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Yesterday afternoon we drove to Elizabeth’s at West End to collect her and go together to The First Gallery at Bitterne to visit the exhibition of woodcuts by Jutta Manser and paintings by Kevin Dean, in conjunction with Margery Clarke’s open studio.
A random selection of the work on display in ‘Scene and Imagined’ includes
‘Royal Pier Gatehouse’ by Kevin Dean;
‘Once in a Blue Moon’ by Jutta Manser;
Jutta’s ‘When Shall We Three’,
‘April July’ – one of several woodcuts reminiscent of Agnes Miller Parker –
and ‘And The Evening and The Morning were The First Day’;
Kevin’s ‘Oriental Poppies’;
‘Bruno Playing’, a pen drawing by Margery;
‘Sisyphus’, humorously hung at an angle,
and ‘Summer Blues’ all by Jutta;
‘Russian Circus’ from Kevin;
and Jutta’s ‘Cutting Edge 20,000 BC.
We were treated to a fascinating display of Jutta’s Tools of The Trade, including beautiful avian drawings in a sketchbook, woodblocks, pins, pencils, and cutting implements;
whilst upstairs we were invited into Margery’s studio.
Jackie bagged Jutta’s ‘Sunflowers’ for her birthday in June. I bought it knowing full well I will have, albeit intentionally, forgotten it by then.
Memory was to become a minor theme of the day. A group of us at the end of the event sat with Margery, having a wide-ranging discussion, which, prompted by recent discoveries concerning mice, possibly helpful to understanding dementia, led to the subject of memory. The capacities of each us were very varied. I made the rash statement that everyone remembers their first day at school. Jackie and I were the only two who did. I found that surprising.
We took Elizabeth back to her car. She collected Mum, and the four of us met and dined in The Farmer’s Home pub in Durley. As always, this led to much reminiscing. Our mother asked if we remembered the flats in Wyke Road. We did, and Jackie even remembered the name of the block that occupied most of the side of the road opposite the railway tracks leading to Raynes Park Station. It was, and still is, Langham Court, which is fronted by a low brick wall topped by stone coping. Tailor-made for little boys to walk along. Well, what else could it be for?
I said I had a story about Langham Court. Elizabeth and Jackie had not heard it, and Mum could not remember it. I did. It is not every day your mother takes on a big hairy caretaker.
Chris and I were about 6 and 8. Wyke Road is situated at the end of Stanton Road, where we lived. In those days it was perfectly acceptable for children to play in side streets devoid of motor cars. Naturally we trotted along the coping stones. The aforesaid big hairy man tore across the lawn in a rage, turfed us off the wall, and terrified the life out of us. We ran home and told our Mum.
Now, the caretaker was frightening enough. But can you imagine a tigress defending her cubs? That gets near. Trying desperately to keep up with Mum we were dragged back up to the flats. I don’t remember the exact words of the ensuing conversation, but I do remember the sound of the slap. I don’t think the gentleman ever accosted us again.
Of course, as was described in the conversation at the Gallery, different people have different memories of the same event, so it is possible that I invented or embroidered this. Nevertheless I only had two glasses of the Rio Alto Merlot 2016 I shared with Elizabeth at our meal. Mum drank orange juice and Jackie chose diet coke. Mum ate poached salmon with new potatoes and carrots, while the rest of enjoyed Sunday roasts with all the trimmings; Jackie’s was pork, while Elizabeth and I chose lamb. Mum’s dessert was Eton Mess and the rest of us had lemon meringue pie.
This morning, Jackie and I continued with the garden tidying. I dug and chopped out a stubborn young self-seeded bay tree.
This evening we dined on roast chicken thighs served on a bed of onions, peppers and garlic with a sprinkling of sage; creamy mashed potato, spring greens and runner.beans. I drank Château Caillavet Bordeaux 2010, and Jackie didn’t because she had consumed her quota of Hoegaarden on the patio before dinner.