Mrs. Reynard is looking most uncomfortable lately. Perched on her pile of sticks this morning, she was gnawing away at her rear end, which is now on one side completely devoid of fur. The patch the magpie was pecking on 26th. May (see post) is now rather raw.
On my normal route to Colliers Wood to catch the tube for lunch with Norman, in Morden Hall Park, I met Benjamin and his mother. This eloquent and cheerful little chap was on a dinosaur hunt. He was taking his task very seriously and wanted to know if I’d seen one, especially ‘a big one’. He declined to produce his hunting roar for the photograph. Perhaps because I am not a dinosaur, although some people may quibble with that. Well, Benjy, I didn’t see a dinosaur, but I did find a very big slug. His picture is at the top of this page.
One of the most amusing regular announcements on the Underground was given out at Green Park. A long list of severe or minor delays is intoned. This is always followed by: ‘There is a good service on all other lines.’ ‘Which are they?’, I ask myself.
Seated reading on a bench near the mainly Somali area of Harlesden, I picked up one cent of an euro, thinking it might come in handy in the Sigoules supermarket. I hoped it wasn’t a Greek one. It was fortunate that I wasn’t on my feet, for these days I wouldn’t bend down for anything less than a tenner. I remembered once diving for a ten-bob note at a bus stop in Worple Road in case Chris got there first. For anyone too young to remember, that’s 50p in today’s money. But, then, you could do a great deal more with it.
A middle-aged woman came and talked to me. She began by saying I looked so peaceful that if she had a camera she would photograph me. I hoped she wouldn’t notice the one hanging round my neck. She went on to eulogise about the beauty of the thousand year old church that lay behind me. She spoke of recent renovations, and I realised that the graveyard is looking much better kept these days. It is a sad reflection of our times that the building was not open for my inspection. She was on her way to visit her father, now suffering from dementia, in a care home. On her regular visits she does a lot of the feeding and caring herself. This woman was not complaining and initially spoke appreciatively of her father’s carers. She did, however, say it would be nice if they thanked her, because they were paying the full ‘feeding rate’. According to her this former Southern Cross establishment has been taken over by a Methodist organisation. It has a new manager who is trying to improve things. From the sound of it she has her work cut out. Once this daughter learned that I had been in Social Work she told me about some of the attitudes and systems she found problematic, asking me what I thought. For example, did I think it unreasonable that he was not allowed to ‘poo’ until 11 a.m? I most certainly did. Apparently the staff would rather he ‘pooed in his pad’, which they could clean up afterwards, than disrupt other morning routines. She felt that his personal dignity was suffering. My beard didn’t put her off expressing her conviction that it was normal to want to shave every day. Presumably there are days when her father can and cannot shave.
Norman served up a dish of delicious Catalan chicken accompanied by a fine rioja, and followed by apple strudel. Perhaps not entirely by coincidence we discussed the writing of Iris Murdoch. I have not read her philosophy, but have most of her novels, except the last. This was so badly reviewed by critics who could not make any sense of it that I decided to give it a miss. Some time later we learned that she was suffering from the same condition as my conversationalist’s father. For anyone working with dementia the biopic ‘Iris’, starring Jim Broadbent as the long-suffering and somewhat bewildered husband, and Judi Dench as Iris, is essential viewing. No-one living with the condition would need, or probably wish, to watch this fine portrayal of the slow realisation that all is not well and the gradual decline into frustrated helplessness.
This evening Jacqueline came over for meal, and, given that she had recommended the Watch Me to us, we just had to take her there. The food was as good and reasonably priced as always. As I don’t normally eat another meal after a Norman lunch, this was stretching it a bit for me.
Yet again i’m moved to the extent that i completely forgot that I was cooking and what I was cooking.
Many thanks Alex. Hope your food wasn’t spoiled