As He Snivelled Past

Now I have a head cold. Without disagreeing with my doctor’s diagnosis of stress, I am somewhat relieved that the headache at least was brought on by the impending cold. I also know where I contracted it. A young man in the bar at Thursday’s crowded wake, clearly suffering from such an ailment, coughed in my face as he snivelled past me. My resistance was too low to repel that.

Consequently, while Storm Gareth did his best to break through our windows, I spent much of today reading. If I finish the book in time I will feature it tomorrow.

This evening we dined on our second portions of yesterday’ s chicken shaslick meal.

No Passenger Seat Was Vacated

This morning Jackie drove me to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I was relieved to learn that my lingering symptoms are probably due to stress – I can certainly agree with that, and just continue to take it easy.

This afternoon my Chauffeuse took me on a trip to the north of the forest.

A motley array of pigeons set off flying from the colourful tiles of the roof of Moyles Court School as we travelled through Rockford.

In a field across the road the more delicate domestic horses still sported their rugs as protection against the cold nights.

The sturdier New Forest breeds have no need of such raiment.

I closed my window before this chestnut at South Gorley could stick its nose through it.

As always, a pair of mallards took up occupation in a pool at North Gorley.

Donkeys lined the verges at Ibsley and on the Gorley Road,

where deer lounged in the sunshine, also frisking beneath Abbots Well Road,

where grazing ponies enhanced the landscape.

It is normally impossible to stop the car on Roger Penny Way. Today was the exception that enabled me to snatch this shot before following traffic arrived.

No passenger seat was vacated in the making of this post.

This evening we dined on excellent chicken shaslick, salad, and paratha from Forest Tandoori, followed by ginger ice cream.

Magnolia Time

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

The gardens of Sway featured

a flowing stream beyond a lichen tattooed tree in Mead End Road;

a pink magnolia towering over a hedge in Adlam’s Lane;

a magnolia stellata competing with a variegated privet in Brighton Road;

and another pink one stating its ascendancy over a red camellia.

As we set out towards Burley we paused at the obligatory pony crossing.

At Thorney Hill our side of the road was clear, while an unconcerned grey made its leisurely way along the other.

On our return home I ventured into the garden to discover whether our flame red Vulcan magnolia was yet in bloom. It wasn’t, but we still have

camellias, some fallen blooms now adorning the gravel paths; daffodils

a variety of cyclamens


and hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans. The meal was taken from plates on trays in front of the television whilst we watched a recording of the earlier Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France.

The Revolt Of The Angels

This morning I finished reading ‘The Revolt of the Angels, Anatole France’s satirical novel based on a potential re-run of the Christian idea of the war in Heaven between the evil angels of Satan and those of St Michael on the side of good.

Fallen angels are brought to life in cities ancient and modern, and consort with human beings.

We begin with a mysterious chaos in an historic library and follow the tale through the next two hundred years. I will reveal no more of the story, save to say that it is written in the author’s usual flowing prose as ably translated by Mrs Wilfrid Jackson. Mine is the first illustrated edition, produced by The Bodley Head in 1924.

As regular readers will expect, the illustrations are by the estimable Frank C. Papé.

Here are the front board, and

the end papers.

There are the usual 12 plates worthy of close perusal,

and the vignettes at the ends of chapters. I have included a sample of these.

This afternoon I watched the BBC transmission of the Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and Wales.

I settled down to a recording of the England/Italy game after we dined on pizza and salad.

The Funeral

The first stage of Michael’s funeral was the service at Saint Mary the Virgin, Oxted. The coffin was carried in by brothers Matthew and Sam; son Oliver; cousin Mark; brother-in-law, Errol; and Emily’s partner Sam. I walked behind.

The church was packed with representatives of every walk of my son’s life.

Michael’s daughters, Emily and Alice delivered a heartwarming eulogy, whilst not failing to acknowledge the terrible sadness of the event, presenting a real celebration of an exceptional life. They referred to a number of Soho stories such as ‘Rabbits On The Roof’, and recounted some their own memories, as recorded in ‘The Gite From Hell’.

Tender, at a times struggling to continue, their father would have been proud of them.

We then travelled to the crematorium for an emotional committal.

Refreshments were made available at The Black Horse in Reigate. So uplifting was this last stage that I stayed much longer than I had anticipated. Not yet ambulant enough to mill among the throng, I stayed seated, where people of all ages visited for conversation and commiserations. I had the pleasure of recognising many who had shared parts of their childhood with Michael and were now in or on the cusp of middle age. Some spoke of shared moments, some of which I had not remembered myself. Eventually I flaked out and Elizabeth drove me home.

Emily and Alice had compiled a full range of photographs of their Dad which ran in a loop throughout the reception. Many of those in their own memories were taken by Heidi, herself an excellent photographer. My archives were relied upon for Michael’s earlier life.

Here is one of the cheeky little chap when his mother was still alive.

On The Steps

Yesterday I had a lengthy telephone conversation with Emily and Alice who are compiling not only a slideshow of their father, but also an extensive eulogy calling upon a wide array of memories, both from their own lifetimes and from Michael’s earlier days. Their recollections of my house in Sigoules had me searching for this image of us all seated on the steps of No 6, rue Saint Jacques in the summer of 2009. I found it in Elizabeth’s collection ‘Derrick Through The Ages’, produced for my 70th birthday party. This lovely photograph is one of hers.

Looked on by Alice, Oliver caresses PO, the dog from a neighbouring farm adopted by the children. Alice sits on the other side of her Dad.

Otherwise today I preserved my energy for tomorrow’s funeral. Elizabeth, who will be driving me to Oxsted in the morning, made a brief visit to find out how I was.

Later, Jackie and I dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare.