Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 16)
Jules Lablagues xx
Ma tres chere Julie,
Had I but Shakespeare's way with words then I could describe the joy I feel but, alas, I find myself to be totally incompetent and incapable of capturing the essence of my emotions and sharing it with you, my very dearest, sweet Julie. I experience the highest states of elation when I contemplate meeting you and I am so happy you wish to meet me. When I suggested that maybe we should wait a year longer it was my head talking; my heart said, 'tomorrow is not too soon.'
You must stop worrying. Everything will be fine. Life at my cousins' house passes at a sedate pace and you will have time to relax and take things a little easier than you have done of late. If the making of the dress puzzles you, Jacqueline suggests that you bring whatever you have done with you and together you will finish it. That is possibly the best solution. Jacqueline is surprised that in England the young ladies are not taught the rudiments of dressmaking in school along with music, painting and writing poetry. She considers it a fine art and to be compared to portarit painting where the model is a figment of the imagination.
I do not consider it strange that, at the tender age of 23, you have kissed only two boys. You are young and time is on your side. I am happy that you are able to balance the dictates of both your heart and mind. It is this I most admire in you. For myself, I would not dream of kissing a girl until I was sure, in both my heart and head, that she too wished to kiss me. I have, in fact, never kissed a girl and, although I am 27 years old, I do not consider this to be abnormal in any way. Kissing, for me, is not a hobby or a pastime; it is the seal on a relationship which has been allowed to grow steadily and slowly. It is the flowering of the bud in the spring after a winter of gestation. I like to think that the first girl I kiss will be the one I share my life with; the woman who will eventually become my wife. For this woman I am willing to wait for ever.
I was very sad to hear about the pains in your back. If you were but here my sister, Odile, would massage away the aches. Over the past week or so she has been a devotee of the Khorba faith from California whose mantra is, 'The Massage is the Message'. One has to practice self-massage for several hours a day. At first, Odile was only able to massage about 60% of her total body area but, already now, after just seven days, she has increased that by a good two per cent. The ultimate aim, of course, is to be able to massage every single sinew, gristle and muscle in the whole body and only then will Odile attain Nirvana. When she has attained Nirvana she has to go to a place in California where she will meet the leader of the religion and he will give her further instructions.
Jacques is progressing very well. He has learned how to ride a bike and gets angry with us if we offer to cut up his meat. He is very happy. I have never seen him like this. He was always a very sad person and it has often been said that he emerged from the womb with tears in his eyes. Pierre's cruel teasing did nothing to help and neither did my mother's outright rejection of him. Pierre was always her favourite and could do no wrong in her eyes. She ignored, rather than rejected, Jacques and, being naturally sensitive, he felt it very sharply. Nobody has ever understood why she behaved in this way towards him but there are rumours that he was conceived against her will after my father had drunk a whole bottle of Pastis. This might explain why she will not allow fennel or anything else smelling of aniseed into the house.
Pierre has still not broken the sound barrier. He needs to spin much faster than he had at first calculated. I suggested that if he made the guide wire longer, the circumference would be greater and he would not have to spin so quickly but he said that the rules do not allow it. I asked him who made the rules and he said that he would beat me if I bothered him any further. He made a contraption that floats on a cushion of air and is capable of spinning more than fast enough. He wants Jacques to stand on this while he tests it because Jacques is the same weight and build as himself. Pierre has told him that he will be strapped firmly by the feet and ankles and there would be no danger but Jacques uttered a French expression which I cannot repeat and ran off to play on the swings. Pierre is very surprised at Jacques' new, assertive attitude and does not quite know how to deal with it. It is rather like living with a stranger you have known all your life. He was always so passive and accepted his fate so readily but now there is a danger of him becoming a bully. None of us would wish this, least of all Pierre, and we hope we can direct his energies into more positive channels. It is still hard to believe he will one day be a fully qualified, practising psychiatrist. He has never worked as a doctor. He merely passed all the examinations and it is hard to think of him talking to complete strangers about their problems. Right now he is more interested in climbing trees and seeing how fast he can run around the outside of the house. He runs everywhere.
In your letter you comment on how much time I spend in the kitchen and it is true that I do spend a lot of time there. Cooking is not just a hobby for me, it is a passion. I am drawn to the kitchen like a lover to his lady. I am inspired by the sight of raw vegetables, fresh meat, herbs and spices; all thingsa culinary. It is a pleasure like no other to transform these base ingredients into a gastronomic experience and present it for my family. The reward is great when I witness their enjoyment. Sometimes not a word is said for the first twenty minutes of the meal and the only sound is contented sighing. Then I know that I have been successful. At my cousins' house you must join me in the kitchen and I will teach you the five basic sauces on which all others are based. I will show you how to roast, boil, grill, fry and a dozen other methods of cooking. I will introduce you to the subtle use of herbs and to the contrasting and complementing of different flavours. It will be a pleasure for me to show you these things.
