Hollow Post On Fire

I’m doing my best to rest my right shoulder today, which severely limited my angles of focus as I held my 35 mm lens to photograph

some garden views on my way to examine

the last of the Head Gardener’s incineration, to which I could make no contribution. The pictures show the final demise of a hollow wisteria arbour post.

I also cannot type much, but the images are all labelled in the galleries.

This afternoon Joe and Angela visited for my brother to sign the final Probate Application forms and to have dinner with us; Elizabeth joined us later and we enjoyed a few pleasant hours together. Angela brought Jackie a beautiful pearl and green gemstone necklace from China, various plant pots, and some of her authentic spring rolls.

The Culinary Queen provided what our sister-in-law called a Saturday, as oppose to a Sunday, roast lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, multi-coloured carrots, green Brussels sprouts, white cauliflower – all cooked to perfection – with tasty gravy, followed by a fruit meringue and mince pies. Elizabeth, Angela, and I drank Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2020, Joseph drank Kopparberg alcohol free cider, and Jackie drank alcohol free Nozeco; the last two produced by Angela. Elizabeth brought the red wine.

Traffic Control Duties

On the morning of a very dull day we cleared much more of the wisteria arbour. We have now realised that the plant itself held the posts in check, thus protecting the greenhouse and the potted plants. Jackie carefully extricated the beams from the clutches of the heavily pruned wisteria, and, apart from a couple returning the security service,

we transported them to the stack we have at the far end of the garden beside the orange shed. The very long one required two of us to carry it. On the way along the Gazebo Path I lost my balance and fell to the ground. My unharmed right elbow landed on the border stone and sent a shock up my arm to my shoulder. After lying on my back for a while I managed to get to my feet with the aid of a chair Jackie brought me. I shifted another couple of beams then called it a day. My shoulder hurts so I am looking after it.

After lunch we drove to Streets ironmongers in Brockenhurst where Jackie bought firelighters and a few other items. We continued further into the forest.

Despite the pewter dome placed over the autumn colours of the woodland, they were not to be dimmed.

Evidence of the very recent breaking of a splendid beech tree was presented in the form of recently sawn logs and their dust around the roots.

Ponies at East Boldre were on

hedge clipping,

grass cutting, and traffic control duties.

The waterlogged corner at St Leonards Road still provides cold soup for the animals.

This evening we dined on pork spare ribs, hot and spicy prawns, and Jackie’s flavoursome omelette-topped savoury rice with which she finished the Chardonnay and I finished the Douro.

A Knight’s Tale (67: “Don’t Turn Round”)

Following the captured boy featured in my last episode I found another reason for a foray into neighbouring premises.

As shown in this very small header picture taken from Wikipedia, Horse and Dolphin Yard is entered beneath an extension of the corner building which spans the De Hems pub and what, in those days was a blue cinema.  In the room above, Chinese men played Mah Jongg whilst Michael and his friend Eddie played football in the yard.  The window to the room where the men played was usually open, and the clattering of the tiles went on all night.  We were quite used to it so it wasn’t a problem.  One day one of the boys kicked the ball through the window.  It came back slashed.  This rather upset me, so, carrying the deflated rubber, I marched round into Gerrard Street, steaming.  These buildings are veritable rabbit warrens, so I had to find the room.  I did this by entering an open door and wending my way up stairs and through dingy corridors full of doors containing individual yale locks.  The clattering of tiles led me to my goal.  Football in hand I strode in.  The room was bare, with a few chairs against an unpapered wall.  In the centre was the games table which contained what seemed a great deal of currency notes piled up by the tiles.  It was surrounded by Chinese men who met my question ‘who did this?’ with determined silence.  David, one of the oriental gentlemen who was very friendly in the pub remained deadpan when I appealed directly to him. After several repetitions and no alteration in the stony faces, I hurled the ball into the centre of the table scattering both money and tiles.  As I turned round and marched away, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.  I realised I had probably been asking for trouble.  ‘Don’t turn round.  Don’t turn round’, I said to myself.  Miraculously I was unmolested, and Matthew and I have been able to dine out on the story ever since.

