A Rorschach Test


Our trip to the forest was somewhat delayed this afternoon;

our passage from our front drive was blocked by the rear section of a container lorry.

Close inspection revealed that this vehicle’s path was blocked by what appeared to be an injured cyclist being supported on the road.

In each direction along Christchurch Road traffic was being turned away by police. I ensured my photographs were anonymous, and thought it would seem unseemly to ask what had happened. Given that the invalid was talking and it was an hour and a half before an ambulance arrived, I can only assume that this was not the direst of emergencies.

Jackie and I were eventually able to depart as  police officer, who informed us that the man  now being helped into the ambulance had “taken a tumble off his bike”, raised the barrier for Jackie to drive on in the direction of Lymington. On the outskirts of that town another screaming ambulance, blue lights flashing, heralded one more lengthy tailback necessitating us and many others turning back the way we had come. We took the road down to the harbour.  Eventually we reached Undershore and escaped to comparatively quiet Pilley.

Near Norley Wood the usual variety of miniature ponies grazed in the light of the late afternoon sun.

Against the backdrop of Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds, a solitary cygnet was surrounded by energetic mallards competing for food in the lake’s shallows. The deeper water was frequented by gliding gulls and sedately sailing swans.

Later we enjoyed a blazing sunset over Hatchet Pond. One gentleman photographing an expectant swan and her cygnet had first lured them with enticing comestibles. As he departed, his models floated off to present their own Rorschach tests.

On our return home we joined Elizabeth in the Royal Oak where we dined. After a pint of Razor Back, with the meal I drank a glass of Merlot. The ladies drank Amstell. My meal was a mixed grill; Elizabeth chose venison sausages, mashed potatoes and perfect vegetables; Jackie savoured gammon steak, chips and salad. The food was as good as ever under the current management.

The Periodic Table

I began the day as a traffic director. There had very recently been an accident along the A337 further along the road to Lymington. I wandered out to see what was causing the tailback past our house, and the number of vehicles turning round and going back the way they had come. Very soon drivers, one after the other, were asking me questions such as ‘How can I get out of this?’. Especially those booked onto the ferry desperately needing an alternative route. I surprised myself by realising that I knew one. One woman carried a tray of home-made jam tarts on her passenger seat. They looked rather inviting.

Soon a recovery vehicle appeared with one damaged car on board, and all reverted to normal. We have always wondered why there are not more accidents on this winding road on which many people drive far too fast.

Afterwards I dug out a wide trench, and lined it with a weed suppressant membrane and sand, for the brick platform for the bench purchased yesterday. Rain set in at lunchtime so I had to stop. Later, during a brief lull, I placed the bricks. Further rain delayed trimming the edges of the membrane.Paving for benchElizabeth's rose

Elizabeth’s unidentified rose is now in bloom. It is coral pink, and has a good scent.

XWDCryptic crossword setters are a devious breed. One of the devices used for clueing is the use of abbreviations. During my Mordred decades, Chambers XWD, a Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations, is one of the books I co-wrote with Michael Kindred.  I won’t bore readers with an explanation of how and why we adopted a two way approach, but during the the process we had recourse to a list of chemical elements, where we could check that the abbreviation for potassium is K, not P as one might think.

The Periodic Table is a list of chemical elements arranged in order of their atomic number. Major dictionaries present a supplement of these in alphabetical order according to their abbreviations Silver, being abbreviated as Ag, is therefore second on a dictionary list, even though its atomic number is 47. That exhausts my knowledge of the scientist’s Periodic Table which I wouldn’t have the first idea how to apply.

Silver is one of the chapter headings to Primo Levi’s autobiographical work, The Periodic Table which I finished reading today. The chapters are not numbered. Each one bears the title of a chemical element. In the last, Carbon, the author states that his book is neither a chemical treatise nor an autobiography, but ‘in some fashion a history’. Most are interesting autobiographical stories featuring a particular element and following a chronological sequence. A couple, in italics in my Folio Society edition, concern other individuals from long ago.

