Monday 22 October 2018


Oh, for the days I blogged for others not for myself. Auntie Seraphic was a lot more cheerful and fun than Mrs McLean, we must admit. Probably more interesting, too. On Saturday evening I began reading a wonderful little book by the Venerable Fulton Sheen, and he said that the beginning of Inner Peace was not talking about yourself.

Let us meditate on that, but also on mirrors, for today I was thinking about the faces my mirrors have reflected. Not mine. My face I have taken with me to St. Benedict Over the Apple Tree, but alas the mirrors that have reflected more beautiful and younger faces I have had to leave behind.

Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, but moving when you didn't want to move is even worse. Although my rational brain knows we didn't leave because of an invading army or natural disaster, my reptile brain doesn't seem to know that. Today I told myself it wasn't like the Highland Clearances until I realised that it was exactly like the Highland Clearnaces in that the wicked landlords had a legal right to shove the poor peasants off the land.

The poor Highlanders took what they could carry and watched the rest go up in flames. The poor McLeans are taking what will fit in their two-bedroom walk-up and slowly divesting themselves of everything else. Two pieces of furniture of which I am (despite becoming minimalist) still very fond are my 1930s vanity table and the ornate mirrored set of drawers on the landing, and neither of them will fit in S-BOAT, so I must say good-bye, not only to them but to the memories they evoke.

Both the vanity and the "hall table," as we imprecisely called the ornate, barley-twisted thing, remind me of wonderful dinner parties and weekends or full weeks with out-of-town guests. The hall table was one of the first things guests would see when they got to the top of the stone staircase. Men would put their hats and scarves on it, and the ones who cared checked their pomaded hair in the mirror. My mother and I, at 40-odd and 60-odd, once contemplated our ageing selves in it, and I saw my grandfather looking out from both of our faces, which was rather disconcerting.

The vanity table was useful for the ladies, usually pretty young ladies, staying in the best guest room. It was a rather feminine and dainty little room before the Deluge changed our lives, and now it has the porcelain wreckage of our destroyed bathroom strewn all over the now carpet-less floor. Sometimes, mid-dinner party, I would woozily reapply my lipstick behind the shut door, and hear the Bass (who has a heavy tread) tromp along the hall from the dining-room to whatever bottle awaited him in the sitting-room.

The Historical House is too well-kept to be a haunted house, and I hope and pray none of its occupants or guests are ever reduced to earth-bound spectres. However, it would be jolly if the noise of one of our dinner parties somehow soaked into the walls and oozed out again every once in awhile so that, were anyone standing at the bottom of the correct staircase at midnight, we would again be audible. Great bursts of guffaws and giggles would be optimal, but I would settle for the Bass's tromp-tromp-tromp to the sitting-room, which would scare the living daylights out of anyone at 10 PM at night in an empty manor house.

Another jolly haunting would be if the reflection of one (or all of) our pretty young guests popped out  from the vanity table mirror once in awhile. Some poor student would be innocently gluing on her fake eyelashes when all of a sudden there Polish Pretend Daughter's face would be beside the student's face in the mirror. If you don't want to be this student, try not to buy a vanity table from and Edinburgh Bethany Shop in the next few months, that's what I advise.

And now I shall write about the excellence of chickens.


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