A Greasy Spoon

Barry, of New Forest Chimney Sweeping and Repairs continued today with his work on our kitchen extension roof.

Painstakingly he removed the spent lead flashing and prepared the surfaces for the replacement material.

Only when he was satisfied that he had firm bases did he begin to lay the new lead. This is tough work for one man. The care he takes is patent.

This evening Barry sent me his own photographs of his work, including his earlier project on the Velux window.

Just after lunch, Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited to fix a minor central heating problem.

Four chapters further into ‘Little Dorrit’ I have scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s exemplary illustrations.

Unusually, the text of the page containing ‘A dirty shop-window in a dirty street’, describes a different building, the home of the character in the next illustration. Here we have a poor man’s eating house, the Victorian equivalent of a greasy spoon, namely ‘a small, cheap eatery – either an American diner or coffee shop, or a British or Irish cafe – typically specialising in fried foods and/or home-cooked meals.’ (Wikipedia). During my running days I was a connoisseur of London’s wide-spread finest, such as The Martin CafΓ©

“Mrs Merdle was magnificent’ – and proud of it.

Tobacconists, such as ‘It was a very small establishment’ have all but disappeared from London’s streets except for the West End.

With ‘He was surprised to see a bonnet labouring up the step-ladder’, the artist has split his drawing, and consequently the text, into a diagonal across the spread. It is a measure of Keeping’s consistency that these three characters are each recognisable from their earlier appearances.

This evening we dined on breaded cod and oven chips; cod, asparagus, and pea fishcakes; petits pois; pickled onions and wallies; with which we both drank Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2020


  1. I have done these sorts of lead flashing jobs Derrick, yes they are hard, slow, and requiring great skill and patience… and Barry has accomplished the task perfectly… there is no easy way … there are no short cuts… ..and as they say here in Australia, “Send her down Hughie !!”

  2. Great work, Barry!
    Barry is working so hard I feel guilty…I’ll get up now and go finish my chores for today. πŸ˜‰
    Great action photos of the work being done! Love the coffee-break snack photo! πŸ™‚
    Glad Ronan got some important work done for you, too.
    I always love the Keeping art you share! His illustrations are always keepers! πŸ˜‰ How those 2 drawings are placed on the pages is brilliant!
    Mrs. Merdle does indeed look proud! πŸ™‚
    Often the greasy spoons have the bestest food! πŸ™‚
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚
    PS…when I read your title, I thought maybe your post would be about washing dirty dishes. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€
    PPS…if there are any leftovers of your meal, could you send them my way?!?! Such a yummy meal!!! πŸ™‚

  3. What a great job, Barry! It’s so good to find the right person for a particular job.
    You were so lucky with today’s weather, too – wonderful sun in the progress photos!
    The illustrations are so full of life and detail, as always.
    Those little Tobacconists, like the little sweet shops, with rows upon rows of delights in glass bottles with usefully large lids, were places of awe and wonder. πŸ™‚

  4. I had forgotten about tobacconists which is odd when I frequented so faithfully when I was young and stupid. Goldflake, Passing Clouds, Capstan Full Strength, Woodbine, such enticing names…it’s a wonder that I am still here.

  5. There’s always maintenance needed with the age of our houses. mine is pre-war 1930’s and I assumed yours was of a similar age.

  6. I smiled to see Barry’s little radio tucked up against his work. It’s very much like one I carry with me when I’m working. Mine is a cheap little AM/FM number, and it does just fine. I keep a couple in reserve, since they occasionally go overboard. I’d bet he might have had the experience of having one of his slide off a roof.

  7. Stuffed fillet of veal? That’s an upmarket greasy spoon. What a b—-r of a job for Barry. I, too, noticed he whiles away the time with the little radio (or wireless or trannie, whichever you prefer); and had a laugh at more hair on his face than his head. I suppose while he can keep the latter warm with a beanie, the beard is vital for the face. And what if he needed to wear glasses? They would always be slipping down and getting in the way of his eye protection when welding. Not a straightforward, simple, occupation, hey?

    1. Definitely not simple, Gwen. I can only imagine such things as veal were cheaper in those days. I remember when beef was cheap and chicken expensive. He does have a splendid beard. Thanks very much.

  8. you’re fortunate to have good people to work on your house, Derrick. Barry is no exception. beautiful illustrations! πŸ™‚

  9. My dad was a carpenter in the days when the carpenter built the house from bottom to top, and he usually worked by himself or with one other man. When I was growing up, I took his work for granted. As the years go by, I’m more and more amazed by it, by the hard work in good weather and bad and by all the puzzles he had to figure out and by the very careful work he did. It looks like Barry is also an admirable worker.

  10. Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2020 … a bottle from the millions we are still not allowed to purchase in this country! We are all wondering if the alcohol ban will be lifted after 15th February. We are in for a week of roofing work next month: it will be interesting to see how that turns out πŸ™‚

  11. Barry is one determined doctor of chimneys and rooftops. As for the illustrations of Charles Keeping, I appreciate his consistently exceptional sketches, and the consistency of characters over the course of story. I wish his art were preserved in certain editions so that it could reach the appreciative eyes of a wider readership.

    1. He enjoys it. He has featured on several blog posts, sometimes with his son, Owen. and I always give him a set of A4 prints which he keeps in an album. Thanks very much, Cindy.

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