Dear Mum, here’s the rest of what I was going to say in yesterday’s letter, which you will no doubt have received by this time, and equally no doubt can probably barely read. On Monday, I went back up to the Crowls’ to give Reg a hand throughout the day at the Mentally Handicapped Centre, to do stocktaking of the Christmas stuff they had left. We spent a fairly calm but hard-working day doing this, and he took me to lunch at a place across the road about 1.00. Did I say that Nina is finally moving today, in my last letter? I don’t think so, but anyway this is the end result it would seem of nine years of not-very-happiness in the Crowl household.
I got most of the following at the lunch we had, and honestly I really feel very sorry for Reg. He’s a marvellous person and fabulously generous, and to have had this sort of tension in his house for the last nine years is pretty hard. In fact, up until this latest episode which has resulted in Nina’s going, I had never thought he looked old, or behaved like an old man, and it’s only now that he’s started to look tired and weary and a bit fed up. [He was sixty-four at this time.] He’s even said he’s feeling old which isn’t like him at all.
As I’ve said to you before I’ve always found Nina charming, so that it seems incredible that she has been in that house for the last two months and Not Spoken to Reg once! The only time I’ve ever come up against anything other than charm was at Westgate that time, when if Reg and Margaret and I went out and were relaxed about the time a bit [as in getting back for the all-important tea], we were told off not by Mavis, but by Nina. And on one or two other occasions I’ve dared to argue about something with her the surface Nina has gone and a much less pleasant lady has appeared. Reg puts it down to her having been spoilt all her life because of her heart trouble ˗ it would seem there is probably no reason why she shouldn’t have ever worked, but she never has. And while she hasn’t ever lived off anyone in particular, she’s nearly always lived with one of her sisters since her mother died. She has a pension but obviously this isn’t enough.
And Reg is worried too about Margaret who must obviously be left on her own some day. He says that Mavis’s sister Phil would look after her for a start at least, but it seems both to him and me that she must get used to not necessarily living with her relations. Margaret in fact is apparently quite happy with the idea of staying somewhere else ˗ boarding with someone for example ˗ but it is the relations, and especially Mavis who won’t hear of it. This seems very short-sighted to me. I said for a start to Reg that at least she had plenty of relations, but he was just sourly amused: Mavis’s brother and wife, who would be the most able to look after her, have carefully never bothered to look after Nina for more than some months when their mother died, although, Reg says, he promised his mother that he would. So it seems as if there is no likelihood of their doing anything about Margaret, either. What a business, isn’t it? The Good Lord will no doubt keep an eye on her, but as with any problem, he likes us, I’m sure, not just to sit around waiting for him to make a move. [After I returned to New Zealand, Margaret got married, in fact, to Brian, who also had some degree of mental disability. He died later, and Margaret seems to have coped since then, keeping in touch with some relatives on Mavis’s side.]
Which brings me to me again! I went to a play last night (Edward II, with Ian McKellan, the new up and coming boy, it would seem, and it was very good too, even though I must have missed about the first twenty minutes!) and on the way home as I was doing my usual ten minute walk from the tube ˗ I do most of my meditating there!! ˗ I fell again on the problem of where I am going and what I am ultimately to do with myself. And honestly I must have been getting so worked up about it lately, that I finally burst into tears (!) and snuffled my way along quite a considerable bit of the road. That cleared the air at least, and I’m sure I felt a conciliatory pat on my shoulder from my much neglected Guardian Angel (I wonder what his name is? Fred, do you think?)
And at Mass this morning (that’s one of the advantages of going to work at night, I can go to Mass on both Wednesday and Saturday) I said to the Good Lord again to give me a push in the right direction, because I don’t know if I can be bothered with much more of this rather futureless outlook, and the idea has arisen in my head that it might be worth carrying on and completely my ATCL [Associate of the Trinity College of London, in piano], and possibly LTCL [Licentiate], and looking into teaching, because the more I look at it the more it seems to be clear that I’m just not good enough to take up repetiteuring full-time. I could get there in each case, but I’m not quick-witted enough, I think, to know what I’m doing without having worked at it. Therein has always lain my problem, I believe.
So I’m writing to Trinity College to find out if my Practical bit of the ATCL is still valid and if it is, or even if it isn’t, I think at least having that aim in view might be more valuable than carrying on as at the moment, hoping one day I’ll know when I’m ready enough!
One of Mike’s friends, Mervyn, that I met again last night when we three and Kathy went for a drink on Mike’s Irish citizenry, said something about teaching ˗ he teaches foreign students more advanced English ˗ and that is probably where the notion has arisen. What sort of teacher would I make? That doesn’t matter yet ˗ but I’ll see how this Trinity College business works out. I begin to think that I must always have sort of aim in view otherwise I don’t bother. We’ll see what gives from here, anyway. Love, Mike.
[A good deal of this was a real loss of confidence after being regarded as something of a failure at the Opera Centre by the staff. I was actually a good sight-reader, and capable of working hard musically. I suspect if I’d pushed myself I could have made a living in London, musically, doing a variety of jobs, and in time would have had enough contacts to keep the work coming in. C’est la vie.]