Fence cloudscape

Continuing with my scanner compatibility problem I telephoned Epson, to learn that the two different downloads Apple advisors had sent me were incorrect.  I dragged those into the trash, and the Epson man sent me another which worked.  It is not quite the same as I’m used to, but I’m getting there.  I have scanned and enhanced the two earlier photographs from Elizabeth’s series, but have decided not to change them in the posts, as it is all part of the story.  Not only that, I can’t be bothered.

Rugby front rowWhile doing this I received an e-mail attachment of an inspiring photograph from my friend Geoff Austin.  Well into his sixties he turned out at the weekend in the front row of the scrum for an Old Whitgiftian testimonial match.  The mud on the hooker’s face is reminiscent of the many muddy hours I spent in the second row in my thirties and forties rubbing my ears against Geoff’s thighs. Purely in order to raise cauliflowers, you understand.  Like me, Geoff can be identified by a white beard.  Before my short-lived first retirement, from the Old Wimbledonians, in 1972, at the age of thirty, I was joined in the second row by a sixty five year old who had been pulled out of the spectators to fill a gap.  I’d always thought our combined age took some beating, but I think Geoff and his colleagues have probably pipped it.  Although we turned out regularly for Geoff’s Old Boys  team every week, Alan Warren, another member of our Social Services Area Team, and I, could not at first appear on a team sheet.  This is because we had never attended Whitgift School.  Geoff had inveigled us into playing one day when his XV was a player or two short.  So I got my boots out again and didn’t put them away until we moved to Newark in 1987.  Forty five seemed to be a bit old to join a new club.  Not too old to be playing, of course.

What Geoff forgot to mention was that the lower sides of his club were always a player or two short.  But Alan and I could not officially make up the numbers, because this organisation was a closed club.  This meant we outsiders could not join.  After a game or two with the fourth team, we became regulars with the third.  At about the time I had gravitated to the second side and was being considered for the first, the fact that this was all unofficial and required some steadfast members to be kept in the dark, suggested something must be done.  Alan and I were duly made Associate Members of The Old Whitgiftians Association.  That meant we had to pay subscriptions, but it was a small price to pay.  For me to play for the first XV remained, however, out of the question

Jackie and I moved more belongings into the garage today.  I then ordered some bookcases from IKEA on line.  When asked for my feedback on the remarkably smooth process, I commented that it ‘beats trailing round the store’.

HailBefore venturing for a walk to the church and back via the ford footpath, I waited for the hail to stop.  John, who was mowing the lawn when the thunderous storm came, was forced to divert his attention to raking gravel.  By the time I returned there had been no further precipitation, and our gardener was continuing to mark the centuries old rocky, undulating moss-covered lawns with perfect mowed lines.  John mowingThis man, once a week in the summer and fortnightly thereafter, works like a Trojan on this four acre communal plot.  When we first arrived in November his task was clearing the fallen leaves.  It was then that Jackie gave him his nickname, not Trojan, but Greek.  In that country’s mythology, Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra who was punished by the gods, being given the task of pushing a huge boulder uphill.  Whenever he reached the top the stone rolled back down again.  As John was blowing together one pile of leaves, others were torn down by gusts of wind and followed on after him.  And of course his pile was blown about as well.  Do it all again was the order of the day.  A nice simile.  John will be forever Sisyphus.

As I rounded the house, approaching the back door, I sensed wonderful curry smells.  Not imagining I could be given a brilliant chicken jalfrezi, such as to do all the local restaurants out of my business, so soon after a chilli con carne, I wondered who else in the building enjoyed and cooked such food.  The anwer was no-one.  Jackie was cooking our evening meal which she later served up with pudding rice to follow.  I started on an excellent Bouchard Aine & Fils red burgundy harvested in 2010.  Thank you Helen and Bill for this Christmas gift.


  1. What a lovely home–is this the one your noted once that you have sold or the one protected or hidden or, well, overtaken by your fascinating garden? Fun post to read despite having barely followed the interesting sports narrative…is that about rugby or ? Oh dear, sorry for that ignorance!

    1. Thank you, Cynthia. We rented in Minstead while we were looking for a place to buy. It is a magnificent building, once owned by a Victorian Chancellor, and now split into 27 apartments. Yes, the game is rugby.

  2. The father of a friend of mine played well into his senior years. The family were very much against it as he still played like he thought he was twenty. The final disgrace came when he went to Spain on tour in his seventies and came back, as did most of the others, with the club badge tattooed on his bottom.

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