Wednesday, May 02, 2018
I sat with the ladies
I love my building. It is full of little corners with plants and chairs and a gorgeous gallery overlooking the community room.
The gallery has tables and sofas and comfy chairs and plants and a large coffee table which holds giveaways/freebies - fresh baking, girl guide cookies, magazines and recently a whole bag full of hair products which I helped myself to. I never give up on trying to thicken my aging hair. Why? I don't know.
Gillian is old school, rigidly Anglican, snobby, talks of WW2 in almost affectionate terms when her veteran husband lived in the building with her (he's deceased 14 years now) and the riff-raff (my term) were not welcome. Exclusively war-brides and veterans and their wives in the good old days.
When I am being viewed down through the nose - as my people say - by anyone, I make it a kind of project to charm them. Gillian, who is pushing 90 I'd say, ramrod straight and tall, works out in one of the gyms in the building every day, was a hard nut to crack.
I'd run into her a few times in the halls, and she was stiff and unfriendly. An Irish Catholic like myself, even tho long since exed, would have been rubble under her expensive black leather shoes. Gillian reads Hello and any magazine featuring the Royals - as many do here. The claws of England and Queen and Empire pierce deeply into the veins of these loyalists.
At 3 o'clock every day, the ladies gather in the gallery and chat softly and genteelly.
I was coming in yesterday afternoon with groceries in my wee trolley and decided now or never and sat down with them. In a sweatshirt and jeans. I'd say these ladies have only been wearing trousers (tailored, knife creased) in the last few years but most wear skirts and cardigans. I wish there was a photo, I must have looked like I was from Planet 9 or a leftover hippy from the sixties.
They had done their homework on me. They knew I'd been mayor in my town and that I'd "run an inn" (who was I to explain the concept of AirBnB to them?). I can clean up my language when I have to so in my most dulcet tones responded to their inquiries as to the guests from around the world I'd met.
Gillian threw a few delicate inquiries at me about schooling (she was expensively educated in England) and I was rewarded with an absolutely blinding beam of a smile when I mentioned I was a passionate fan of Gilbert & Sullivan and had, in fact, been in many productions of their operettas.
As I got to my feet to tow my groceries down to my apartment I could sense the approval of the ladies.
I was in.