Thursday, 5 March 2009

Slowly coming out of shock on Thursday

I’ve done nothing creative all week, and nothing much else either, except go to work, go home, eat some food, drink some cider and go to sleep. Sound nasty? I suppose it is. Basically I have been in a state of shock since Monday, when I had an email telling me someone had died and I am due to inherit some money. I don’t even know the figures involved, but it has brought up a huge mass of mixed emotions and memories. I’m already tense and emotional and dealing with painful unresolved memories as I try to gear myself up to find a new place to live – reliving as I do all the misery of my last house-move and the bitter circumstances in which that took place. And now this comes up.

It’s a long-standing arrangement – my late godmother Joyce left a Trust to pay an income to her only living relative, an elderly cousin – her cousin has just died, and I am one of the residual beneficiaries. Because my eventual receipt of the money was dependent on Cousin Pearl’s death I have always refused to think about it – it felt uncomfortably like wishing her into her grave, and I was very ill at ease with that. It must, realistically, be a large enough sum that the arrangement was worth doing in the first place, but I have no idea what I am going to receive. I am suddenly reminded of Joyce and of how bitterly I missed her when she died, and of the shock of her death – she had been in remission from cancer and had seemed to be doing well, then suddenly had a relapse and was gone, bang…

Anyway, I am now struggling with solicitor’s letters and legal terminology to do with the administration of Trusts, and feeling upset and shaken, and wondering what on earth I will do with this money, and whether it will be enough to do something concrete, and how long it will take to resolve the matter and wind up the Trust… My mind feels as if it is boiling all the time. I’m fairly pissed-off with the combined smugness and inefficiency of the solicitors involved, who have simply assumed they will step in and act on my behalf, unrequested, despite the fact they are based in Axminster and I live in Ealing, barely five miles from the solicitors administering the Trust, who are in Teddington… If I have to have a solicitor act for me, I’d prefer to choose my own!

I’m supposed to be going down to my mother’s in Kent for the weekend and I’m hoping to be able to switch off and relax – but I fear Mum will not let me rest until matters are resolved to her satisfaction. She dislikes uncertainty even more than I do…

It’s extraordinary how something like this can throw one. My mind is constantly returning to the subject, turning it over as one forks over compost, as if adequate aeration will sort the problem out. I’m startled at how quickly I have been able to put more then twenty years of saying “I won’t think about that!” straight out of my head. Now I am thinking about it all the time.

I find myself veering between the hope that I will find I have come into enough money to take some real steps towards realising some of my dreams, and the reflection that I will probably get very much less, and that less solicitors’ fees, and then I will not know what to do with it. I am astonished at the feeling of buoyancy and relief that accompanies the thought of receiving a solid chunk of capital. But I have to remember that in 1983, when Joyce, not yet ill and probably never imagining her cousin (who was twenty years her senior) would outlive her, made her will, the economy was in a very different state from now, and one could buy a pleasant small house in Canterbury (where I was living at the time) for around £60,000. It’s quite possible that that is the sort of sum that was invested; and if that were the case then a share of the capital, in today’s terms, would not be worth very much. But I just don’t know what I’m dealing with. I don’t know the figures. And I feel so morbid, brooding over this.

I won’t wallow in emotion for Pearl, beyond the general feeling one has of regret and sadness about a death. I didn’t know her well, but she was a nice old lady; and she was in her late nineties and had had a good innings. I hope I reach the same age in similar good health. I hope when I go people say “She was a nice old woman, and she had a good innings” – there are worse epitaphs, after all. Next time I lay my hands on some champagne I’ll drink a toast to her.

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