about your family though. If they dont speak English it will be very difficult to talk to them. If we ever meets and I hope we does some day maybe it would be best to meet in England. I talks to you in my head and we haves long conversations. I wish I could write down what I says to you in my mind but I would be embarrassed. We tells each other everything just like you and the Comtesse Jacqueline de Monfort. I imagines you with a deep voice but it is very gentle and really nice to listen to and you got a French accent.
I got an order for a wedding dress for a girl called Sally whose the daughter of someone mum knows but her familys out of work so they wants it as cheap as possible. I pretended it was cheaper than it was because I knows they dont have much money. Another thing is I didnt realise how expensive material is and the price theyre paying wont even cover the cost of the material. Never mind. I'm going to make her a really nice dress. I dont know if I will ever get married but I suppose I will as just about everyone ends up getting married to someone or other. I have already started designing my dress if I do get married but I changes it all the time. Sometimes theres a bow in front and sometimes on the back and one day its really long and other days its just knee length. I hopes I get to make it for real one day.
You dont say much about Pierre. I'd hardly know he lives with you. Dont you get along with him. Another thing that puzzles me is why are you Jules Lablagues xx when you got two brothers that are older than you are. Surely Pierre should be Jules Lablagues xx or at least thats the way its done in England. When I first saw your name I thought the two xs was kisses and I was very surprised but then I realised that it stood for twentyeth.
I really likes getting your letters and I hopes you writes back soon. Your the first person I ever wrote to because as I told you everyone I knows lives around here and I dont know anyone who has moved away that I could write to. I've sent post cards when I've been somewhere but thats not the same as exchanging letters with someone. I wrote a letter to the newspaper once and they printed it. It was about how fast the traffic drives down our street and that there should be bumps in the road to stop them going so fast but it didnt help at all. Theres still no bumps and the cars still goes just as fast. We got lots of kiddies around here and they got nowhere else to play except in the street and I think they should be allowed to do it. When I was their age our street was just like a playground and there was always dozens of kids playing cricket and football and skipping or hide and seek and now and again you had to get off the road to let a car go by. I sounds like I am really old but it really was like that when I was growing up and that wasnt so long ago. We still got loads and loads of kids living around here but you hardly ever sees them. Its a shame really.
Heres me going on and on about how things used to be. How did things used to be where you lives. My mum wants me to go shopping with her so I'll have to stop now and I'll post it on the way to the shops. Please write back soon.
P.S. According to your sister or whoever she is listening to the world was supposed to end yesterday. I'm glad I didnt know nothing about it because I worries about things like that when people tells me. The religious family that I told you about who dont have a telly that lives down the street got posters up in the windows saying The End Is Nigh but they dont put a date on it. It still worries me a bit though. I suppose your sister must be a bit disappointed about it not happening if she really believed it but anyway she's probably got a nice clean room now to show for it.
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