Friday, 6 July 2007

Icebergs and nurses

It struck me yesterday how little we really know about each other, and there are aspects of this that I like. Surprise can be a good thing in relationships, I find. (Note the word ‘can’. I appreciate there are a lot of instances when surprise can be Very Unwelcome.)

For instance, last week two friends told me things about themselves that I was really surprised about. Both concerned events in their past (and no, I can’t divulge them, am sworn to secrecy) and made me realise that while we think we know our friends, we are all like icebergs. We only show what we want other people to see.

One friend of mine was a highly successful international corporate lawyer who petrified me when we first met. She and her husband (another boating friend of Himself’s) invited us for a meal one evening and, facing this diminutive Swedish lady over the dinner table, I was stunned into silence by the sheer force of her intelligence. She was still living in London then, and I can remember her saying, ‘I’m 55 doing the job of a 35 year old.’ She was also the only one around the table sober – she couldn’t drink, with her job.

Her husband is always generous with the wine - and it’s always really lovely wine, not the £2.99 a bottle that Himself and I drink – so as the evening progressed, I was aware of talking perhaps rather too much, Very Earnestly. Across the table, the terrifying Swede remained impassive. I had another glass of wine and giggled, and the rest of the evening passed in a sort of blur.

It wasn’t till the next day that I thought, Oh God. What did I say? I’d thought I was quite sober, but the finer points of the conversation escaped me. So did the larger ones, actually. Luckily she didn’t come down to Cornwall very often and by the time she did, I’d airbrushed that evening.

She took early retirement due to ill health and arrived to live in Cornwall, knowing no one. She asked me to go walking. I agreed, quaking. I thought, ‘What do I have in common with this horrifyingly intelligent lawyer? What shall we talk about?’

We found we had a lot in common. She has a gorgeous sense of humour, and even better, a great sense of Fun. She is devoted to Mollie (who she refers to as My Dog) and is one of those friends I can talk to about anything. And by anything, I mean from Himself’s cancer (she’s had her fair share of that), to my Murky Past (she’s had murky bits as well), to longing for children, to difficult relationships. We go for long walks with Mollie and sort the world out.

Last week we had a longer walk than usual (a lot to discuss) and when I told her how terrifying I had found her at first, she looked at me and twinkled. ‘I worked hard at that version of myself,’ she said.

And don’t we all? It’s gratifying to know that underneath, she has the same touching insecurities as all of us. Which makes her all the more lovable.

Nurse Flowerpot

Today we are off to look after my mother following her hernia operation. She won’t be able to lift anything, drive or cook or really do much. Oh and she can’t get her stitches wet either, so about the only thing she can look forward to is watching the rest of Wimbledon. And seeing her darling daughter of course.

I’m looking on this trip with a certain amount of trepidation as the last time we went up to look after her, she was a lousy patient. Mind you, I was probably a lousy nurse. However, this time is going to be different, I’m sure (Think Positive).

What this means is that as she doesn’t have any internet connection, you may not be hearing from me for a few days. (Our laptop battery is knackered and at £60 for a new one, we decided against that.) On the other hand, we will have to go and shop so I might find myself lured into an internet cafĂ© en route.

Meanwhile, think of Nurse Flowerpot, lamp in hand, angelic expression on face. Or not. Watch this space…

4 comments:

Rebecca Taunton said...

At least you won't turn into a certain character from Misery!

I'm sure your mother will be very pleased to see you and have you there to look after her.

It's a rare thing to be able to open up to people and share our darkest secrets. So I guess it does come across as floating icebergs: An unusual, but interesting comparison.

Miss Understood said...

I think I'm more of an upside down iceberg to be honest, but I've certainly had some major surprises in my lifetime.

I hope it all goes well with your Mum. Just keep on smiling, regardless!

Flowerpot said...

thanks for that all going suprisingly well so far!!

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Dear Nurse Flowerpot, I hope everything goes well with your Florence Nightingale duties.
One of my closest friends now, I thought very snobby and stand-offish when we first met. She'd sometimes not bother answering a question and just stare off into the distance. Once I got to know her, however, I realised she was, in fact, very shy and also quite hard of hearing.