Anyone who's married will know that they don't just marry the person, but their whole family, and you will be a very lucky person indeed to marry into a family that has a few half decent folks in it. I haven't been so lucky. My husband's family is very small, and there's only one who I've come to love, admire and respect and that's Great-Grandma Betty.
Betty is 86 and lives alone in a really nice part of Edinburgh. She's always been very active, has a large network of friends that she keeps in touch with. She's smart, friendly and is one of the nicest people I've ever met. A few years ago she was living in the upper flat of a of block of four apartments, and as Betty has one wooden leg, the climb up the stairs were getting difficult. When the flat below her went up for sale she bought it.
At the same time, my youngest sister-in-law, Auntie Hagrid, was moving out of the family home and striking out on her own into the challenging career of a dental hygienist. Grandma wanted to give her a big help; so she offered to sell Hagridess her current apartment at the same price that she bought it for: £48000 pounds. Now a small lesson in Edinburgh real estate: You can't get a two bedroom apartment in Edinburgh for under £100000 unless you're in a slum, Auntie Hagrid was getting a chance in a lifetime. The flat was valued at £127000 and she got the mortgage (and now a choice bit of equity built up in gifted real estate) and begins her life with a small mortgage.
Auntie Hagrid a wee while later meets and falls in love with Almost Uncle Lurch. He's five years younger than her, but for some reason the two of them get along. It shocks everyone as Auntie Hargid is, well...Hagrid-like. But we were happy for them! And some time later they become engaged. He moves in - although they claim to be waiting for marriage for the sex stuff, seeing as his Dad is the minister of their church. All of that is aside, Lurch is still in university and works a few hours in B&Q and it's all ok as Auntie Hagrid can support them. and his Xbox habit, and his friends hanging around drinking and eating all their food, and his complete messiness, and he kind of smells like a hippie student, and he has to have all of his meat pureed or he'll vomit because he choked on a piece of meat as a child...But you know: she's got someone!
So, recently, we visited our beloved Betty and one of the things we always do is take a small turn in her garden, which believe me is a stand in one spot and turn as it's probably 15 foot square, and be awed by how green fingered she is. Betty can make anything grow. She loves her garden, and as she's becoming increasingly housebound, her garden is her saviour from boredom and freedom from her comfy chair. Last year we treated her to a new drying line as the one she had was ancient, rusted and falling apart. One of those things you keep putting off as it's not so important, but it's great to have new when it comes. Last year she had a pacemaker put in, and this year she's had cataract surgery. He ability to get out, even for her shopping, is diminished substantially now. We usually see her every weekend, and tour the garden to see what new flowers have opened. Last week we opened the back door to see this:
There's a bloody big trampoline in the middle of Betty's garden! Lurch bought it. Thought it would be great for all the kids. Sure you could just bounce off the stone wall, or shed, but it'll be fine! So come bounce on the giant trampoline, and ain't he great to have thought of everyone? Oh, well, except Grandma Betty, because he just took away her garden and her new drying line - which used to stand where the trampoline now is. Now it still looks like a big garden with the other side, but remember, Betty is elderly with one leg and walking on pebbles is unsteady ground for her.
When we confronted Hagrid about it she said "It's nothing to do with me!" and walked off. Nothing to do with her. She only pays the mortgage, owns the land (The pebbled side is in the deeds as Betty's, the grass side is Hagrid's. But, Betty gave her such a good deal on the mortgage and land you'd think Hagrid would let Betty run the garden as she sees fit) oh and isn't she going to be a partner in this marriage? Or is she in reality a complete fucking doormat. I know she's not pretty, but really, if you think the bastard will leave you for fighting your corner you're better off without him. But no, she'd never dare. She just wants her big wedding, her day in the white dress and the rest will just come a huge damned shock. Have I mentioned I'm not going to her wedding? Yeah...I'm like that. I'm not going to support a union I find so unbearably selfish. I'm not even going to get into the hissy fits she pulled while her dad was in hospital, suffering a major illness for seven months, pissed off that he may not be able to pay for this big wedding she has planned. How dare Daddy get sick!?
So the only thing I can do, as I've been asked not to talk to her, because she could cry; and Betty doesn't want to talk to Lurch, in case he leaves Auntie Hagrid and breaks her heart, I'm going to shame them here on my blog. I'm so embittered about this, you have no idea. I think the added insult is that two weeks later, the trampoline was still there, and full of water as no one's been using it! It's a poor man's swimming pool. All I keep hearing about is how broke Hagrid and Lurch are, but they can splash out on a trampoline weeks before the big wedding they can't afford??
I promise: if the trampoline is there next week, I'm taking a stanley knife to it. They can sue me for cost, but Betty's getting her garden back if it's the last thing I do.