Sunday, June 28, 2015

Going Deep

Lady Darley had come to expect slow replies from your humble servant while he was away at college. But when May 1993 rolled around, she sent a quick goad on a single loose-leaf page:
Dear Chris,

What has happened to you, heh, I haven't heard from you since January! I know that I wrote some pretty bad things in my last letter about being angry with you, but it wasn't meant to stop you writing completely.

I guess I have a really great touch with Americans, heh?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Sorry again,
[Lady Darley]
I did reply to her, and on the about a month later, she replied in bulk: a six-page letter. Four pages were typewritten, single spaced, with the last two handwritten and double sided. She also a tourist pamphlet on Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, near where she lives. But it's the letter that is the main, introspective attraction.
Darley Dale, 16 June

Dear Chris,

Thank you for writing to me after so long. I realize that you are busy with college so don't worry.

So how are you, good I hope? I'm sure that you are pleased to have finished for the summer, I know I am. The reason I have finished school so early this year is because I've been sitting my final A-levels and yesterday was my last one. I did actually finish school as far as lessons were concerned on the 15th May. My exams in English Language, English Literature and Sociology have been going on since the 15/05 and believe me I am very pleased to see the back of them. They were hard really, although not quite as hard as I would have expected, but the truth will tell on results day August 20th. I had some tricky questions focusing on a really minor point in the book, but I think I got around them ok.

I was happy in one way about finishing my exams, but in another I was sad as it means that I won't see some of my friend again. I do plan to ring them up and go and see them, but to be truthful sometimes we are quite an unsociable bunch. I guess in a way I split the group up a little when I became friends with [Laurie] back in the fourth year. To be truthful, I know it sounds embarrassing but I must have thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. (That's an English saying - I don't know if you've heard it?) She was interested in the same things as me like writing, painting and photography when everyone else thought I was odd, well eventually we broke friends as I've probably told you many times, but it almost split the group in two. Some of the people who are friends with her don't speak to me and vice versa. I was alright as far as friends go in the sixth form because everyone is so segregated anyhow with only coming into school when we have classes, but I think it's sad when you break friends with people, don't you?
Been there, done that. But most often, I just ended up moving away from my friends, and their friendship faded away in the days before Facebook.
The problem that my friends and I have always had is that we always seemed to like the same men, and when we were younger we used to fall out with one another over them. [Laurie] and I fell out once over [Arthur], due to the classes arrangement really, I got talking to him with the express wish of him liking [Laurie], but the inevitable happened, we liked one another and she never forgave me. It's really stupid falling out with friends over members of the opposite sex as you may have found, as your friends will stay around much longer. It's almost the same thing when my sister [Rose] fell out with me once for being what she construed as too "friendly" with her boyfriend of the time. I did spend almost hours on the phone to him when he was going out with my sister, but I still see him after my sister has moved on to someone else. [Alex] is one of my closer male friends.

We are all planning to go bowling, to the Pizza Hut and to see Basic Instinct on Saturday which will really be a silly stupid girls' night out, if you know what I mean, and I'm sure you do. Well enough about that, I'm sure you are quite bored, the whole purpose of this was to say if you want me to send a group photo of everyone I will, so that you can finally put names to faces.

Now I will answer some of your questions. (I hope you are not asleep by now.)

My sister is the same as always, she can be a [bleep] at times, but can't we all - I know I can. She's frantically trying to get all of her assignments finished as college finishes for her on Friday, and I think she said she had five to complete this week. She's totally different to me in the sense that she always leaves things to the last minute, so I strongly suspect she may have had them for a long time. As I have finished my assignment I have been roped into typing some of one big assignment up on South Africa and its business, economical, tourist and racist attitudes. And my isn't it just so much fun! I've managed to take some time off to type you this letter.

