‘Carer Fills The Dosset Box’

After yesterday’s trip I have to accept I can no longer just wait for my right knee to heal itself. Today, apart from a drive to the GP’s, I have furniture walked, with not a glimmer of polish. Given that Jackie is awaiting surgery on her left knee, she has speculated that we might do quite well in a three-legged race.

Once again, I am grateful that we live where we do. A phone call to the GP surgery in the morning resulted in an emergency appointment with the excellent Dr Simon Moody-Jones; medication prescribed, and collected; a recommendation that I dig out a stick I had used before the previous surgery; and back home with a completed application form for a perhaps optimistically termed walk-in x-ray in the afternoon; all in time for Bargain Hunt at 12.30.

A Dosset box is designed to contain medication marked to help people remember whether they have taken their pills or not. Little compartments are laid out according to days of the week and intervals in the days. The idea is that carers can fill them for patients otherwise unable to carry out the procedure. Whilst in hospital after my hip replacement five and a half years ago, I thought it amusing to tell a nurse that I had such a box, because we thought it a good idea for anyone. Jackie was fascinated to read in the notes on the clipboard at the foot of the bed, that ‘carer fills Dosset box’.

Obviously taking this allocated role to heart, she inserted Co-codamol for the pain, Naproxen for the swelling, and Omeprazole to counteract potential stomach damage from the Naproxen, to see me through the week ahead.Jackie's V sign whilst filling Dossett box

I am not sure quite what I said to earn the silent inverted gesture that went with it.

This afternoon we were in and out of Lymington Hospital’s X-ray unit in about twenty minutes, most of which was occupied by me walking from the car.

On our return I was delighted to receive an alert informing me that, under a blog post entitled ‘Dissection of a Wedding Party’, my friend Alex Schneideman on www.alexschneideman.net has produced enlarged images of individual portraits of the members of the group in my ‘Revealing The Ancestors’ post. Alex’s site is well worth a look.

We had never thought of Kenwood as a producer of dishwashers when we bought one on special offer from Curry’s. We had an initial problem getting it going but that was fixed under guarantee. What has always been metaphorically, and today literally, a pain has been that the tray runners don’t operate smoothly and are held in place by plastic wheels which frequently fall off into the rear nether regions of the machine, and are very difficult to manoeuvre back into their correct positions. A fiddly enough process at the best of times, today, feeling as if one of the knives had also fallen from its container and lodged itself in my knee, I had to give up and hand the job of recovery to Jackie.

She was then able to load up the dishwasher, normally my job, with the pots, crockery, and cutlery from our delicious evening meal of her lamb jalfrezi, egg fried rice, and vegetable samosas. Jackie drank T’Sing Tao and I drank Kingfisher.


