Focus On The Windscreen

Nick Hayter visited this morning to assess the post-refurbishment decorating work he is to undertake. We enjoyed his usual pleasant conversation.

The unconsolable skies shed continuous profuse tears throughout the afternoon, which we began with a trip to the Lymington Post Office collection office to claim a parcel undelivered because of a shortage of £2 in postage. The good news was that there was no queue. The bad news was that the office was closed. I took an alternative option which was to stick the extra postage on the back of their card and post it back to them.

We then drove into the forest to make

a record picture of the lake at Pilley which is avidly collecting more liquid sustenance. I chose not to walk round to the other side for that view since I was already feeling a drip.

While waiting for a train at the Lymington level crossing I had plenty of time to focus on the windscreen.

Perhaps it is the intensity; perhaps the consistently fast pace; perhaps the comparative shortness; perhaps the bloodthirstiness of the historical context of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ that renders it apparently the most widely read of the master’s novels, in which there is no room for his customary dry wit, and little for his comic turns.

Later this afternoon I finished reading the work which becomes impossible to put down; and scanned the last four of Charles Keeping’s perfectly matched illustrations to my Folio Society 1985 edition.

‘ ‘Hope has quite departed from my breast’ ‘

‘He spoke with a helpless look straying all around’

‘Miss Pross seized her round the waist and held her tight’

‘She kisses his lips; he kisses hers’

This evening we dined on double egg and chips with sausages and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Comté Tolosan Rouge.

Keeping Pulls No Punches

On a cold and drizzly day we did not mind having to stay in for Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating who came to service our boiler.

I posted

This afternoon I scanned the next four of Charles Keeping’s powerful illustrations to “A Tale of Two Cities” in which he pulls no punches.

‘Such awful workers and such awful work’

‘The executioner showed the people the head of the king’

‘ ‘Take off his head!’ cried the audience’

‘No sooner did he face her, than Miss Pross uttered a scream’

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork with crunchy crackling; apple sauce; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; leaks, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower. carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank Chevalier Se Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019.

Dozing Over Dickens

Staying up until after midnight last night rendered today soporific and inducing extreme somnolence.

I dozed over ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

After I resurfaced Jackie and I enjoyed reminiscing with Becky, which always offers similar stories from our different perspectives, and revelations from our daughter’s childhood.

Later, I scanned three more of Charles Keeping’s telling illustrations.

‘Mr Lorry and Miss Press almost looked like accomplices in a horrible crime’

‘In the ocean of faces…..’

‘The château was left to itself to flame and burn’

This evening we dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare. My main course was Tiger Prawn Dhansak; Jackie’s, Sag Chicken; Ian’s Chicken Tikka Masala, and Becky’s Chicken Curry. We shared poppadoms, onion bhajis; paneer tikka, pilau and special fried rices, and garlic naan. I drank Cobra; Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Ian, San Miguel; and Becky, Zesty followed by a complimentary, which is what we call Baileys – often given as a complimentary drink in an Indian restaurant.

Punch Drunk

After lunch I girded my loins and prepared to do battle with BT. After 45 minutes and an initial misdirection I was helped to access my account by a very helpful assistant named Jen. The problem concerned a different account and I really can’t be bothered to go into it here even if I could get my head around it. Believe it or not the “Bill” I hadn’t been able to access turned out to be a credit.

Having thus cheered myself up I posted

I then scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to “A Tale of Two Cities”

‘Sydney Carton drank the punch at a great rate’

‘He leaned and elbow on her table, and covered his eyes with his hand’

‘He sat munching and drinking near Madame Defarge’s counter’

‘She laid her face upon his breast’

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts, sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, mint sauce, and meaty gravy. Jackie, Becky, and Ian drank Vineyards white Zesty, while I drank more of the Merlot-Tannat, which involved opening another bottle.

‘What Has Gone Wrong?’

This afternoon I posted

Afterwards, having read enough more of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, I scanned another five of Charles Keeping’s extremely expressive illustrations to this Dickens novel.

‘Father and son, looking silently on at the morning traffic’

‘ ‘How say you? Are they very like each other?’ ‘

‘Both resorted to the drinking-table without stint’

‘ ‘What has gone wrong?’ said Monsieur, calmly looking out’ gives the artist an opportunity to employ his device of sandwiching a slice of text between the bread of two parts of a picture, thus indicating the space between them.

‘The Marquis took a gentle little pinch of snuff’

Mat, Tess, and Poppy having returned to Sussex late this morning, the rest of us grazed this evening. Jackie and I enjoyed tempura prawns and her tasty savoury rice with a slice of Tess’s excellent Christmas cake. I drank Côtes de Gascogne Merlot-Tannat 2019.

The Sun Must Be Over The Yardarm

Elizabeth paid us a visit just as we were settling down with lunch and an antiques programme. She declined to join us but was happy to make herself a coffee while we turned off the TV and enjoyed a chat and an exchange of presents to be placed under our respective Christmas trees.

Afterwards I made a start on reading

This frontispiece, illustrated by the inimitable Charles Keeping, depicts ‘Carton stood over him with his hand in his breast’

The next three drawings show ‘A horse and rider came slowly through the eddying mist’;

‘ ‘I kiss your hand, miss’ ‘;

and ‘Madame Defarge said nothing when her lord came in’

This afternoon, while preparing tomorrow’s festive dinner, the Culinary Queen lost all track of time, and, thinking the sun must be over the yardarm,

brought me a glass of Lirac at ten past three.

Soon afterwards, Becky and Ian arrived. Later we were joined by Mat, Tess, and Poppy. We all dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away.