I must go now but you are always in my thoughts,
With great affection,
13 Beach Street
My beloved Jules,
I feels a bit wicked doing this and I hope you dont mind me writing darling and dearest and things like that. I just cant write dear Jules anymore because it seems so cold and unfriendly. Your more than just dear to me. I cant believe what you wrote in your letter about how eager you are to meet me. I dont understand it. I'm just ordinary Julie Sanders from Brineham in Essex and I'm nothing special but you makes me feel like I'm someone I should be proud of. Even if you dont like me when you meets me promise you wont show it. If you looks disappointed your going to break my heart and nows not the right time for that because I'm feeling really sensitive. My nerves is completely on edge and I walks around in a bit of a daze most of the time. So much is happening to me and I'm not used to it. Sometimes I wishes that it was a year ago and all I had to think about was alterations and what was on the telly and I thinks how nice it was then but then again sometimes I feels so happy that I wouldnt change now for anytime. Most of the time I thinks about wearing your cousins dresses and I hopes they fits me because I dont think they'd let me alter them.
All the redundency money my dad got is gone almost. My mum found out about it yesterday when she saw the bank statement by accident. I've never seen her so angry. She banged him on the head with her fists and screamed really loud and it went on for the longest time. Fred the neighbour came knocking because he thought someone was dying or dead. My dad didnt just drink it away although he's been pretty much drunk all the time for months but he's been doing the horses and gambling on other things as well like the lottery. My mum cried and cried while my dad said that he was only doing what he thought was the best for her because if he'd been lucky and won the lottery then she'd never have anything to worry about ever again. She said that if he was just as stupid with the lottery winnings then he'd soon be broke again and she said that money was the least of her worries and she had three grown up daughters who looked like they would never leave home. Sharon and Kirsty was there and we looked at each other and Sharon started crying first and then me and Kirsty joined in so there was my mum screaming and us three girls crying our eyes out and my dad just sitting there saying he wanted to watch the telly in peace and quiet. Thats when the police came. I think Fred called them and my dad let them in and they stayed for about an hour asking us questions and drinking tea. They knew Kirsty from Daves club and they tried to get her to tell them what he was up to and she said she didnt know nothing about his business dealings. They told her that if she knew what was best for her she would stay away from Dave and especially next Friday night and then they winked. The first thing Kirsty done when they was gone was to go and tell Dave about it. He gave her some money quite a bit and told her to buy something nice for herself but she gave it to my mum to make up for my dad spending all the redundency money. I can undertand why my mum was so angry because she said that the money was there for when we got married to pay for the receptions and things. She said that the brides family got to pay for that and right now we couldnt afford to buy them fish and chips. She's calmed down today and things are back to normal except my dads not allowed to go to the pub or even drink anything. My mum says that if he takes just one drink she's going to leave him and go and live with her sister and never come back and I think she means it. She's got her suitcase packed by the front door and in a funny way its like she wants my dad to have a drink so she can leave. My dads in a terrible state today. He looks really scared and his hands are shaking like he was freezing cold. Theyre shaking so much that he cant lift a glass of water without spilling most of it so my mum gave him a straw and one of us has to fill up the glass when its empty because he cant do it himself. He just sits at the kitchen table with these really staring eyes and he scares me a bit. I told him to go to the doctor but its like he dont hear me. He hasnt spoke a word all day. I put two blankets around him and he was still shaking. Its very worrying.
I thinks its really sweet that you never kissed a girl. Round here where I lives you see twelve and thirteen year olds snogging in the bus shelters with all their clothes undone. Theres lots of fifteen year old parents and its just a game to them. We got lots of grandparents in their early thirties and they dont look like grandparents. Theres one girl whose fourteen and she's living with a fifty two year old bloke and she dont go to school and nothings done about it. Her parents have washed their hands of her. Call me old faashioned if you like but I dont agree with all the sex on telly and in the newpapers and theyre even teaching it in schools nowadays. And theres drugs as well and they starts on that when theyre ten or eleven and sometimes younger. They says its because theyre bored with nothing to do but there was nothing for me to do when I was their age and I didnt even think about sex or drugs. I just put up with being bored and just got on with things. I dont think I could really enjoy kissing someone proper unless I was really in love. I'm really curious to know what it feels like and I bet its really nice but I can wait as long as I have to for the right person.
I think I might have already messed up the dress but I will bring whatever is finished to your cousins house. Its really kind of the Comtesse Jacqueline de Montfort to offer to help but I wont be able to pay her anything because I'm a bit short at the moment because theyre checking my benefits as they found out about me doing alterations. I got to go to the social security office to talk to them about it on Wednesday. They've stopped my benefits until they talks to me. My mum says she can let me have a bit of money but I shouldnt tell my dad about it. I hardly made any money doing alterations but they said I could go to prison for fraud. I think theyre trying to scare me for some reason but I will find out about it on Wednesday.
Its really nice of you offering to teach me to cook and I'd really like that but what I really wants is to just learn ordinary things like roast chickens and stuff and not frogs and snails and stuff like pheasants although I'm sure they tastes good if you likes that sort of thing. I wouldnt have no use for that sort of thing. I dont think you could get English kids to eat it and it would be a waste of time doing it. If you could show me how to get cakes to rise as well it would be really nice. The few times I done one they stayed as flat as a pancake and were really heavy but as I told you we ate them anyway.
Its really nice to be making plans and if I'm going to be doing cooking I better pack a couple of aprons. I wish the time would go quicker.
With lots of love
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