This morning I walked a route I had first discovered on 5th of April. TrucksI followed a large truck along  the footpath to the right of Downton Lane. This soon joined two others between the maize fields, the nearest of which was now stubble. I wandered along to the last vehicle and engaged in an entertaining and informative discussion with farmer Roger Cobb. Derrick's jogging bottomsHis seemed a remarkably apt name for a maize grower.
I knew we would get on well when he at first donned a pair of dark glasses because, he said, my pink jogging bottoms were dazzling him. When I told him I had bought them in a sale during my running days, he said he wasn’t surprised. Roger, who declined to be photographed, explained that this was forage maize which was harvested earlier than that for human Harvesting maize 1Harvesting maize 2consumption. It was shredded, compacted, and fed to cattle. Maize debrisA few scattered cobs lay beside the stubble. The jolly farmer also confirmed that the dead crow was, indeed, a deterrent. Apparently these birds are very partial to maize.
PheasantOn the New Milton bus route I met and conversed with a woman who was training to walk, with her granddaughter, a half marathon in London in aid of cancer research. She said she would never try this dicey road again. I was able to guide her the rest of the way, telling her there would be a footpath beyond the bottom of Downton Lane.
There was much evidence of mole activity, and the bluebells in the wood have now made way for bracken, amidst which pheasants scuttled, rustling fallen leaves.
Later, I began the task of taking out the box hedges from the future rose garden. I found them to be bordered by yet more heavy concrete slabs which I dug out and added to the pile by the shed. A liberal supply of hard core infiltrated the soil, and the roots proved to be very stubborn. I settled for removing the centre stretch, and a shallow rooted apple tree that hadn’t really made it through the rubble, yet managed to produce four fruit. Whilst I was engaged in this, Jackie shopped in Lidl, where she bought a dozen more cyclamen, the cost of which worked out at 74p. each.
A recently deceased rat lay on its back beside the compost heap, to which, gingerly grasping the tip of its tail, I added it. Unscarred, the large rodent must have seen off Bev and John’s marauding cat which is nevertheless an excellent mouser. If so, perhaps the excitement was too much for it.
Soon after this year’s Notting Hill Carnival throughout the three days of August Bank Holiday weekend, my friend Alex Schneideman posted in his journal, under the title ‘Has Carnival Had Its Day?’, photographs including a row of young men using boarded up shop fronts as a urinal, and another of a group of anxious looking police personnel. He invited discussion. This was the comment I posted this afternoon:
‘When I lived in Sutherland Place until just four years ago it was our gardens that were used as public conveniences, but Westminster council did a good clear up job. I thought the carnival had had its day then, largely because there were far too many people crowded into the small locality. If I left my flat and went through barriers to the shops in Westbourne Grove, I had to prove where I lived to get back again. The police then had much happier expressions than those anxious ones you photographed, Alex.  Most of the residents of our street disappeared for the whole holiday weekend. What was to admire was the efforts that went into the marvellous floats, although the volume of the music was literally painful to the ears’. Reports on this year’s event were very different to that I experienced in 2008 when, by the skin of my teeth, I produced one of my favourite sets of images.
RocksSeaweed on rocksSpray on rocksBefore dinner this evening, Jackie drove us down to Milford on Sea where we wandered among the green-haired rocks smoothed by the waves of The Solent down the ages. Today these sometimes violent bodies of water lapped gently at the glinting sun-drying boulders strewn about the beach.
Even by her standards, Jackie excelled herself with tonight’s sausage casserole. This delicious meal was made from three different varieties of Ferndene bangers, and a gammon steak from Tesco. It was served with potato and swede mash, mange touts, carrots and cabbage; and followed by a tangy lemon and lime meringue pie. Jackie drank lambrusco, whilst my choice was Hatherwood Golden Goose beer.

‘They Don’t Cook The Veg’

Last night I began reading ‘Her Brilliant Career – Ten Extraordinay Women of the Fifties’ by Rachel Cooke.

Early this morning I received an e-mail from Alex Schneideman attaching rebalanced copies of my two historic photos from yesterday. They were so pleasing that I substituted them for my own versions in that day’s post.  The experience made me determined to crack a problem with my Epson V750 PRO scanner, which should have restored the colour balance, a facility which had mysteriously disappeared.  After much trial and error I discovered that the auto exposure function, without which certain others would not come into play, had been disengaged.  I can now sort out the colour again, but haven’t yet managed to resuscitate the dust removal feature.  I have also found ‘levels’ to which Alex alerted me, in the iPhoto edit function.

Not that I particularly needed it, light rain refreshed me on my walk down to Football Green, up through the grounds of Minstead Lodge, and back home via Seamans Lane and Running Hill.

Horse alertIn and around the village and forest,  no doubt as a response to the increase in animal deaths on the road, there have appeared a number of small laminated posters warning drivers not to kill ponies and horses carrying people.  These, affixed to gateposts and wayside trees, are all no larger than A4 and cannot be read from moving vehicles.  I don’t know how practical it would be, but it seems to me that we need something about the size, and in the simple, spare, language, of the yellow Animal Deaths warnings on such as Roger Penny Way.

A field beyond the village shop contains the only oak currently completely devoid of foliage.  Dead oak treeThis one has been naked as long as we have lived here.  Probably because it is dead. Further along, a shower of orange leaves from a live specimen descended like a shimmering macrame screen behind the deep green back of a double decker bus. The stout branch immediately above the cascade imitated the action of a seesaw.  It had been clouted by the vehicle.  Maybe the driver had lost his way.


