Mary was sweeping the floor with her new Shark cordless electric carpet sweeper just replaced by Lakeland Plastics, that store beloved of British women.Emile was watching her from the lid of the old gramophone where he sat surveying the sitting room.
Leave that spider alone,he called to Mary
Why? she asked kindly,are you planning a date with it?
No,it’s a good thing to keep them as they may catch flies and other nasty things.
Mary turned and gazed at Emile.She was wearing some blue Tencel jeans and a bright pink top with embroidery round the neck.Her thoughtful face w as covered in Radiant Glow foundation as her friend Annie was trying to make her look more attractive to men.Which men was a puzzle as Mary liked to spend time alone or going out with her female colleagues to search for books on Dirac’s owl,Schrodinger’s cat or Godel’s ants.
Her male colleagues were mainly very conceited or shy like the rabbits brought up in the cliffs at Lyme Regis.
However Annie wanted Mary to marry again, as she saw her own vocation in life as being a mistress to a bright and intelligent retired man whose wife worked full time or was in the Library studying the Babylonian number system or other esoteric topics
.So she could help Mary and herself at the same time.
Shall we have a party,she chuckled to Mary as she came in through the ever unlocked back door.
What sort of party,Mary asked nervously.
I want you to meet some men,Annie reminded her.
I believe that like bombs falling on London in WW2,that if a man has your number on him he will find you,Mary teased.
Maybe your phone number,Annie retorted.Why don’t you get a spare mobile and I can put some posters with that number on the trees down the side roads saying you are looking for a new partner.
I thought I had made it clear that as some Orthodox Jews believe that Zion will only come when God wants it to do,so a man will turn up when it is God’s will.
That’s a bit much.Do you think you are God’s chosen person? Is God interested in finding you a new husband? Annie shouted.
Well,it may seem strange to you ,but even seeming trivia like me being married to some new man can have deep consequences for the whole world… a bit like the butterfly’s wings If I am happy it spreads around me and makes others happier too.Or if God wishes me to write a book and I need a man to cook for me then one will turn up,Mary responded in her low and musical Tyneside accent.
On the other hand, God may wish me to lead a contemplative life,she carried on.
Annie was puzzled.Why do you think God has all these plans for you,she enquired.
It’s not just me,said Mary.It’s everybody but that does lead into difficulties as we look at the world around us.Does God want all. these refugees to drown or for Britain to stay in the EU or leave and please Florenc Tonson? It reminded the women of their convent school classes where they had studied a simplified version of the writings of Aquinas and his proofs of the existence of God.
It was this book which had given Mary her first doubts about religion and, being somewhat dim in the tact department. she had shared her misgivings with the headmistress, who was not happy to be questioned even in front of mere school girls.
Emile,she cried,I wish I were a cat.My schooldays were so terrible
It’s your own fault, said Annie.I just pretended to believe it and kept quiet by fantasising about my new lingerie and how my boyfriend would like it
How remarkable it is that girls and boys can be so different in their personalities and ways of coping with puberty.
It was like a prison,Mary said.Still it made later life seem happier.
How did you afford new underwear so often,she asked Annie
I wore my mother’s! this dear friend informed her.
My mother didn’t have that sort of underwear,Mary told her.And see how something seemingly so trivial can affect one’s personal development so much.Still I was fed and allowed to study and play the piano and do my homework to the sound of Horace Wagner and Richard Straussbumt.
Did it help you to concentrate,Annie asked in a puzzled way.
No, it allowed my brother to dominate me and otherwise he might have hit me or knocked over the folding table where I kept my exercise books ,and pen ready to write essays on Twelfth Night and the periodic table.
Annie burst out laughing.Sorry,Mary,I am not laughing because you were bullied but it just sounded as if tables had periods,the way you said it.
Imagine how hard it was dealing with all that in a tiny house with the loo in the back yard.It was taboo so had to be concealed.When we went to Dublin for 2 weeks my three sisters and I all had our periods and we brought back all the blood stained cloths in our suitcases.Luckily the customs man did not look inside.
Was there nobody who could have burned them for you?
The landlady never mentioned it so neither did we.
No wonder I am so peculiar.
Well,I like you,said Annie.You are so kind and sympathetic and good to talk to.And you are always coming up with new ideas and interesting books.
I suppose we complement each other.Mary said shyly.Maybe we should get married and forget about men.
Annie’s eyes opened wide.
I think I’d better ring 999.she screamed.
And so say all of us.Don’t wait