A Knight’s Tale (71: Chinese Boxes)

From our sitting room we could peer through two windows into a kitchen that appeared also to contain bunk beds.

I photographed the scene in November 1976. Chopping of food took place all through the night.  This somewhat interfered with sleep.  In the early hours of one morning Jessica lost patience and rather politely called out asking the choppers to desist.  The reply was: ‘We’ve been here fifty years.  If you don’t like it, move.’ We did so in 1980, but before then,

this was our sitting room. I still have the rocking chair which was a favourite seat. The brown velvet trousers mentioned in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/07/a-knights-tale-60-i-come-a-cropper/, much patched, are now long gone.

Michael’s use of Chinese boxes is featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/17/a-knights-tale-66-horse-and-dolphin-yard/

I used them as bookshelves. My collection was moved to our next home in Gracedale Road, SW16.

Here Jessica, Louisa, and Sam are seen in front of them in 1984. When our son was about the age that Louisa is here, my Dad, concerned about having witnessed the toddler’s one attempt to scale the stacks, arrived with a drill and a set of screws with which he fixed the rather higgledy piggledy shelves to the wall. We learned later that our purchaser, when he sold the house some years afterwards, claimed to have constructed my library repository himself, and turned it into a selling point.


  1. Nice photos, Derrick. I had the exact same mustache in the early 1980s and nearly as much hair as you did. I’m almost bald these days! ?

  2. No matter how humble the abode – or the bookshelves – books lining the walls make it a home. My first bookshelves consisted of planks and bricks.

  3. So many treasured memories. Great pictures as well. The little girl with the hole in her stockings, the boy’s face….priceless. And you sir, rocked the 70’s look, down to the leather watch and the white shirt with wide sleeves. 🙂 ???

  4. What beautiful photos and memories! Love the photos with the children in them! Love those precious smiles! 🙂
    You look like a Musketeer…ready for your next adventure! 😉
    A good appreciated rocking chair is the bestest! I still have the one I rocked my babies in…it’s over 42 years old now. 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  5. Your hair was gorgeous! The box bookshelves were an ingenious home improvement – much better than my cinder blocks and planks. The children must have known, on some level, that books are important. I’m curious about the candleholder and artifacts on the shelf behind Jessica.

  6. The nightime chopping makes perfect sense to me. It was no doubt preparation for the next day — a way of getting ahead of the game. As for that header photo, you’re sporting the kind of hair I always longed for but never achieved!
    The bookshelves are Ikea before Ikea. I once created end tables and a coffee table by stacking books together on the floor and then covering them with a cloth.

  7. I hope you are doing well, Derrick. You’re lucky to have such a treasure trove of photos from your past. I’m glad they’ve been preserved so you could share them here. I feel as though I’ve missed a few chapters…I don’t recall Jessica from other posts. I’ll try to find some links back.

    My best to you and Jackie.

  8. I will tell you the day I had my hair and beard cut when I get to the point. It will be part of the series on Johnsstorybook.wordpress.com. But there’s a bit to be said in the meantime. But I must admit my hirsute attachment was nowhere near as grand as yours. Yours was spectacular.

  9. I wish the chef at our onsite restaurant would do some food prep. Just not at two in the morning.
    I notice Andrew Petcher has also commented on the likeness to Cat Stevens. I’m trying to picture what your welfare clientele made of the look. Very dashing I must say.
    And you’ve reminded me that when I was a single lady, I made my own set of bookshelves custom fitted to a niche in the wall. Being in a partnership is great, but I have come to rescind much of my self-starter stuff. Jackie, though, has retained her all round turn of hand.

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