A gaggle of geese could be discerned through a gap in a beach hedge bordering the track up to Minstead Lodge.

After lunch I changed the colour balance of those ‘posterity’ pictures I have already posted.  We then produced a Christmas card which it would not be sensible to reproduce here, because I don’t expect the prospective recipients would really appreciate a preview.

This evening Jackie produced a succulent sausage casserole, with mashed potato and swede, and crisp, colourful vegetables of which my Uncle Ben would definitely disapprove.  In 1983, when I first ran the Bolton Marathon, Matthew and I went up to stay with my uncle and Auntie Ellen.  Ben bemoaned the catering firm that had just taken over his works canteen.  He complained that, because they had been trained in nutrition the staff didn’t cook the veg.  Now aged 92, my uncle is of the generation that believed vegetables were not palatable unless they had had the life, the colour, and the nutrients, boiled out of them and into the water which would then be thrown away..

Our cauliflower was white; our brussels green; and our carrots orange; not grey, brown, and yellow.  With them Jackie drank a Palastri spritzer and I some Roc des Chevaliers bordeaux superieur 2011.


The front cover of Iain Pears’ novel ‘An Instance Of The Fingerpost’ bears a quotation from P.D.James: ‘A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery’.  And she should know.  I finished reading this book of Margery’s this morning.  Four different narrators take it in turns to give their somewhat contradictory versions of a 17th Century tale that weaves into its rich tapestry genuine historical characters, both those with whose names we are familiar, and others more obscure.  The element of mystery is so successful that I was unsure, until the last few of almost 700 pages, which of the strands we were actually meant to be unravelling.  A clever book which I admired, I think an adherent of Umberto Eco may find it a little more entertaining than I did.

I then printed a copy of yesterday’s picture of Donna-Marie as a present for her that we delivered to the salon on our way to Ringwood, being the first of today’s Christmas shopping venues. Highcliffe Castle (Jackie) From Ringwood we went on to Castlepoint, then to Highcliffe Castle’s gift shop.  Incredibly we have nearly completed the task.

With the leaves on the trees still glowing warm in the gloom of a thoroughly cloud-covered day, we have observed that autumn seems to have come a little late this year.  The next two photographs in my ‘posterity’ collection confirm that impression.  cannizaro-park-10-63-1They were taken in October fifty years ago joseph-10-63when Cannizaro Park was resplendent in various shades of golden brown, and my brother Joseph sat gleefully tossing leaves.  I have mentioned before how I, with first Vivien, then Jackie, took Joe around with us everywhere.  It would have been Vivien accompanying me when I took the attached out of focus masterpiece.

Still public, this park on the edge of Wimbledon Common, is the remnants of the grounds of an 18th century country house, owned in the 1960s by Wimbledon Borough Council which became part of the London Borough of Merton.  The house was sold in the 1980s, no doubt an example of Sir Harold MacMillan’s famous metaphor for privatisation, ‘selling off the family silver’.  It is now an internationally patronised hotel in which Matthew once worked when Oliver Reed was in residence.  When I had been not much older than my young sibling my parents had taken me and my brother and sisters to play in the gardens.

This evening we dined on haddock and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions and cornichons accompanied by Palastri pinot grigio 2012.  Vanilla ice cream with strawberry jam and evaporated milk was to follow.

P.S. Alex Schneideman rebalanced my two historic photographs and e-mailed the results which I have substituted for my originals.  Thank you Alex.


DerrickIn my post dedicated to him, I say that Alex Schneideman made me a present of one of his portraits of me.  This is number 21 in the ‘through the ages series’, taken on 17th March 2009.  It seems appropriate to feature it at this time, because behind me in the flat in Sutherland place, are some of the books that now fill boxes in the garage.  Becky has recently quoted Daisy Ashford’s ‘The Young Visiters’ on her Facebook page.  Among the comments this has prompted is Jackie’s regret that she no longer has her copy. Child on Thelwell pony I have assured her that she need have no fear because my copy will be in the box marked Novels A – ?.  Since some of the Bs and Cs can be seen on the shelves to my left, the young writer’s famous tale is probably sharing their temporary resting place.  It is to be hoped that Jackie does not want to read the book before the boxes are unloaded at their final destination.

This morning I walked to the churchyard via The Splash and footpath, and back through the village.  Clopping up the road between the ford and Furzey Gardens was a Thelwell pony, led by a woman in wellies, and carrying a proud little girl.  They were grateful to be photographed.

Mellersh memorial frontMellersh memorial (back)On 16th November, when I was too unwell to attend, there was a ceremony of dedication to the Memorial to Lost Children sculpted by Jeanie Mellersh, whose had been one of the first welcoming faces I met soon after our arrival in Minstead.  It seemed appropriate, on a Sunday of my first real walk since getting over my virus, to pay my respects to the memory of Jeanie and Nick’s grandchildren Yaany & Mimi Mellersh, local children who lost their lives tragically in Turkey two years ago.  I did so.  The white stone memorial stands apart from the graves.  One can only extend sympathy to those left behind.

This afternoon we drove to Hobby Craft in Hedge End to buy the materials for a Christmas present picture frame.  Afterwards we went on to Margery and Paul’s home in Bitterne for the grand finale of The First Gallery’s three week winter exhibition.  Incidentally they sold 6/10 of mine and Jackie’s cards.

The exhibition closed at 4.00 p.m. and the sing song by private invitation began at 4.30.  As smooth as clockwork the conjoint sitting rooms were transformed from a picture gallery to a splendid parlour room for group singing.  Masterminded by Paul with some assistance from the early arrivals, items were whisked upstairs or into the hall to make way for a variety of chairs.  Everything except the pianist was in place by the appointed time.  Margery at the pianoMary, our musician, had been delayed.  This was no problem for the dynamic duo as Margery gamely took over the keyboard and got us under way.

Song sheet collation

Part of the preparation had been the printing off and stapling of song sheets.  This involved various singers supervising the PC, then, by distributing the various sheets on various knees and collecting them up in the correct order, collating them before applying a stapler.

There were two sets of songs; one of carols, and the other of what Paul termed ‘pagan songs’ like Clementine or ‘Enery The Eighth.  Examples of each were alternated in our programme, and great fun was had by all.

As Margery was getting into the swing of things at the piano Paul came staggering backwards into the room.  Looking rather like the anchorman in a tug of war he managed to dig his heels into the carpet, and, with head bobbing and hair flying, heave on a taught red rope that disappeared the other side of the door.  As did Paul, rather like a puppet on a string.  Summoning all his strength he got himself and what turned out to be a dog lead back into the room.  Momentarily.  On the other end of the leash was a black labrador seemingly larger than the pony I had seen this morning.  It had its forepaws on the shoulders of a woman whose gradual entry into the room meant Paul could relax somewhat, Gemonly to be jerked across to the piano where Mary, the pianist, helped him secure her dog Gem to the piano stool.  Naturally this created a pause in the proceedings.

Mary at the piano

John, Yutta, and GemMary then took over the ivories.Sing song  All continued comparatively smoothly until Gem took a shine to John.  I felt for him as he tried to manage the farmyard sounds of ‘Old MacDonald’ whilst fending off a besotted dog with strokes of self defence. Nevertheless, the more or less harmonious production continued until it was time for a break.

At the interval we were served with tea and Margery’s exquisite mini mince pies, still warm and delicious.

When the singing was ended, the majority of us stayed and had a very enjoyable half hour or so of stimulating and entertaining conversation.

Elizabeth, Jackie and I then repaired to Eastern Nights at Thornhill for the usual top quality Bangladeshi meal with Cobra, Bangla, and fizzy water to accompany it.

This Train Is Not Stopping At…….


In my post of 18th June I wrote of Alex Schneideman’s gift of a photographic portrait of me.  This was reproduced as number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series.  Behind me are some of the thousands of books I am in the process of moving from 29 Sutherland Place where I was living at the time.  The task of packing these up was begun today.

