In December 1963 the lights in Regent St were treated to general maintenance or maybe just the attention of a window cleaner from his gondola. I was able to capture this for today’s advent picture. Anyone who has received a handwritten missive from me will know that: This does sometimes result in unfortunate inky fingers, and is awkward for anyone left-handed attempting to add her signature to a Christmas card which still bears wet lettering, but I think nostalgia is worth the risk.
If your fingers do become pigmented in this way, and you are using blue ink, it is advisable not, unless you have a knife and fork to hand, to accept a Welsh rarebit made with Cheddar cheese, otherwise the topping is quite quickly inclined to resemble Stilton. Incidentally this selfie (a word too up-to-date for my last year’s iMac, which insisted on underlining it in red), took a certain amount of sinister dexterity.
If you drop a full bottle of washable writing fluid down the trousers of your best dry clean only suit, that gives you a real problem when the professionals can’t eradicate it. Four years ago mine had to be written off altogether. That, of course, required no ink.
Back to the point. Although I write my cards with a fountain pen, I normally address the envelopes in biro in case it rains. The ink for the pen is washable, so it will run if it gets wet and the sorting office won’t be able to decide where to send the envelope. At midday today I was to regret having deviated from my normal practice yesterday in order to avoid crossing the room for a ballpoint. This is because I walked down to the postbox in steady rain to deliver another batch of cards to the box at Seamans Lane. I had to find a little plastic bag in which to wrap them.
On Running Hill a certain amount of feller’s debris on the tarmac; a new heap of logs, and a gap in the foliage, on the verge suggested another tree had come down during last night’s powerful winds. As usual, it had been removed post haste.
There is probably nothing more disappointing for someone who has spent all day setting up festive lighting than to find a set failing when switching them on the next morning. Especially when that particular string is about ten feet off the floor. This, of course is what happened. Close inspection revealed that the transformer was faulty. Although the bulbs were fine, you can’t buy a transformer without another set of these. So, especially as Helen had suggested we may not have enough lights, a replacement was required. Off, therefore, we figuratively trotted to Totton where we bought some more in the Poundstretcher shop. And a few more things, while we were there, in Lidl.
Once the repair job had been completed Jackie decorated the hall in a similar vein.
This evening Family House in Totton were hosting a private function. We were unable to go there and settled for the Lotus Chinese restaurant in New Milton which Jackie once patronised with her mother. She remembered it from ten years ago as providing not first rank, but good enough, food circa 1956. Nothing, apparently had changed, except that there may have been more layers of grime on the higher positioned ornaments.
They do not stand on ceremony at Lotus; more a question of lying down on it. Not until we were leaving did the rather taciturn yet friendly-ish waiter reveal himself to be quite a conversationalist. Neither possessed of a trolley nor long arms, he brought out each item of food individually and dumped them on the table. The starters of splendid spare ribs and prawn toast made up for what was lacking in presentation; as did the prawn chop suey; sweet and sour pork; beef in black bean sauce; and special fried rice. We drank T’sing Tao beer which came in small bottles plonked alongside half pint glasses embossed with the word Strongbow. I settled for one drink because to have asked for another would have involved disturbing the one staff member’s newspaper reading, and that didn’t seem quite fair.
As we entered, our host had turned on a portable CD player so that we could be entertained by a lilting soprano voice which was much more pleasant than the shriller version it might have been. When it got a bit wobbly just before the end, he rose from his chair and set it back at the beginning.
Admittedly it was a wet early Sunday evening, but we were the only diners. On the positive side, the two men who came in for takeaway meals knew the waiter well and had good talks with him. On our departure he asked if we were local, and pressed for my former mother-in-law’s name because he said he knew those of most of his customers. He was the man Jackie remembered, but Mum Rivett didn’t go there on her own.
Driving through Lyndhurst on our way home, we admired the Christmas lights, nicely enhanced by the wet roads.