I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been so busy both physically and mentally. Things haven’t been great all the time around here and no-one likes a moaner, or a “Remoaner Mong,” or perhaps that didn’t happen.

This post is just me checking in to say hello. My blogging conscience has been pricked by James who reprimanded me during our last Skype session for not writing. Apparently he keeps in touch with us poor old folk in dear old Blighty through my blog. Last year it was every day; now it’s non-existent.

I haven’t even managed a photo of the day for a while. I would have expected by now to have been able to take and post some spectacular pictures of autumnal foliage – they call it peeping in Canada – but the trees were so late this year that their brown leaves have formed a carpet silently during the night without all of their usual scarlet and gold pomp.

So here I sit, yet again berating myself for my failure to practise two Bellini arias. It’s OK, I have time before my next lesson, but I would have nailed them by now if I’d had the time. I’ll get right on it tomorrow.

I thought, though, that James would like a little story that happened to me this afternoon.

A while ago we were looking for a new house. Having sold our old one, we were between properties and renting a beautiful and newly renovated house just up the road, from a family at school, who had had to move to New York for two years. Their house was a little beyond our budget but they did drop the rental price because they knew us – in fact our boys were in the same class at school – and we could move in at short notice. This provided a welcome respite for us: we had fallen in love with a property which had been dangled in front of our eyes as a toy mouse in front of a pussycat no fewer than three times. We had belatedly realised that we had been used by the estate agent as an incentive for the buyers of that house to hurry up and sort out their mortgage and in the end it was not to be.

Anyway, this was 2001 and a week after we moved into their house the world changed forever. This story is not about how the world changed in September 2001, which has been more than adequately documented elsewhere.

So we settled into this house that was a little too large for us and a little beyond our budget and every week we’d go out and look for a new house to buy but somehow every week the properties we saw were smaller than those of the week before.

About six months after we’d settled in, it became clear that the family who owned the house were having some problems in the Big Apple and were keen to move back home. We had to find a new house quickly. So I wrote to all of the people who lived in the houses within a walkable radius of my children’s primary school and asked them if they wanted to sell their house. This plan worked very quickly and, after a few false starts, we bought this house which is now our home, and we moved in at the end of the June.

We had made very sure to look after the rented house very carefully. We made sure it was cleaned not once but twice to welcome its owners back from the USA. Sadly this was not enough for Mrs X, the owner because, no sooner had she settled back into her home than she decided that she would start spreading stories about how dirty we were and how we had left her house in a terrible state.

Well, that famous quote, erroneously attributed to Mark Twain, comes to mind here:

A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes

For years afterwards, I found it difficult to hold my head high as Mrs X and her friends blanked me whenever she saw me and openly gossiped about me at school. It was horrible. Eventually our sons left that school and she no longer figured in my life.

Until one day, I met her behind the counter of our bank branch. As she was today.

I have had to buy some dollars for MsDD’s forthcoming trip to Washington and New York City and I called at the bank to check whether she can use her debit card there (she can but only if she registers with her bank that she is going to be in the USA.) There I stood in the queue, which was taking a long time as it seemed that some staff had been called into the manager’s office for a meeting. I saw Mrs X whizzing to and fro a couple of times and I feigned a huge interest in the contents of my phone and then in the leaflets for savings products.

Mrs X took the initiative and worked her way down the developing  queue asking people if she could help them. Eventually she came to me:

“Oh hello!” her face gleamed with fake brightness and she adopted a large, practised customer-service smile. “Long time no see!

Indeed,” I said, forcing my mouth into the smallest of acknowledgements. “I’d like to buy some dollars and enquire about my daughter’s debit card.”

And so an old score was finally settled with dignity.