I took an early walk of the postbox loop this morning, and because we were promised intense rain all day from 11 a.m. onwards, settled down to scanning old positive film. In fact the day was extremely dark and dingy with no rain, no light source penetrating, and the forecasters putting forward the timing of the storm by the hour. It began at 5 p.m.
My last foray into my ‘posterity’ archives produced a colour slide of Vivien, Michael, and friends from the Yorkshire Insurance Company.
Mike Vaquer, one of those present, took this one of our little family in May 1964.
It won’t need very close inspection to see one of my cauliflower ears, the result of binding down in the second row of the scrum, and grating them against props’ thighs. I am happy to say that once my playing days were over these blemishes subsided somewhat. I also appear to look rather like Jack Palance, but I think my broken nose is simply a trick of the light. Palance was an American professional heavyweight boxer of the early 1940s who became a film actor with a career spanning fifty years. He had great presence.
Archie, an appropriately named architect, was our neighbour in Gracedale Road in the 1980s. On our first meeting in the street, I glanced at this South African born giant’s ears and asked: ‘Second row?’. ‘You too?’, he replied, nodding. We hadn’t even mentioned rugby. I wouldn’t have fancied my chances against him.
Three months after the family shot was taken, we visited my grandparents in Staines. Grandma is seen here among Grandpa’s roses giving Michael his first taste of ice cream. Just as I had been Annie Hunter’s first grandchild, my son Michael was the first of her next generation of offspring. My sister Elizabeth, photographed on the same day, looks as if I probably prevailed upon her to admire another rose as a prop.
Three years on, in July 1967, I discovered St Botolph’s Church at Hardham in East Sussex. A simple two-cell stone building of very early Norman style that is Grade 1 listed, this place of worship, dating from the 12th century, contains the earliest almost complete series of wall paintings in England, and in particular the earliest reproductions of St George, the patron saint of England. Like many such wall decorations these lay under whitewash for centuries until they were uncovered in 1866.
Wishing to photograph the paintings in natural light with my Olympus OM2, I only found one scene that I thought would be in receipt of sufficient illumination. To me, at that time, it was just a man with a rather long spear on horseback. The light coming from the single east window on that day must have been shining on me as well, for I had unwittingly photographed St George fighting at Antioch in 1098, at which engagement he was believed to have made a miraculous appearance to help the Crusaders, about which I have only read comparatively recently. Here he smites the infidels with a lance. He was thought to have turned the battle.
We dined this evening on roast pork and the vegetables you see here. The crackling was crisp, crunchy and scrumptious. Spicy bread pudding and custard was to follow. I finished a bottle of the Bergerac.
Should you wish to emulate the crackling of the woman I am fortunate enough to have cooking for me,
The method is:
Rub salt into the skin some hours beforehand. Roast the joint on very low heat, gas mark 1-2 or 150C for about three hours. Then for the last 20/30 minutes turn the heat up to the maximum when the crackling will bubble up and live up to its name.
Jackie says that had she know this meal would be on display she would not have served the roast potatoes and parsnips in the dish in which she cooked them.