This was another beautiful, hot, summer’s day. Having spent a large part of yesterday reducing the span of a wandering Philadelphus, or Mock Orange, this morning I tackled its rambling roots. Armed with a large fork, an axe, and a back, I set to. It wasn’t until three and a half hours later that I was satisfied I had reclaimed this tiny patch of land. My back’s OK but my right wrist feels the strain of trying to pull up obstinate, well embedded arborial foundations. First I dug all round them, then had a tug. When they wouldn’t come, sometimes I had to dig a bit more, or, as a last resort, wield the axe. I had to remove a lovely old blue brick from the path through the pergola, so I could get at lateral growths underneath it. That was easily repositioned. I imagine John, from yesterday’s post, would have had everything out, and the area replanted, in no time. As it was, Jackie had to wait until I had staggered to a halt before she could put her wilting plants to bed.
It is Alan Warren’s fault that my wrist feels the strain at such times. This is because, for the last thirty five years or so the third finger of that hand has been prevented from bending by calcified material on the first joint. It was Alan who put it there. We were both playing rugby for the same side, The Old Whitgiftians. We both dived for the ball at the same time. Alan got the ball; I got a broken finger. Alan, dear soul, has completely forgotten about it. I remember every time I try to pick up a handful of change in a shop; or when someone assumes that unscrewing the top off a jar would be easy peasy for me. I have to bring the wrong fingers into play when performing basic tasks. Come to think of it, even handling a mouse is a bit awkward.
Rambling roots is, of course what this blog is all about. Roots are important to us all. Alex Hayley wrote a seminal novel about them. I would not have met Pauline Lines had it not been for Sam’s mother-in-law Gay O’Neill’s desire, from Australia, to trace hers. Pauline turned out to be a cousin living in Cheam, to whom I was introduced at Sam and Holly’s wedding. In fact, Gay’s Facebook identity is Geneholic O’Neill. My brother Chris has a similar keen interest in genealogy, and is tracing the family membership back through several generations. My mother is the custodian of our living memory bank. It was she who could identify the huge portrait I have of Elizabeth Franks, my maternal great grandmother. I may not be around long enough to give out similar information to the next generations, but maybe this project of mine will help.
What I am focussing on is my own life, current and past; and others who have been part of it. This is why I write about what I see and experience today, coupled with sometimes rambling memories which come to me. Memories aren’t usually summoned in order, but appear as and when they feel like it. They are like a random photograph album without captions. They are what the recipient makes of them, and no two people’s recollections of the same event are likely to be the same. Sometimes it is their memories that are divergent; sometimes they just experience the event differently. Elizabeth, twelve years the younger, and I have often noticed how we had different experiences of upbringing in the same family. It is serendipitous that I should be living in Morden in a period of life when I have both the time and the ability to go rambling. Morden wasn’t a large part of my childhood, but it is near enough to Wimbledon and Raynes Park to give me easy access to those places that were. Mum tells her stories in her own way. They are informative, but when she and I recount the same event, our versions may differ in immaterial or significant detail. So is it with my recollections. They are mine, not necessarily the gospel according to anyone else. I, of course, think they are infallible.
This evening Jackie returned to Morden and I stayed on at The Firs as I am off to Sigoules on Wednesday. We went off for an Eastern Nights meal, only to find that they are not open on Mondays. The Purbani in Hedge End provided an acceptable alternative. We had been there before and liked the food but thought the place was desperately in need of a facelift. We particularly remembered the carpet which had appeared so worn and greasy in parts as to have been lino. As we entered Jackie said: ‘You never know, they may have a new carpet.’ They had. And all new linen. And the meal was just as good.