Last night I finished reading ‘No Cloak, No Dagger’, by Benjamin Cowburn. Geoff Grandfield’s dramatic illustrations perfectly enhance the pages of this Folio Society edition of the author’s reminiscences of ‘Allied Spycraft in Occupied France’ during the Second World War.
The book is well written and without exaggeration records Cowburn’s experiences including being one of the first undercover agents parachuted into unoccupied France progressing to recruiting and organising people and projects. It reads like an adventure, although fraught with danger, carrying a surprising lack of the menace that is captured by the illustrator. Grandfield’s spare style with use of strong silhouettes, blocks of colour, and distorted perspective, manages to be rather more emotional. Not that that is in any way criticism of the writer whose fine detail certainly takes us into wartime France and the lives of those who endured it.
Perhaps it was the description of airborne drops in the book that kept my attention on the skies as I walked this morning down to the Village Green, up the footpath to Bull Lane, and back via Seamans Lane. Or if that’s too fanciful, maybe it was just the threat of further rain that caused me to peer aloft..
‘Little Thatch’ cottage is losing its straw. Even the family of decoy ducks has been stripped. I imagine that when the house was given its name that referred to the size of the building rather than the quantity of its covering.
This afternoon I scanned fifteen of my old negatives, and was able to date and place them in early 1981 at Gracedale Road SW16. Two, of Sam and me, were taken by Jessica. The others, of our son, were taken by me, all, I think, with my Olympus OM2.
In this shot I appear to have been pointing something out to him. Perhaps it was a light bulb, for ‘gigh’ (light) was one of his very first words. He used this when he wanted you to lift him up so he could switch on the light.
Jessica and I bought the dining table in about 1975 from our old manager, Muriel Trapp. It now rests in the sitting room at Sigoules. It was pretty ancient when we bought it, and is rather more so now. I wonder whether there would be a market for it in a retro pub?
I really didn’t need to do much work on these pictures when putting them into iPhoto. No more than a little retouching. What was fascinating, however, was the face recognition facility. If the computer identifies a human face it invites you to enter it into the file. It often goes further than simply asking you for a name. It has a stab at the identity and gives you the option to confirm or deny. If you reject the suggestion you type in the name yourself and hopefully the machine gets it right next time.
In these pictures, my son Sam was only a few months younger than his own daughter Orlaith is now. iPhoto therefore contains pictures of Orlaith contemporary with these. By now you will have guessed that, time and again this afternoon I was asked ‘Is this Orlaith?’ How about my Christmas present picture from the Thompson family?
(Anyone confused about personnel is referred to the family tree)
The last time we met our friends Geoff and Sheila Austin was to share a meal in Ringwood’s Curry Garden. By happy coincidence that is where Jackie and I were dining this evening when I received a text from Geoff offering Ashes jokes, all of which referred to England’s recent comprehensive defeat in Australia. We were flanked, in the restaurant, by couples on either side who happened to be English cricket fans. Those on my right were even in Sydney to witness one of the ignominious disasters for our team. As we were leaving I told this couple the one about the difference between the English batsmen and Cinderella. Jackie told me I should take Cinderella’s advice and know when to leave the ball.
The food, by the way, was as good as ever, and Kingfisher provided our liquid refreshment.