A Day Of Two Casseroles

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton Station today to facilitate my visit to Wolf and Luci in Clapham. From Waterloo I took the Northern Line underground to Clapham South and walked from there to Hambalt Road. I returned via Clapham Common.

‘Mister God, this is Anna’, by Sydney Hopkins under the pseudonym Fynn is a beautiful fable about a little girl whose ‘middle’ or essential spiritual core enables her to bear and surmount her experience as an abused runaway.

On my up journey today I finished reading ‘I Belong to No One’ by Gwen Wilson. What makes this personal memoir stand out is that the author is gifted writer whose creativity shines through her story told with deep honesty about her own feelings, and a sensitivity to those who fell short in caring for, or mistreated, her.

Albeit on the other side of the world, I have considerable knowledge of the contemporary social circumstances, ignorance, and legal constraints about which Gwen writes so eloquently.

The dramatic cover photograph does depict the despair the author describes, but what is demonstrated throughout the book is the author’s ‘middle’. Her story is for her to tell, so I will repeat none of it here, but simply urge you to read for yourself.

We have learned much since the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless Gwen Wilson has appended an important epilogue.

The route I chose to walk this lunch-time took me along Clapham Common South Side, where skeletal trees provide a backdrop for the busy traffic.

Despite the careful maintenance of the houses on the side streets, such as these in Lynette Avenue,

you never know what you might find dumped on the pavements.

The Coach House in Shandon Road seems to have been converted into a home.

Other frontages bear the elegant detail of an earlier, more decorative age.

It must be thirty years or so that Abbeville Road has been experiencing the gentrification that brings trendy eating places.

Here is Hambalt Road.

I enjoyed a pleasurable visit with my friends, and the benefit of Luci’s excellent lamb casserole, boiled potatoes and mashed winter vegetables, followed by delicious fruit crumble. She and I drank a very good Kumala cabernet sauvignon shiraz 2013.

On my return walk a screeching and squawking heard above the roar of the traffic on the other side of the road outside Lambeth College emanated from a London Plane in which a pair of parakeets sent a squirrel scarpering.

Just before I reached the tube station the pedestrian crossing  had been closed on account of water main works which are a not unusual sight in our capital.

I can’t pretend to understand this advance warning on the main road. I don’t imagine it really has anything to do with the people of Finland. Is it to be abandoned on the given date, because of engineering problems? Any ideas?

On my return home, the smell of Jackie’s sublime boeuf bourguignon was too much for me to resist having a small portion. I passed on dessert and wine.


  1. Ah yes street signs sent to confuse us. Designed by the had of thinking. And do feel free to murder the blessed parakeets – they are single handedly destroying the indigenous population of birds around here.

  2. I would be happy to eat casseroles for breakfast lunch and dinner and have done so, though probably not on the same day 🙂 Thank you for that road sign –it’s a change from the ones I receive by email, usually from China. At least English is not their first language. I often wonder how many of those who laughed at them can read Chinese, let alone write a sign in that language.

  3. Somehow the Starbucks signage seems to out of place – to modern for an elegant village street. Another great day and then to walk into the door and smell “Jackie’s sublime boeuf bourguignon” – hard to resist all the way from TX. Thanks for the book recommendation, sounds like one to put on my list of reads.

    1. Hello Mary, here is a SHAMELESS piece of self-promotion. You can get your hands on the paperback through Book Depository at a good price and delivery free http://www.bookdepository.com/I-Belong-No-One-Gwen-Wilson/9781409164890. Or the eBook is on AmazonUS, just search on “I belong to no one gwen wilson”. On the other hand, if you are anywhere near Little Elm, my friend Lilly would be glad to lend you a copy! I do hope you read it and give me your honest opinion of how well it relates to US readers, as I do hope Hachette/Orion secure me a deal there one of these days. best regards Gwen

  4. I recall the book by Fynn–very moving, indeed. The second I must look up sometime. I do appreciate that readers and writers are tackling these topics more the past few decades so others may better understand and experience compassion, too.