To enable this, Jackie drove me to and from Southampton Parkway station for the Waterloo train.  On the outward journey I began reading ‘Storm of Steel’ by Ernst Junger.

From Waterloo I took the Bakerloo Line tube to Edgware Road which was the nearest station to Paddington Green where the local Safestore outlet was situated.  This was where I hoped to buy the storage boxes and, if possible, have them delivered.  As we left Marylebone, the penultimate stop, the fact that the train was not stopping at Edgware Road was announced.  I had to go on to Paddington and walk from there.  I bought the boxes and the staff member phoned a man with a van who could deliver the boxes by 2 p.m.  The driver was independent of Safestore so I had a separate arrangement with him.

So far, so good.  I now had plenty of time to walk from Paddington Green to Sutherland Place and await delivery. Safestore Safestore itself occupies part of what had been a children’s hospital when I had worked in the area in the decades before the current millennium.  Other buildings have been demolished.

Sarah Siddons

Something like a dozen years ago the statue of Sarah Siddons that stands on the green itself underwent a facelift involving a nasal prosthesis.  The cosmetic surgery the great thespian received has dropped off.

Trees on roundabout

A little further on the A40 rises above Harrow Road.  Between the two can be seen a roundabout enhanced by mature trees that I saw planted as saplings.

Little Venice basin

An underpass leads to the canal and Little Venice.  I ran many miles alongside this stretch of water.Canal & River Trust  The Canal & River Trust narrowboat is all that is left of the charity that was Beauchamp Lodge settlement that has featured in various posts and that I chaired for so many years.Beauchamp Lodge

Some years after the building was sold to a Counselling agency I returned to rent space there for my own practice.

On the cobblestones around the basin, in the shadow of Beauchamp Lodge, a painter was reproducing the scene which had entranced me on a daily basis. Painting the blue bridgeMany a time have I passed under or over the blue bridge.

Lord Hills Bridge

Lord Hills Bridge, outside Royal Oak tube station, still presents a colourful series of geometric shapes to the viewer.

The Alinea Bindery in Porchester Road once repaired some of my original volumes of the Dictionary of National Biography that Jessica had found in a second-hand bookshop and given me for my birthday.

Porchester Road

St. Stephen's ChurchSt. Stephen’s Church on Talbot Road was one venue for AGMs of the  Westbourne Neighbourhood Association on whose committee I served whilst living in Sutherland Place.

Andrew, the man with the van, arrived an hour late.  As he bounded empty-handed up the steps, asking ‘what have we got?’, I had that sinking feeling.  Through gritted teeth I said: ‘You are supposed to be bringing the boxes’.  He fled, announcing that he would go and get them, and came back twenty minutes later.

The packing was somewhat delayed.  However, after walking to Notting Hill Gate and returning to Waterloo by underground, I did manage to board a train slightly earlier than expected.  I should have smelt a rat really.  The doors of the train, which was meant to have already left, were closed to the multitude on the platform.  This was because it had, for some reason, proved impossible to link the two halves of this ten coach train that normally divides at Southampton Central, the station after Southampton Parkway.  The front half would therefore set off first, the second following five minutes later.  The driver, whom I asked, didn’t know where the two halves were going, but this shouldn’t have mattered because my station was before the dividing one.

Once the doors opened I happily boarded the rear half.  As we set off at a crawl, the guard announced that there would be an additional stop at Basingstoke, but no normal one at Parkway.  Those needing Southampton Parkway were advised to alight at Winchester and wait for another train.  He gave its time.  We arrived after that time, but it didn’t matter because that train was twenty minutes late.  I reflected that this had rounded off the day nicely.

A delicious, cooling salad provided our dinner on such a sweltering day.  Jackie drank Budweiser and I drank sparkling water.

Alex Schneideman

On another oppressively humid overcast day Jackie drove me to Southampton whence I had an uneventful journey to Waterloo. Golden Jubilee Bridge From there, along, it seemed, with the rest of the world, I walked across Golden Jubilee Bridge which runs parallel with an older railway one;Golden Jubilee Bridge and older railway one past Charing Cross; through Trafalgar Square; along Pall Mall; up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus; along Oxford Street to Marble Arch; through to Bayswater Road, where the throng thinned a little; right into Leinster Terrace; then via Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester and Queensborough Terraces, weaved my way to the top end of Queensway; along Westbourne Grove, and finally into Sutherland Place.

