My father is fond of writing letters to his congressman. He is also in the Tea Party. He is one of those kind of retired people, the kind with just a little bit too much money, bitterness, and time on their hands. In other words, nothing like me.
Or is he? Lately I have noticed my predilection for writing letters, not to my congressman or MP but to newspapers and magazines. I am embarrassed to admit that I can count six semi-recent occasions on which I have taken the time to submit my thoughts, compliments, or complaints to various editors and columnists. How this has happened when I have trouble finding time to get cash, buy milk, and do the laundry is a mystery to me. For my efforts I have been variously published, graciously replied to, and ignored. I like to think that I am part of the reason that Small Talk, the author interview in the Weekend FT, has returned (although it’s just as likely it was simply on an August hiatus), or that one day the columnist from the same paper, Mrs. Moneypenny, may just read this blog and, bowled over by its superiority, hand over her column to me. In other words, I am slightly delusional. Just like someone else I know…
On Saturday we went to the summer fete in the village where we first rented a cottage in the Cotswolds. Dorothy was on duty collecting the £1 entrance fee. She’s getting a bit forgetful (she tried to get me to pay twice!) but she can still add up your bill in her head when you buy supplies from her at the village shop she runs most days. Jean was also there, busy judging the various dog classes, my favourite of which was “dog with the waggiest tail.” There were way more ribbons on offer than dogs in the village.
On Sunday we went back to the village for church. Jean was on duty again, this time as a lay minister leading matins. Dorothy was there too and led a prayer that covered victims of friendly fire in Afghanistan, knife crime in London, and, of course, the Queen (“an inspiration”).
These two older ladies (Dorothy is 80, Jean 60+) make up over twenty percent of the normal Sunday congregation in addition to their myriad of other civic duties. It makes me wonder what will happen when they are gone. There is the younger Chris, who is the local post-mistress (until her post office closes later this summer and she becomes solely a shop-mistress) and was on duty at the fete dispensing tea and cakes.
Another country lady who caught my attention this week was Mrs. Moneypenny, a columnist in the Weekend FT. Her Sunday piece was essentially a retelling of an evening at a country house where Mrs. Moneypenny got very pissed and passed out on the bathroom floor – not what I’d expect to read from a very successful businesswoman with three kids (her cost centres as she calls them) and a husband, although I was highly amused. After three years away from the puritanical bonds of the United States, I am still taken aback at the friendly ease with which tales of excess are thrown about the workplace, or the national media in this case. I remember when I used to do quaint things like hide the fact that I was hungover from my boss.