    1. Hi Cynthia, I think you are in the States? You can get your hands on the paperback through Book Depository at a good price and delivery free http://www.bookdepository.com/I-Belong-No-One-Gwen-Wilson/9781409164890. Or the eBook is on AmazonUS, just search on “I belong to no one gwen wilson”. As I mentioned to Mary (above), I would be pleased to hear opinions from US readers as to whether the story/voice resonates with them or not. best regards Gwen

  5. I agree with the American from Texas, the Starbucks sticks out like a blueberry in a pan of milk. The old-time coffee in American diners was terrific, and I miss that.

  6. I really like the way the shops look side by side with apartments on top of them. Our brother lives in a place like this. The street is always full of people and fun 🙂

  7. I was rather amused more at your editing and commenting, then had to go back and look at the photographs! You found a great set of trees silhouettes and nice homes. Hangers look like a move in or move out situation. I am glad you noted the Finnish sign and how about Finland? Have you ever been? I have an old family book from Sweden Grandpa came from there, fjords and boats, “shaggy” wooden homes. 🙂 Lovely post, Derrick.

  8. If 2 casseroles are the cuisine of the country – I’d be happy to have them!! Sounds like you you enjoyed yourself!! The Starbucks people are being rude by not blending in with the atmosphere, standing out like a sore thumb, ugh!

  9. That is one of those errors thats looks correct if you stare at it long enough, but it still feels wrong. I think my eye is twitching.

    You may have convinced me to try traveling abroad. I’d love to walk that neighborhood, or one like it.

  10. I suppose everyone will focus on the sign. While funny, it would be merely mysterious / surreal if we were not able to supply the missing explanatory words (“Works are” due to… ).
    This shows our reliance on machines: once, sign-writers would have had a flawless grasp of their native tongue; now, companies can assign this work to any member of their team who can use a computer. Intriguingly, there’s nothing here that a spell-checker (or a grammar-checker) would pick up: the writer has even got the most important bit of the message (the date) first, AND correctly used “advance” (I see numerous “advanced” warnings around — presumably they’ve got a degree? [In soshology? Or is that too below the belt, Derrick?]) What it needs is a sense-checker, combined with a left-field sense-of-humour checker, so instead of being all superior, get designing: you’re a man of words :-). You didn’t comment on the “alternate” route in the other sign. Does that mean there are two, of which each successive user must take the other?
    Further, wouldn’t we prefer the occasional one of these mistakes and the consequent volumes of ‘howler’ books (e.g. Geoffrey Parsons’ “Funny Ha-Ha and Funny Peculiar”) to a world devoid of such things?
    Has anyone else seen the “Helping Bury Animals” picture circulating on Facebook (it shows the staff of the city of Bury’s RSPCA shop, a charity against animal cruelty, standing outside with this slogan emblazoned above their shopfront. “Helping Bury’s Animals, or “helping Bury animals” would have avoided the misinterpretation).
    Love the architecture of the terraces, especially the first floor design.
    The wire coat-hangers are quite hard to obtain, so I hope some craft=oriented person grabbed them.

      1. What DID you read, the? And how did that get you into social work? (perhaps a subject for a quiet “news” day?)

        1. I didn’t go to Uni. Family needed me to work. Seconded for Training on a course which only later became post-graduate. By that time I was part time on the staff, so neither I nor the founder could have gained a place. Although there was a sociology sequence we believed English Lit was the most relevant to working with people

  11. That sign is brilliant. Made me chuckle. You’d think that these things would be checked before ‘publication’ wouldn’t you?! As for parakeets, couldn’t agree more.

  12. Reblogged this on The Reluctant Retiree and commented:
    I am very grateful to fellow blogger Derrick Knight for reading I Belong to No One and talking about it in his recent post. Doesn’t the cover draw the eye on this post! Derrick’s career was in Social Work and personal therapy, and he chaired three adoption/fostering panels. So glad my memoir passed muster with him! The UK sales are going well, both eBook and Paperback. My publisher and agent are delighted, and they are not easily impressed. Thanks to everyone for such support. It’s available from all High Street bookshops, Tesco, and the regular online retailers if you would like to take a peek.

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