Today was a Mordred (posted 12th. July) day.
I took my usual route to SW1 for coffee with Carol. A flattened frog, having attempted to cross the sodden footpath in Morden Hall Park, hadn’t made it. As I slalomed around the pools, a cyclist who had crept up behind me deftly avoided me as I crossed her path.
The warning notice on the tramway which divides the National Trust property from the Wandle Trail must have been inspired by the push-me-pull-you from the 1967 film, ‘Doctor Dolittle’, starring Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley.
An announcer at Victoria politely requested travellers to ‘stand on the right and walk down on the left of the escalator’. This seemed to me to be an impossibility.
In speaking with Carol, I mentioned a collector I had once disappointed. When Louisa was very young she had become interested in foreign banknotes. I took great delight in scouring Newark market stalls for samples with which to enhance her collection. In her teens she moved on to other things and returned them to me. Learning of my friend’s interest I offered them to him. And was unable to find them. When moving back to London in 2006, I unearthed them and sent them to him. He was very pleased.
Phonecards required me to be a bit more adventurous. In the 1980s, when Louisa began collecting them, I was working in London, which is, of course, full of phoneboxes. These cards contained a reader which recorded the time left available on them. When exhausted, they would often be abandoned in the boxes. Rich pickings for someone prepared to tramp the streets and, if necessary, cross the road to forage. They would come in sets. I remember one celebrating a Pierce Brosnan James Bond film, the name of which escapes me. I would happily try to fill in the gaps for my daughter, proudly presenting them on my return to Lindum house in the evenings. It was a red-letter day when I found one of the first cards ever issued. Since this was some time after its publication, I imagined it had been deposited by a tourist on his or her return to England. I once mentioned this obsession to a friend of mine. Now, these boxes also contained cards of another nature. Often bearing obviously lying glamour photographs, sexual service advertisements were frequently pasted on the walls. My friend got quite the wrong end of the stick and pulled my leg unmercifully. Cursory glances into today’s telephone boxes on my return to Victoria demonstrated that these wares are still being marketed through this medium. Most are now torn off, leaving stubborn fragments attached to the glass. They look rather like a price label attached to a present, or a charity shop paperback, which you cannot completely remove. Whilst carrying out my research I rather hoped that no-one watching would also get the wrong end of the stick.
That early phonecard, issued by BT (which in those days did truly stand for British Telecom) has now been superceded by a myriad of companies issuing cards without a reader; and the mobile phone has severely limited the call for public phone boxes. Louisa eventually also donated that collection to me. I don’t know where it is now.
For this evening’s meal I created a totally new version of chickem jalfrezi. It never is quite the same as previous efforts, but this time it was an almost total invention because I’ve lost the recipe. I’ve made it enough times for that to be no real problem, it just makes for variety. With it, we drank Kingfisher and Cobra 2012.