Clear frosty light sreaked across the lawn outside the kitchen window this morning.
I walked through London Minstead to the A337 and back to meet Jackie by Seamans Cottages to be driven to Southampton. In Seamans Lane a boy spun around on a skateboard, as I slid along on the slippery road. A smaller lad was busy cracking the ice on the surfaces of the frozen puddles. Further on another boy bounced up and down on a trampoline in his garden. A cock crew in Hazel Hill Yard where hens seemed to be queueing for his attention. Outside Perry Farm a wagtail shared grazing rights with a forest pony.
The reason we were going to Southampton was to buy some Infected Eye Optrex for my eye which is a bit sore again. Having looked it up on the Internet we saw there was a Boots open in Unit 6 of the dreaded West Quay shopping centre. This being a Sunday that seemed to be our only opportunity. We couldn’t find it. After driving around for an age we saw a Boots sign on the back of a building, drove as near as we could to the front of it, and started to walk to where it should be. Unfortunately we asked a couple if we were on the right track. They were adamant there was no Boots in West Quay. What we had to do was walk to the multistorey carpark, take a lift to the seventh floor, then from there traverse a bridge across the road and into the High Street where we would find the only branch of Nottingham’s finest. It was only five minutes. It was in fact ten, despite the fact that we were hurrying. We queued for the antibiotic which is available without prescription over the counter. The assistant refused to sell it to us because I hadn’t been to a G.P. I exploded. We returned to the car. I had remained convinced that had we walked fifty yards around the corner before asking the couple for directions we would have found the West Quay Boots. I just had to satisfy myself, so we drove around and there it was. Jackie wanted to try our luck there. I didn’t. She was determined to do it even if it meant leaving me in the car. Seeking another parking spot, the next arrow on the tarmac she followed took her out of West Quay and into the main road. Even she had had enough then and we returned empty-handed to Castle Malwood Lodge where we were due to give lunch to Mum and Elizabeth.
I am now firmly of the opinion that anyone wishing to lay out a town in the most confusing manner possible would do well to take inspiration and ideas from Southampton.
After lunch we all visited the fortnightly antiques fair at Minstead Hall where Jackie bought a tablecloth for our new table and three Asterix books, allegedly for visiting children; and Elizabeth bought us housewarming presents of a 1930s wooden jigsaw puzzle and a substantial glass cakestand.
As Mum struggled to her feet from the sofa, I spoke of a game I had played in yesterday’s Santa performance. I would ham up struggling to my feet and stand looking vaguely into the middle distance, carefully not noticing that Lisa and Dan were placing a toy hedgehog on my seat. I would then sit down, feel the prickles on this actually very soft object, and jump up grimacing in pain. I did not repeat the roar that had been a feature of my impersonation of Mr. Bumble, the Beadle from Oliver Twist, of which this little charade reminded us all. When Sam, Louisa, Adam, and Danielle had all been small, they would approach me at the meal table, bowls in hand, and ask: ‘Please, Sir, may I have some more?’. My reply, eyes bulging, red-faced and hoarser and hoarser with each repetition, would be: ‘MAAWWAH?’. And there would be repetitions. As with yesterday’s hedgehog, adults tire of these games much sooner than do children. Mum remembered that when Louisa played Mr. Bumble it could be heard on the other side of Newark.
This evening we revisited Friday’s roast pork; I drank Piccini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2009, and Jackie had some more Three Choirs.