Really Faster Broadband

A Kelly telephone engineer visited at 7.50 a.m. this morning to install the new faster Broadband. Max of Peacock Computers had not been told, and, of course, wasn’t likely to be available at that time. I was forced to dash upstairs in my dressing gown and don some clothes.

The plan had been that Max would meet the engineer at the house with the new router with which to set up our service. Peacock’s man phoned the supplier at lunchtime when he learned what had happened. Less than an hour later he arrived with the router and worked his magic.

First he activated the Broadband and checked that all was well.

Then he synchronised the TV and the laptops.

In the meantime, Jackie cleared more of the wisteria and

trimmed Paul’s Scarlet rose.

I had moved the patio chairs to their winter quarters between our house and the fence shared with North Breeze.

All today’s photographs uploaded like a dream.

This gave me the confidence to scan another five of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations to ‘Dombey and Son’.

The passive desolation of disuse was everywhere silently manifest’

‘Florence wept long and bitterly’

‘The shutters were not yet taken down’

‘The major wafted a kiss to Cleopatra’

‘An old, worn, yellow, nodding woman, huddled up, like a slovenly bundle’

Although these pages uploaded swiftly and smoothly, I struggled to entitle the images. I am assuming that that remains a WordPress glitch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s very savoury rice topped with a fluffy omelette; and two preparations of prawns, namely hot and spicy and tempura. The Culinary Queen drank more of the Chardonnay while I drank more of the Douro.

Incineration Completed

This morning I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/17/a-knights-tale-66-horse-and-dolphin-yard/

Jackie continued with the garden refuse incineration and after lunch

we emptied the last of the compost bags’ twiggy bits onto the middle bin to let them dry out before finally burning them; then carried half a dozen of the now empty bags to leave them at our free horse manure source in South Sway Lane. The yellow plank on the compost bin was the wonky mantelpiece we replaced soon after we arrived seven years ago.

Opposite the horse field in the lane a young copper beech was lit by the low sun.

We popped into Kitchen Makers where we delivered Richard’s jacket that he had left behind yesterday, then continued into the forest.

A bush of holly berries nodded to a tree draped with poppies of remembrance in Church Lane.

As we left Brockenhurst a silhouetted pony ambled across the road. Jackie parked on a patch of gravel beside the speed limit sign while I photographed

this animal and its companions against the still lowering sun.

Mushrooms grew on the verges of Sandy Down.

Wintery sunset signalled its approach from behind trees at Norley Wood.

This evening we dined on slow roasted belly of pork with crunchy crackling and Bramley apple sauce; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; tender runner beans; firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots, and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank more of the Chardonnay, and I drank Azinhaga de Ouro 2019.

A Knight’s Tale (66: Horse And Dolphin Yard)

In 1975 Jessica, Michael, and I settled in Horse and Dolphin Yard in the centre of London’s Chinatown.

This photograph of Jessica reflected in the Peel Boys’ Club taken in July that year suggests that our move took place in the summer. The flat was one of two in an historic courtyard building owned by the City of Westminster, and obtained for me by Bill Ritchie, then Director of Social Services. The ground floor was dedicated as a storeroom to the parks and gardens department. There followed five Soho years during which a mine of stories was quarried.

It was probably in 1976 that Jessica photographed me with, from left to right, Pete, Michael, Matthew, and Becky. This was the one occasion on which I visited a favourite family holiday resort mentioned in my last episode – too basic for me. There was no running water, which was gained by means of a cold pipe on the hillside; everything was damp; you had to walk past next door’s chained up snarling dogs straining to get at you, and dig a pit every morning in which to bury the contents of the primitive Elsan. The family loved it.

Pete lived in an estate opposite us at The Peel. He and Michael became friends there and continued their relationship afterwards.

In no particular chronological order, there will follow a series of Soho stories.