A little early for my appointment to make the inventory of my belongings soon to be removed from number 29, I sat for a while in Shrewsbury Gardens at the end of the road, watching dogs crapping on the grass, and listening to gleeful children in the Catholic primary school playground alongside.

An American gentleman, seeking former residences of Marconi, on whom he was doing some research, sought St. Stephen’s Square.  Neither I nor a 67 year old woman who had lived in the area all her life, knew of this.  We came to the conclusion that it may have been bombed during the war, built over, and renamed.

Greenery figuresA couple more greenery figures (see post of 5th June) are chatting over their garden fence in front of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Trafalgar Square fountainNational Gallery stepsThe coping surrounding the fountains in Trafalgar Square and the steps of the National Gallery provided perches from the young of the globe. Trafalgar Square A boy on a rocking horse attempted to leap over one of the lions which Matthew had scaled with such trepidation in September 1976.  Matthew climbing lion, Tafalgar Square, 9.76(If you haven’t already twigged this, clicking on the images enlarges them.  This is sometimes necessary to see the detail of the pictures and possibly the points of my jokes.)

Turkey plea

A chalked plea for the people of Turkey was inscribed on some paving stones.

In Haymarket a group of portly businessmen tottered out of a wine bar promising each other e-mails in the morning.  It is to be hoped that at least one of them remembered.

As I walked down Regent Street I thought of Simon (see post of 10th June) who had sought a memento of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and speculated that he would have liked the pennants strung across the road.  I ignored the ‘crossing not in use sign’.Regent Street

Returning my smile, a young woman in Oxford Street distributing leaflets advertising a waxing service refrained from offering me one.

Halepi restaurant

The Halepi and Zorbas (no apostrophe) restaurants featured in ‘Feng Shui’,  posted on 9th January, are situated in Leinster Terrace.

Zorbas restaurant Contrary to expectations, Zorbas seems still to be in business.

After the planning of the final move from Sutherland Place, I walked down to Notting Hill Gate, took the Central Line to Bond Street, and changed to the Jubilee Line which carried me back to Waterloo.  I read more of John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ on the train, and Jackie drove me back home and fed me on chili con carne (recipe) with which I finished the Maipo merlot and she her Hoegaarden.

In 2009, whilst living in Sutherland Place and preparing the photographs for ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (see 7th April post), I realised I needed some training in how to get the best results from Photoshop.  The first tutor was one of those awful teachers who has to do it all for you, too speedily to follow, let alone make coherent notes.  He also messed up my scanner settings, making it impossible to scan anything at all without channeling it through Photoshop.  I could no longer save a picture in jpg format, and he didn’t know how to put it right.  I didn’t ask him back.

Wandering up Portobello Road one day I came across the stunning window display of a professional photographer which carried a card advertising Photoshop tuition.  If the man could produce the images on show he probably had something to teach me.  I rang the number on the card, and the photographer soon visited me at home.  He was a completely different kettle of fish.  A sensitive and artistic young man, he had all the patience needed to guide me through the processes and enable me to take notes.  He never tried to pack too much into a session.  This was Alex Schneideman who has since become a good friend and incidentally told me how to start a blog on WordPress.

After the second of our three two hour tutorials Alex asked me if he could photograph me.  This he did in the sitting room of 29 Sutherland Place, and placed a set on his website.  He also made me a present of number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series. Derrick 2010 Another was number 20, which I reproduce here, and which demonstrates the photographer’s skill in relaxing his subjects. The photograph on the windowsill is of Michael and Heidi on their wedding day. I don’t think my portraits still adorn the website, but for anyone interested in imaginative, intuitive, photography www.alexschneideman.net  is well worth a visit.  Or, better still, pop along to Portobello Road and meet the man himself and also view the beautiful second-hand illustrated books in which his equally engaging wife deals.