The book is well written and holds the interest of this reader who has no interest in chemistry. I was able to understand Levi’s explanations until that final chapter where he rather lost me. I was struck by the humanity the writer showed in the Vanadium chapter towards a German scientist who he had met in Auschwitz.

The Periodic Table illustration

My copy is translated by Raymond Rosenthal, introduced by Ian Thompson, and imaginatively illustrated by Mark Smith.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole and new potatoes, followed by fruit salad, strawberries, and Swiss roll. The Cook drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Marques de Carano gran reserva 2008.

Early Morning Sun

On her way to an early morning shopping trip Jackie dropped me at Silver Street near Ashley, and i walked back via Everton Road and Hordle Lane. It was a relief to turn right Early morning suninto the lane after walking directly into the glaring sun. The explosion of red, yellow, and green baubles picked up by the camera lens beset my own irises, gradually changing to purple and blue, blinding me to much else, especially oncoming prams and buggies.
This experience took me back to Harrow Road, N.W.10, in the early 1970s when my Social Services Area Office was housed at the Ladbroke Lane  end of that thoroughfare. This busy road runs East to West from Central London. On a morning such as this I witnessed the aftermath of an accident in which a driver, similarly dazzled, had, coming from the West, crashed into the back of a stationary bus. I reflected that, perhaps, like me today, he had not been wearing sunglasses.
BearOpposite the children’s nursery in Hordle Lane, a forlorn little bear sat on a wall. Perhaps an equally sad infant will return to retrieve it and her happiness.
Beyond the school and the church the lane is bounded by fields, and the pavement Shadows on fieldShadow of gatedisappears. Long shadows of trees and me were cast across the grass, and that of their Oak tree landscapegate crisscrossed the drive to Apple Court Nurseries. Oak trees were silhouetted against the landscape.
Horses that had worn protective masks against swarms of irritating flies in the height of the Horsessummer, now clad in colourful sleeveless overcoats, slaked their thirsts in pools of water lying on the surface of their paddock.
ViolasBack home, the winter flowering plants, such as these violas, soaked up the sunshine.
Such was the buoyant mood in which I returned from my walk, that even BT couldn’t shatter it. But they tried. Oh boy!  Did they try!
Anyone who has been following the fiasco that began at the end of October may have been surprised that I had stopped writing about it. That is because for a few days now we have enjoyed an uninterrupted Broadband service. At 10.51 a.m. I received an e-mail telling me that my new service would begin on 15th December. Further down, in a section headed ‘small print’, subsection ‘cancellation’, was a statement that the new service had already started. What the service was, other than simply ‘broadband’ was not indicated. Since the five working days after which we should have reverted to our old copper system is well passed, and the broadband is working satisfactorily I thought that was the end of it. I had been promised an e-mail telling me when it had been activated, but didn’t receive one.
I then had the first of two conversations with an adviser who was as confused as I was. She suggested I waited until 15th December to see what happened. Whilst I was speaking to her, at 10.55, another e-mail came in telling me that the new service was ready. This prompted a further call from me. After a lengthy time listening to music whilst the sensible adviser discussed the matter with the orders department, a comprehensible answer was forthcoming. We had reverted to the old system. The 15th December service was faster broadband, but not Infinity. The Hub 5 should still work. I had, of course been told that it wouldn’t function with the old service and I would have to change back to the old Hub 3. But it did, so I hadn’t.
While I was at it, I said I wanted to revert to paper billing. This was arranged, and my adviser asked if there was anything else she could do for me. Great hilarity was occasioned by my reply: ‘Yes. Sort your company out’.
at 11.45 I received this e-mail:

Thanks for contacting us.

We found an answer on our Help website that you’ll be interested in:

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BT Customer Service’
If this is all doing your head in, just imagine what six weeks of it has done to mine.
This evening all was again right with the world when we dined on flavoursome pork chops roasted with mustard, brown sugar, almonds, and mushrooms; crisp carrots, cabbage, runner beans; and swede and potato mash. Dessert was spicy bread and butter pudding. I had custard on mine. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I enjoyed Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2014.