Taking a slightly longer route to Colliers Wood to visit Carol, I walked down Morden Road and turned right into Merton High Street.
British Summer Time not yet being over, and it being what Larry Grayson would have called ‘a grey day’ anyway, it was, at 8.30 a.m., still quite dark. Somnambulant pedestrians ambled along, whilst young children ‘creeping like snail’ or being dragged along, trekked ‘unwillingly to school’. Some, clutching the sides of buggies, struggled, uncertain of step, to keep pace with their younger siblings comfortably esconced.
A welcoming luminous glow emanated from cafes whose occupants were dozing over breakfast. On the low brick wall opposite the Civic Centre several smokers were seated, some, no doubt, having a drag on their last fag before boarding the tube. Sleepy customers were propping up the forecourt pillars watching for buses. Others were waiting for shops to open or collecting cash from the dispensers.
The street lamps had been extinguished some time ago, but, on the left hand side of Morden Road the red tail lights of vehicles trailed along. Pale yellow headlights shone on the right. This colourful composition was syncopated by the alternating green and amber of the traffic lights. Passengers streamed up the steps of the tram stop, and rushed towards Morden, some possibly to open up the shops. Others were strung out hoping for buses, the first of which was due in eight minutes.
A crocodile of schoolchildren, two by two; chaperoned by teaching assistants, one, heavily pregnant bringing up the rear; filed into South Wimbledon tube station.
On the crowded platform at Victoria a minuscule young oriental woman cannoned into me from behind, bouncing off. ‘Sorry’, she said as she squirmed past and wriggled into a packed compartment. As she stood, facing outwards, no doubt hoping the closing doors would leave her feet intact and press her into the mass of passengers behind, I gave her a soft smile which seemed somewhat to assuage her embarrassment. Rie, you are perhaps familiar with this method of boarding trains.
Mention of Eccleston Square in my conversation with Carol reminded me of Auntie Gwen (see post of 3rd July) and her papal medal. My godmother had worked for more than fifty years in the Pontifical Mission Aid Society in that street. For this she had received her treasured commendation, which I had inherited, and which was, I believe, stolen in a burglary at Lindum House, along with a fob watch my father had given me. I cannot be sure that is when I lost these heirlooms because I did not miss them until some time after this rapacious intrusion. What was obviously missing was a rosewood wine table and a small reproduction station clock given to Jessica and me by seventeen-year-old Michael.
Three days after our return from holiday Jessica spotted the table on a stall in Newark Market. Soon after we arrived in this historic market town in 1987 I bought this table from Joan Stevenson in the Old Chapel antiques centre. We did not know each other at the time, because we had bought the house from the Kings who had only been there four years; but Joan and Ralph had brought their family up in this splendid Victorian house. Jessica called the constabulary, and the stallholder admitted also to having the clock, so these two articles were returned to us. When I told Joan this story she said that she was most relieved, for she had noticed the table on the stall and imagined that we had sold it because we hadn’t liked it. She explained that it clearly belonged in our home, as she had bought it from previous occupants who had lived there for thirty years before she and her husband had acquired the house. It must have had a mind of its own. Neither the burglars nor their fence can have been very bright.
The table and clock are two of the very few items I was able to bring to London when I left Lindum House.
This evening we dined on resuscitated cottage pie and phoenix-like bread and butter pudding (see post of two days ago). I finished the Lidl Bordeaux and Jackie had another glass of Wickham Celebration.