Michael, in his early teens decided to keep and breed rabbits.  Now, there isn’t much room in Chinatown, so there was nothing for it but a rooftop farm.  Michael, always inventive, built a runway across the roofs in the Yard, using ladders to circumvent the different heights of the various roofs he had to pass before reaching his chosen site.  This was the flat roof of the then offices of Boosey & Hawkes, the largest sheet music publishers in the world. The staff there, incredibly, had no problem with what was happening. In those days produce for the myriad of Chinese restaurants in Gerrard Street came in wooden boxes which were discarded and left for the binmen.  These boxes made good firewood, but Michael had other uses for them.  He used them to build rabbit hutches and to make a safety barrier for his pets around the perimeter of the roof.

An elderly woman in an upper floor of a block of flats overlooking the area got so much pleasure  from watching the rabbits frolicking in the sunlight that she took to leaving vegetable scraps on our doorstep to supplement their diet.

One of the ladders reaching from our roof to the next one spanned a skylight which was so begrimed as to be invisible.  That is why, when one of Michael’s friends decided to jump instead of using the ladder which Michael had carefully placed to avoid such an eventuality, he went clean through it.  I was summoned, peered through the smashed window, and saw Simon in the clutches of a gentleman who had no intention of letting him go.  I rushed round into Gerrard Street, managed to work out in which building the boy was being held, searched through the warren of rooms until I came to the right one, and persuaded the man to release him. The lad was unharmed.

Years later, Becky sent me this photograph of her own daughter,

Florence, outside the entrance to this yard, which, now containing up-market

eating places has totally changed from even then. In the mid-seventies £1 could buy you a good set meal in Gerrard Street

From Moonrise To Sunset

While I scrapped more archived papers Jackie added them to continued burning of garden refuse this morning. As I had better luck uploading pictures today, I have used this one that I had given up on yesterday.

Richard and Alan fitted the doors to the entrance lobby and to the airing cupboard. The chest of drawers shown beside the airing cupboard is to go.

Early this afternoon Helen and Bill visited and enjoyed coffee and inspecting the work of Kitchen Makers.

Towards twilight we took a drive into the forest.

The moon rose to grace the pastel canopy over Paul’s Lane, Coombe Lane and the Burley Road from Norleywood. A murder of crows assembled on telegraph wires, and trees wore their autumn clothing.

We were back home in time for sunset.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, peas, pickled onions and chilli cornichons with which we both drank Val di Salis Chardonnay 2020.

Burning Summer’s Clippings

This is the diary post for 15th November. We had no internet connection last night, so I could not publish it then.

My uploading struggles continued today, but I did manage to transfer the last problematic image to yesterday’s post, and made more progress with shedding.

Richard from Kitchen Makers skimmed the ceiling of the former dressing room and fitted a new light into the airing cupboard in which he has built new shelves offering more space.

Jackie, meanwhile, made a start on burning the summer’s garden clippings. True to form, I had to abandon uploading a further one of these images.

After taking over bonfire duties later this afternoon, I published https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/15/a-knights-tale-65-the-peel-institute/ The illustrations to this were already the WordPress Media file.

This evening we dined on a second helping of Jackie’s wholesome winter stewp with fresh crusty bread, accompanied by the same beverages as yesterday.

A Knight’s Tale (65: The Peel Institute)

From August 1974, when I produced this photograph of the St Pancras skyline which has now changed considerably, Jessica, Michael, and I lived in a house leased to The Peel Institute, a boys’ club in Lloyd Baker Street in Islington.  It was our home on condition that I performed not very onerous caretaking duties in the clubhouse.  The Lloyd Baker Estate is a very trendy area in which to live.  For us, it was short-term, pending the refurbishment of the very elegant house.  We enjoyed a beautiful garden which I was happy to maintain.

Matthew and Becky enjoyed hanging out from the balcony.

Following a very mild summer, on Christmas Day 1974 I picked a bunch of fresh, vibrant roses.  I still have the colour slide of Jessica’s photograph to prove it.  