The reason me and my sister argue so much is that I state only too often my mother says, that her boyfriend treats her like a piece of s**t. He really does though because she can't wear something without getting his approval, and we would think nothing of saying, "What on earth do you call that thing you've got on" in public so that she'd be so embarrassed in front of her friends, she would take it off. But I guess she has to find out for herself. She has a job now in one of the leading pharmacies in England as a Sales Assistant. My Mum and Dad are pleased that she has a job in today's economic climate, but really is is not the right job for her. She has three high passes in French, German and English at A' level, can speak conversational Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian and Flemish. She also has a high grade BTEC in Tourism and Business Studies. We thought she'd be far better suited as an interpreter. She of course has to make her own mistakes like we all do. I'll let you know if she does apply for the Management training scheme at Marks and Spencer's. You must have heard of them!
Actually, I hadn't, but they're a department store. Here's more about them. As for avoiding an interpreter's job, perhaps the issue is that live interpretation requires you to both listen and talk at the same time. A lot of people have a hard time doing that. I know U.N. interpreters train by first getting used to their own voice being played back to them so they can learn to work with the constant flow of words.
You spoke in your letter of a CURATORS SCHOLARSHIP, what on earth is one of them? Does the Government pay for you to go? We have the same kind of system here where I have to apply for a grant from the local education authority, sending in my parents' salary, occupations, where we live, if we own our own home and all interesting stuff like that! Is that like what you mean, or did you have to take an exam and if you passed it you got your scholarship. Please let me know!
For those of you just tuning in, the Curators' Scholarship paid my tuition through all four years of the University Of Missouri. It covers whatever the tuition is, no matter if the Curators raise it or not. It doesn't cover books and board -- sweating it out at Six Flags helped pay for that, and my parents kicked in matching funds and probably a little more. When I got the diploma in my hand, I was college-loan-free and darn glad.

We tried applying for a Pell Grant, which involved filling out lots of forms and little green cards. When we sent in a green card, another one came back. We never got any money; just little green cards.

I had told her how my brother survived a car accident nearly unscathed.
Your brother must have a guardian angel or something to come completely out of the whole thing without a scratch, it could have been really bad, but I guess you really don't want to think about it! A friend of my sisters [Redacted] from Denmark has a brother called [Redacted] who's the same age as me, well anyway, he drives a scooter like most Europeans do. Like your brother Mike too fast, one day after leaving [Redacted] apartment (he lives on his own as he can't get on with his Dad) he came out from the underground garage without looking we think and a car smashed into him. He wasn't as lucky as Mike as he was thrown off his scooter and under the car. He's been in hospital for about six weeks so far with extensive injuries, hopefully he will be better soon. My cousin [Redacted] from Middlesborough who is about ten got pulled off his bike and under a taxi once, he had his big toe ripped off and can hardly walk on some days. Anyway all these incidents only show you how lucky your brother was.
Here she breaks typing at the bottom of the page and picks it up two days later.
Darley Dale, 18th June

Hello again, sorry I missed yesterday but I was busy typing the assignment for my sister, she wouldn't have finished it otherwise. She brought me a box of chocolates to say thank you, so I guess she isn't that bad after all.

You will never guess what happened to me yesterday! I got this letter back from a competition I'd entered for short stories from the county I live in and the one next to it, Nottinghamshire. They picked a story I wrote along with fifty-nine other stories to appear in a book. I'll get a percentage of the profits and price from each book, but it will only work out at about 0.03 percent for each book - but it's the exposure that I'd get for my writing which is most important. Congratulate me -- I was quite impressed! My Mum, me and my sister brought a book. My Dad really annoyed me as he wasn't even slightly impressed, he even asked my Mum why on earth we were all buying a book. He really annoyed me as he had an almost total disregard for how I would feel. It was like the time I got all B's in my report and a C in Games, he went almost ballistic saying that he didn't want a daughter who couldn't get at least straight B's. My sister gets just about straight A's so as you can imagine, I have a lot to live up to, or at least I feel I have to. I guess your brother may feel exactly the same, or is he as brainy as you?
Without getting too much into detail, this is hitting home. Michael had to live under my shadow -- and my grades. I pulled straight A's in school, and he couldn't match that. He was no flunkie, but the comparison was always there, and it wasn't fair. He didn't process information the same way, because GOD didn't create him the same.

Again, I can't get into details, but for comparison's sake, let me play you this clip from Saturday Night Fever Lady Darley reminded me of:
ADVISORY: Rated R For Cursing! Watch responsibly!

We still have three-and-a-half more pages to go in this letter.

In the next part, Lady Darley talks about working with my brother, living with my brother, and swears she's seen somebody who could be my long-lost twin brother...


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