Listening to the squirrels scampering on our roof this morning reminded me of those in the loft of Lindum House in Newark who sounded as if they were wearing hob-nailed boots. It is amazing how much noise they make. This also gives me an excuse to tell a Soho story.
During the middle years of the 1970s we lived in Horse and Dolphin Yard in Soho. Between Gerrard Street and Shaftsbury Avenue, this was a little-known mews where we had a flat in a Westminster City Council property. Michael, in his early teens decided to keep and breed rabbits. Now, there isn’t much room in Chinatown, so there was nothing for it but a rooftop farm. Michael, always inventive, built a runway across the roofs in the Yard, using ladders to circumvent the different heights of the various roofs he had to pass before reaching his chosen site. This was the flat roof of a music publisher’s offices. The staff there, incredibly, had no problem with what was happening. In those days produce for the myriad of chinese restaurants in Gerrard Street came in wooden boxes which were discarded and left for the binmen. These boxes made good firewood, but Michael had other uses for them. He used them to build rabbit hutches and to make a safety barrier for his pets around the perimeter of the roof.
An elderly woman in an upper floor of a block of flats overlooking the area got so much pleasure from watching the rabbits frolicking in the sunlight that she took to leaving vegetable scraps on our doorstep to supplement their diet.
One of the ladders reaching from our roof to the next one spanned a skylight which was so begrimed as to be invisible. That is why, when one of Michael’s friends decided to jump instead of using the ladder which Michael had carefully placed to avoid such an eventuality, he went clean through it. I was summoned, peered through the window, and saw Simon in the clutches of a gentleman who had no intention of letting him go. I rushed round into Gerrard Street, managed to work out in which building the boy was being held, searched through the warren of rooms until I came to the right one, and persuaded the man to release him.
I kid you not. Every word of this is true.
Later in the morning, getting back in good time for a supervision session at midday, I made a long tour of Morden Hall Park. In one of the areas where the heady scent of cow parsley is all pervading I stopped and chatted to a National Trust volunteer, armed with a grabber and a black bag, ‘litter-picking’. He told me that there is a team of ‘litter-pickers each allocated a different area of the park. We were standing in The North Meadow. This explains why there is a marked difference litter-wise once one crosses the tramline into the local authority managed area of The Wandle Trail. He suggested I needed a little dog for my daily walks. I said I was quite satisfied with the Jack Russells belonging to my son and daughter. Further on I met one of his colleagues.
The aroma in the rose garden was of horse shit.
This evening we had a wonderful steak pie by The Real Pie Shop of Crawley, bought at The Greens Farm Shop in Ockley. As one of the vegetables I made my first ever braised red cabbage. As Delia’s recipes are sometimes rather bland for me I may have been a bit heavy handed with the spices. This might explain why Jackie said it tasted more like apple pie than red cabbage.