Going to bed.

The night-nurse

The night-nurse

If getting up is hard, going to bed isn’t much easier. There’s always that last sip of wine to finish, or more likely, the dishes are waiting! It’s so depressing getting up early facing a sink-full of cold dirty used dish-water with odds and ends of onions or cabbage floating around and spoons and forks barely visible at the bottom.

We have given up on the dishwasher. Bending down loading and picking up dishes is more work than just washing it all by hand. Apart from the work, the machine has to go through a noisy cycle with washing, rinsing and then drying, it’s another one of those electric things which hasn’t really put more time in my pocket. Of course, at our age, time is not so much of the essence anymore. When families were large with lots of kids, that’s when a dishwasher could be handy. I mean with just two cups, two plates and some cutlery, how much does it take to do the washing up?

If the book is any good, it means goodbye to a quick sleep as well. Reading before sleeping is a law onto its own in this household. Sleep has become secondary. I am reading a book about a man having suffered a major stroke. The wife at first visits her husband in hospital. There is not a lot of communication. After a while she only visits him sporadically. He seems not to really recognize her much. The wife comes to the startling conclusion she is actually happier without him moping around the house.

His stroke is liberating her from a stifling sour marriage. He was a good husband and terrific provider having his own law-firm and staff, including a secretary and junior solicitors. He was always a stickler for precision and routine. At Christmas time just before his stroke he gets terribly upset when his son, who promised to spend time with his parents at Christmas time, doesn’t turn up. Not even a phone call. The husband seems unable to cope with it and keeps churning the issue around.

The wife is very understanding. Why would a young man spend time with parents at Christmas time, she argues? He cannot accept that and sees the son as being very uncommitted to his promises. ” He will never make a good lawyer”, he says and frets over this till he gets his stroke.

An added complication is the husband having scribbled on his hospital slate that the nigh-nurse masturbates while sitting in her chair opposite his bed. He shows the message to his wife.The wife ponders if his old dick is still able to get an occasional twinge or so, especially with having had a stroke. She realises they hadn’t made love for many months but also considers her being fat might have something to do with it. She has inherited her mother’s big bum. The story so far shows the wife overcoming the hurdles she faces and growing more content with her life.

I think it is a real tale of domesticity and love. I am reading this book till most of the night is almost over. I make up for lost sleep in having numerous naps during the day, even while people are talking to me. We had a neighbour visiting us yesterday who kept talking about our ‘Body Corporate’ and council permissions for cutting a tree. Not a very riveting afternoon. I had a good nap while having my hand in front of my face. Helvi covered for me by inveigling an animated interest.

I do wonder how we all sail through our lives with love, lust, liverwurst and all that stuff. Is it all as much part of what we need or is it all a bit like the dishwasher, many can do without it. Perhaps I have been fortunate with having hit Bingo first time around. I look around and find at times couples that still seem to thrive in each others presence and grow. I was sitting with H in a street café yesterday and watched an elderly couples talking deliciously with each other, they smiled a lot. Perhaps they do the dishes by hand as well.

I wonder now if the husband in hospital is deliberately prolonging his recovery from his stroke. He might ,ever so shyly, watch nurse’s hand disappearing between her legs during the evening, keenly inhaling her little sighing and heaving. I suppose it will all be revealed, as they say.

The book is “Letter to sister Benedicta” by Rose Tremain. One of her books “Restoration” was shortlisted for the Booker prize.


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20 Responses to “Going to bed.”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Gerard, dish washing by hand in good for the soul, or something to that effect. The book sounds like a scream, in that I mean it is funny in many ways. I must say the author has a vivid imagination.

    Yes, by all means, you did good when you paired up with Mrs H. Very lucky indeed.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, indeed.
      My mum always thought I was the best dishwasher around in Rotterdam. As a child I used to stand on a footstool to reach the granite sink.
      Yes, Mrs H is lovely and we make a good (feisty) caring couple, best of friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patti Kuche Says:

    Gerard, you need to copyright “Love, Lust and Liverwurst!” – a fantastic title for your book! Thank you for the heads up on Rose Tremain’s latest, will look out for it. Meanwhile, happy dishwashing to you both!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      So far the book is a very good read. She seems to amble along effortlessly. Yes, dishwashing is so much better than a marriage counsellor. It’s the touching of suds that brings us together each time.


