My Week: Wine in the sauna and children at the door

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The Independent Online
Sunday - The first day of the week if you're the vicar's wife. Wake late. The other side of the bed is empty, my husband already at church. I switch on local radio for their Sunday morning God slot. Sometimes our parish gets a mention, giving us Brownie points in the deanery. Today a parson speaks disparagingly of 'old ladies with hats and long faces'. I am 60. Seethe with fury and rush downstairs to write a stiff letter. Make sure this is posted before the service at 10 o'clock. Am glad the post office restored Sunday collections to our village.

Monday - Still cross about the parson, the old ladies, and the hats. Why not write to the Church Times? Dash off 600 words. My husband is not too happy: the parson will phone and tell him to keep his wife in order. I say he needn't worry, the Church Times won't print it. Post the article off quickly, before I can regret it.

Tuesday - Creative writing class. The students, women of my own age, write poetry with a gritty Northern flavour. A ballad, 'The Coalman's Dinner', celebrates a doctor called to a death. The coalman sits at table eating meat and two veg. His wife lies dead on the hearth-rug. When taxed with lack of proper feeling, he says: 'She'd got it cooked, t'were a reet shame to waste it]'. They assure me this is a true story of everyday Yorkshire folk.

Wednesday - Retirement has revolutionised my social life, most days it's a swim and Jacuzzi at the local pool. Today, two regulars are celebrating their golden wedding, so we have a bit of a do 5in the sauna - prawn sandwiches, fruitcake and wine. A respectable bunch, we enjoy making slightly risque jokes as we crunch the crisps.

Thursday - Meet two old colleagues for lunch. Doctors all, we swap reminiscences about the palmy days of the NHS, comparing them unfavourably with the present. Anecdotes abound about former canteen supervisors given briefcases and dark suits and told to run hospitals. This evening I watch Cardiac Arrest and remember my own days as a house surgeon 35 years ago. We were all sick with exhaustion for nearly all of the time, but the patients didn't know this and expected us to stay awake. The administrators were unsympathetic then, too. Not much has changed at that particular coalface.

Friday - This afternoon there's a committee meeting of the Family Service Unit. I leave it feeling that life has given me a good deal, unlike so many. Our clients mostly live on various forms of benefit. Some of them voted for the Tory party at the last election because the posters told them that Labour would increase taxes. Now they can't afford to keep their children warm.

Saturday - Awakened by the phone at 3.50am. A voice wants to speak to the vicar on a matter of great urgency, so I prod him awake. The voice says it needs to know the answer to a question. My husband braces himself. Then the voice thinks better of it, says: 'Oh, never mind]' and rings off. Morning comes and the editorial team works on next month's parish magazine. Some regard this as a chore; but I am in love with our computer. Work is interrupted by the doorbell. Two pasty-looking children stand there with a note from their mother, ashamed to come herself. Her Giro hasn't arrived, can we help her with some food? I feed the children cornflakes and milk; they eat three large bowlfuls each, ravenously. Back to the magazine. A copy goes to the Sunday morning radio God slot. Realise that they've not replied to my letter, but it doesn't seem important now.

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