Thursday, September 3


Had the same breakfast as yesterday. I fear a pattern is developing. Freda began a familiar story telling rant and AntHony said, “Shut up and eat your food Freda.” She seemed amused and obeyed. I sense there might be a little love interest afoot. Sat next to Diane.  She is so neat and tidy.  I feel like a bridge troll next to her.  We talked about clothes and she sews her own little skirts, which are floral and perfectly paired with matching sweaters. They are hemmed exactly to the knee and AntHony approves. He ranted about some lady at his coffee shop who is old and dresses like a hooker.  I love his disdain. He then went on again about the art colony he established and said he doesn’t like to sell his art there lest the others suffer. Hehehe.  Oh AntHony.  He also told us he can sing like Elvis and gave us a whispery redition of Blue Suede Shoes which was enjoyed by all, but especially by AntHony.  Chrissy is dressed in awesome billowy cotton all the time.  I like her.  She looks like an artist. 

We went to some town and painted all day.  Of course, it was a slow start and once there, everyone sat down for coffee.  WE JUST HAD COFFEE!  I couldn’t bear it, so I wandered around the galleries and came upon our substitute teacher Tony’s work, which was beautiful and delicate. After a long demonstration, Chris left early for opera rehearsal. He's a good painter and I like his teaching style.  I just cannot bear the demonstrations in 100 degree weather. It seems we only paint in places with countless stairs.

Finally, we got to it. I wanted to paint a bell, but Tony said it would be a waste to not paint the glorious surroundings.  I conceded defeat and included the whole damn tower and some houses.  I had to scale a little wall and paint on a slant all day, but I got lost in bricks and mortar  quickly and painted through lunch.  I chose this scene in part so no one could hover around me and I enjoy a good chunk of shut up in my day.  I saw Freda above considering the wall and was glad she did not make the attempt. The time flew and in an instant it was 5 and time to go.  I don’t like the painting at all and will not fall prey to peer pressure again.

Jane did a great scene as did Diane and AntHony.  I can tell these people are all quintessential landscapers.  I am not.  I would have liked to paint Tony’s face. He is dark and has an engaging smile that cuts across his face like the Cheshire cat's.

There was a great little garden below where I would have loved to have drawn the gnarled vines of watermelons and beans, but, alas, it was out of bounds.  It would have made an excellent place to toss a body.

At the end of class we lined our paintings against the stone wall and admired ourselves.  The ladies from the town both do good work. Lucinda and another Diane I think.  Diana is a studious painter and today her work was beautiful.  Jane is much better than she thinks and chose a perfect view.

While everyone disappeared down the hill, Tony and I were left to lug the remaining equipment.  It was a nice walk and we talked about his life in Italy, his art and his family. A very charming man indeed.

At the bottom, Jane, Diana, Chrissy and I popped into the pub and had a round of cold draft on the patio.  Like everything else so far, it involved much debate as to whether we were allowed or not.  The obedience of these people is amazing. I am tempted to organize a coo as it seems we we are only allowed to dabble in fun.  We had to rush back lest Kris or Chris wonder what happened to us.  Again I am 5 years old being led around on a rope.

I am back on my bench feeling a little sad and a little pissed, waiting for my center of gravity to return.  If there was a bus out of here, I would be on it. 

This is how it went down; A very seemingly happy little troupe boarded the bus homeward bound after a lovely day of painting.  AntHony was in top form and suggested I move one of my three asses over so we could all fit in the seat.  This does not offend me, because AntHony and I have developed a very fun banter. And to his credit, my ass does spead out like a small family.  He has taken some bossy little role and I enjoy my usual role as loud mouthed brat.  Jane, Chrissy and Diana all seem to get on with it and chime in more each day. 

So there we were, laughing and carrying on about who knows what, when little miss Freda, perched between AntHony and I like a pissy little bird, turns to me and says “Would you just shut up?” “It would be a courtesy to the others”  Yes Freda, I will shut up.  I appreciate that you are old and I am loud and this is a small van.   Jane was behind me squeezing my shoulder in morris code for “are you okay?”  Yes Jane, I am fine.  Chrissy’s head spun round like Linda Blairs to send daggers into the back seat.  Likewise, Diane was speaking volumes in silence laced with arsenic. These acts of solidarity both surprised and comforted me.  I can’t remember what AntHony was doing.  He was probably talking about China, oblivious to it all.  So I did shut up, but Freda did not.  She went on and on and on and on and on and on about it until we rolled into the asylum. 

Every night we are expected for cocktail hour, and so far, it has always been the same cocktail. I have no idea what it is, but there are bits of something in it and I can’t stand it.  I spilled mine the other night only to have it reappear.  I shall try to dodge cocktail hour as often as possible. Tonight we heard tales from Freda about her career as a dancer and her regal home. Thank God for Pinocchio. Whenever I am bored, I float off to the idea of romping through Pinocchio Park.  I do a lot of romping during cocktail hour.

These British folks are all atheists.  I wonder why, but really I don’t care why.  Ironically, Jane is forever blessing me.  Clearly I am in dire need of absolution.

 I asked Mr. Architect to design my grotto.  He said no. Later everyone talked about his or her homes and they all sound lovely.  AntHony’s sounded more decadent than Freda’s and when I asked how that could be, he answered it was because he is richer than me. I will take that bet. 

I asked about having a fire and Kris made it very clear that fires only happen on Thursdays pizza night, which is cancelled this week due to opera rehearsal.  This opera has become a pain in my giant ass.  I argued that we could have a fire with no pizza and it seemed to set her into a dizz so I left it alone.  I fear this is a creature of habit and does not like to deviate from the agenda. Chrissy apparently set some big place on fire as a child, so perhaps we will just torch the asylum next time mom and dad go out.

Dinner of gruel was more of the same.  Sadly after sitting in bored silence for the better part of another meatless meal, I decided to let it go and start yapping at AntHony. Freda seems unaware  that once she starts talking, there is no end in sight and what seemed charming in the beginning is now a relentless repetitive drone I cannot bear.  If anyone dares to start another conversation (heaven forbid there should be more than one), Freda gets offended. So when I began talking to  AntHony, not only did I get a pinch on the arm but a sound "NANCY! DON'T INTERRUPT ME!"

Patience is not my strong suit, but nor is cruelty, so I shut up for a bit, waited for her to take a breath and resumed chatter with AntHony.  The little bird chimed in and without warning,  I heard myself scold Miss Freda when she interrupted our nonsense.  I can’t remember what I said, something like “Freda PLEASE don’t interrupt me!” I know I made everyone uncomfortable, but Chrissy chuckled and held my gaze as if to say "Well done."  I felt bad instantly and cared less even sooner. I give Freda a very long rope due to her age.  If she were my age and we were on even footing, I would have devoured her.  Everyone went off to bed at some ridiculously early hour, and  I was not at all disappointed to find myself alone on the bench again with you.  Diaries are wonderful.  I get to write you forever sympathetic and forgiving.  I make you justify every stupid and glorious thing I ever do, and this, my friend, is why I adore you.  You are always completely correct. ;)

I have to do my laundry.  The fact that I wrote that means I am returning to normal.  I like Maria the Italian cook. She pretends to not understand English and AntHony is hell bent on teaching her.  He is such a control freak and she plays him marvellously. The woman knows exactly what is going on.  I should ask if we will ever eat meat here.  I feel like I am on a cleanse. 

That’s enough bitching for now, I feel purged by the writing and ready to start tomorrow with a big giant smile and much hope for the rest of the week.  I will try not to talk much, and that sucks, but when in Britain.