Remaining an important community facility, ‘The Peel was founded in 1898 by Sir George Masterman Gillett MP for Finsbury for 14 years. He explained that it was “to supply the young men… with a social centre for recreation, open every evening in the week that the “Peel institute” came into existence”

They met in a Friends’ Meeting house that was previously a woodyard that had manufactured a long wooden instrument called a “Peel” which was used to place bread in huge ovens. The meeting house was commonly known as “The Peel”.

In the first half of the twentieth century The Peel was “a place where the men of the neighbourhood can have a rational evening’s enjoyment without the temptation of the public house” Although influenced by their Quaker faith, there was “an entire absence of thee and thou”. 

In the period between the wars the Peel greatly expanded its work, developing a network of illustrious Vice-Presidents and supporters and greatly expanding the number and range of activities. 

In 1936 it was said that “in any one week no less than 1,000 families are connected with the Institute, using one or other of its buildings or the Playing Field”

In 1940 the Institute’s headquarters and other buildings around the old courtyard were demolished by enemy action.

The 1952 annual report states that “there is little sign of poverty, young people, both boys and girls, are sturdy in physique well dressed and confident. Most of them read though they seldom write… they earn wages which their fathers, let alone their grandfathers, never dreamed of. The immense housing programme of the local authorities, largely on cleared bomb sites, has totally changed the housing conditions of the people. Nearly every home now has a wireless set, some have television… in spite of the abolition of poverty and the spread of education, men and women of to-day reflect so little on the meaning of life… it is clear that the need for the work and influence of Peel is as great now, for different reasons, as it was half a century ago – or greater, since the new reasons are more vitally important than some of the old ones, as the spirit is more important than the body”

A ‘Peel Old Boys’ club’ was launched which undertook activities such as “gymnastic classes three times per week, 2 football teams, fortnightly whist drives, indoor games, holidays” and in 1958 they established an Old Age Pensioners’ Club

In 1977, the Day centre was opened, running from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday with lunches served and activities e.g. bingo and films, outings. The youth club operated 5 evenings per week. There were 2 clubs; junior and senior. Juniors undertook activities such as “candlemaking badge making, painting and discos” while seniors “more sports orientated” especially football.

The Peel was recognised by a visit from Princess Diana in 1986.

One report states that the neighbourhood has “housing is of a low standard, employment prospects offer few opportunities for personal growth and status. The Kings Cross ‘culture’ presents issues and attractions towards prostitution, drugs, crime and violence”

In 1996 The Peel Centre at Percy Circus opened with areas for day centre and youth club. It was said that “the new centre will provide safe playing space in the Clerkenwell and Kings Cross area for young people of all ages”. 

In accordance with the Peel’s plan to “reboot” the charity financially, the Peel Centre was disposed of 2016 in order to release substantial capital funds. The Peel moved its base of operations into the 3 Corners Centre in December 2016 and has adopted a ‘satellite’ model of delivery more appropriate to current and foreseeable needs.’ (https://www.peelinstitute.org.uk/our-history)

We learned later that the second husband of Jessica’s Aunt Elspeth had previously taken parties of boys from the club to climb Snowdon from his cottage in the foothills. My one outing there will follow later.

A Productive Day For The Head Gardener And The Maintenance Department

Today’s pattern for me was very similar to yesterday’s, in that I spent much time wrestling with uploading photographs to WordPress, and eventually was forced to give up on one; intermittently applied myself to scrapping or shredding fifteen years of paperwork; and posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/14/a-knights-tale-64-changes-in-residential-care/ with photographs which were already in my WP media file.

The Head Gardener and The Maintenance Department, on the other hand, had a very productive day.

Her wrestling was with the far more manageable wreckage of the wisteria arbour, which necessitated a heavy prune enabling her to free the fallen posts. She has recovered her favourite view down the garden from the stable door.

The following day I successfully fought to upload the last photograph in the series.

I had managed to clog up the shredder by overloading it and working it too long. Jackie unclogged it and insisted on sharing the task – probably to ensure that she would not need to repeat the exercise.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s stupendous, wholesome, winter stewp, thick enough to stand a spoon up in it, with fresh, crusty, yet soft, bread rolls. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie, which involved opening another bottle.