  3. berlioz1935 Says:

    What are you talking about, reading all night and taking naps during the day and still writing your interesting and entertaining blog? Are there two Gerards? One sitting sitting in a café and the other at home doing the dishes? How is H coping with this multi personality?

    I’m having trouble getting through the day without having a Doppelgänger.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it is a bit twisted and those late nights are playing havoc with us. I suppose we stay up late because of politics and anger of what is happening, apart from our internet blogging. During the late morning we walk a lot and sometimes go for a coffee and a blue-berry muffin. By the time we get home, I get to cooking.
      There is only one Gerard. (I hope so.)
      I love cooking.


  4. auntyuta Says:

    Peter is a reluctant dishwasher. But after the dishes have piled up somewhat over a day or two he gets a bad conscience and goes to it quick smart. I am allowed to sort everything out and put it away. We never wanted a dish washing machine!
    Please explain, who is Sister Benedicta?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad to hear Berlioz does the washing up. We men have to stick for our rights. Nothing can take dishwashing away from us.

      Sister Benedicta is a fictional figure in the novel. She is a nun working in a Convent school in India. The main character of the novel, the wife, keeps Sister Benedicta informed about her life in the UK.
      It is a very good book. Terrific writing.


      • auntyuta Says:

        Thanks for the info, Gerard. I think Berlioz would agree with you. He does indeed stick for his rights! 🙂


      • auntyuta Says:

        Peter Seller’s heart going boom biddy boom. Goodness gracious me! I very much used to love listening to it. Berlioz used to love it too.

        This girl in the picture: I wonder whether she really is a nurse or just a girl dressing up as a nurse? Well, just a thought.


  5. Andrew Says:

    The picture of the night-nurse reminds me of Sophia Loren. Wasn’t she the one who made Peter Seller’s heart go boom biddy boom? Goodness gracious me! We have 2 dishwashers. One is an electric thing and the other isn’t. Number two is called M. She is the domestic. Both are very efficient but only one of them breaks things. I have never heard of Rose Tremain. I guess I need to look her up on Amazon. I’m sure our local bookshop won’t sell her. They don’t even sell John Steinbeck. What is the world coming to?


  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thanks Andrew. Her books are translated in 14 languages. You will be able to get it in HK, I am sure.
    Nice night-nurse. One bird in the hand is better than etc…


  7. gumbootsandgoats Says:

    Thanks for the ‘heads up’ or should I say ‘hands down the pants’ on Rose Tremain’s book – she’s a jolly good writer so I’m sure it’s not all gratuitous smut!

    I’ve never been able to cope with dishwashers, I’m so impatient and have never mastered the technique of loading them correctly. I’ve always been much happier doing it by hand(sorry, having a bit of a Rose Tremain moment there) even when there were seven or more of us living in the house. I rarely do the washing up after supper, inevitably it’s done the following morning, with the cold cabbage, grease etc floating in the water. Will I ever learn? I don’t think so.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I try and do most of the washing up at night. Strangely enough, next morning there is a new lot to be washed.
      I have come to do lots of cooking outside now on bottled gas. It kind of brings us back to a more primitive stage. You know, sitting around the fire, fiddling with sticks and stones.


  8. gumbootsandgoats Says:

    sorry! I’ve just realised that I’ve replied to your post from my new blog (forgot to log out and go back to the regular one)


  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The book sounds like a very good read. I took yours and several others advice and am in the midst of The Book Thief. Quite excellent. Gov. Brown has asked us to reduce our water consumption by 20%, so we use the dishwasher less and less as well. Dr. Advice and Charlie enjoy their time together in the kitchen after dinner hand washing the 2 or so dishes and it is quite enough.


  10. gerard oosterman Says:

    I did not read much last night. I fell asleep (in full flight) running towards the pillow.
    I’ll make up for it tonight. Yes, washing up is a good thing to do, very good therapy. Say hello to Dr. Advice and Charley.


  11. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    It’s a while since I read a Rose Tremain, thanks for the reminder.


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