In Our Daughter’s Handbag

Barton on SeaJust before lunch Ian drove Becky, Scooby, and me to Barton on Sea. As we walked along the cliff top, we watched storm clouds approaching from the North. Deciding to ignore them we walked down the slope towards the beach, got drenched, and retreated to the Beachcomber Cafe. The whole population of the seaside town seemed to have had the same idea. No seats were available. The meals looked very good, so as soon as the rain stopped we drove back home for a pizza we knew Jackie had defrosted.Cliff edge warning 1Cliff edge warning  2

It seems to me that the cliff here has become more unstable in the last year, and that there are more warning signs. To the right of the first picture, a long cleft is evident. I wondered how long it would be before the land fell away as it had a little further along.

This afternoon Barrie and Vicki came for a visit. Green Man bird feederVicki produced a very attractive and tasteful bird feeder in the form of The Green Man that she had made for us. Jackie and I enjoyed their usual entertaining conversation, which was interrupted by the repeated  sound of Becky’s mobile phone. HandbagIt soon became apparent that this was in our daughter’s handbag. She was outside, having gone to meet Ian who was walking Scooby. Soon afterwards Ian returned, having lost their dog in the maze of the maize field. Realising what the phone calls might have been, Becky dialled the number in her phone. Sure enough, Scooby had been found. The telephone number shown on his collar tag photographed on 11th was that of the old Mitcham landline. Fortunately, Becky’s mobile number was on the reverse side. She called the number that had been left on her phone by the woman who had found Scooby. He was at the bottom of Downton Lane. She went to collect her dog and all was well.

Barrie has photographed our golden conifer because he has a friend who he expects will be able to identify it. I hope soon to be able to enlighten those of my readers who have been waiting with bated breath for the information.Golden conifer branch

A branch from this tree is one of those Jackie and Flo cut for our granddaughter to turn into wands for sale at A Touch Of Magick  in Emsworth, which is the outlet that is stocking Flo’s jewellery.Copper beech branchWands The other twig is from the copper beech. Some of the wands are resting on our Alvin Betteridge dish.

You have to be either a sadist or a masochist to enjoy the highlights of the very short third day of the Oval Test Match between India and England, in which the visiting side simply rolled over, but Ian and I tortured ourselves with watching the highlights this evening. After this, we did the male thing and went to the Royal Oak pub for a drink whilst the ladies prepared a delicious roast lamb meal. We seem to have stayed out rather longer than expected because, in mid-conversation, Ian, looking out of the window, seemed rather discombobulated. I leant forward so I could see what he was seeing. There was Becky, in her slippers, hands on hips, looking for all the world, except for the lack of hair curlers, like Florrie, the wife of that famous working class hero, Andy Capp, silently indicating that we should get home immediately.

We did, of course, drink up and return to Old Post House where we enjoyed a wonderful meal followed by next door’s apple crumble and Jackie’s custard containing eggs and nutmeg. My readers know no-one lives next door. But there is a very enticing apple tree in the front garden. If we hadn’t raided it, the fruit would have gone to waste. Ian drank Pedro Jimenez Cimarosa 2013; Jackie and Becky Lambrusco; Flo Tropicana mixed tropical fruit juice; and I finished the bordeaux.


On another crisp, clear, morning I took my usual route to Colliers Wood on the way to Carol’s.

The pools on the footpaths that had not yet been penetrated by the sun’s rays were frozen over, and grasses and benches were coated with frost which sparkled when the light filtering through the trees caught their drops.

Two women with their children snugly cocooned approached me, having just passed another elderly gent.  One was explaining to her little boy that he shouldn’t comment on people’s ages because some didn’t like to be reminded they were getting old.  ‘Some people don’t mind it’, I called out to them.  This earned me a chorus of ‘excellent’ and a couple of thumbs up.

My previous acquaintance with the magnificent comb-over carried his Sainsbury’s bags.

Time Out was being distributed at the Underground stations and outside Victoria overground.  This, which until very recently  cost two or three pounds, is now free.  It carries a listing of all local and national events and entertainment on offer during the coming week, together with reviews and other articles.  Other free publications include the previously mentioned Metro (11th October) and the Evening Standard, the last of London’s nightly newspapers we once paid for.  Most of these freebies, if not left on the tube, end up on the deck, often juxtaposed with dog-ends discarded by smokers no longer allowed to indulge their addiction inside public places.  In this morning’s Northern Line, those of my fellow-passengers not reading Metro were plugged into mobile devices whilst I scribbled my notes.

The street newsvendors of my boyhood stood with stacks of the Star, the News, and the Standard.  Would-be purchasers eagerly queued to grab one or all of these journals from outstretched hands as they deposited their predecimalisation pennies and ambled away, heads disappearing behind open pages, devouring information about what had happened in the capital whilst they had been beavering away at their employment.  Street scenes in films set in the war years would lack authenticity without shots of kiosks bearing banner headlines about the latest triumphs and disasters.  As fast as sellers handed over a copy they snatched another from their pile.  This was before the era of breaking news on television, which most people did not possess; or the unimagined mobile devices calling up information from around the world at the touch of a button.  Now the distributors often have to exercise all their arts of persuasion to relieve themselves of their heaps of paper.

‘Starnoozenstanna’  was the familiar cry of usually elderly men or young boys wearing, at this time of year, short sleeved fairisle jumpers beneath overcoats, scarves, and Andy Capp flat hats; and open-fingered woollen gloves, as they peddled their wares.  For those who haven’t worked it out, the shout was a vernacular version of Star, News, and Standard.  Andy Capp was a strip cartoon character created by Reg Smythe for the Daily Mirror, a newspaper still costing money.  An endearing, disreputable working class symbol, who never actually worked, wore a flat cap, always had a fag hanging out of his mouth, and had a wife called Flo, he remains a great favourite.

Workmen refurbishing the railings of Ashley Gardens mansion flats in SW1 had this morning transformed the wall surrounding the grand entrance steps into a drinks station.

This afternoon I sent my next Independent offering to the crossword editor.  I also received an e-mail from one of the Times Listener editors asking for the solution grid and notes to one I sent them in 2006.  It is very unusual for it to take such a long time for one of these puzzles to be processed, but a backlog developed after the sudden, untimely, death of Derek Arthur, who was the lead editor, and the items requested were not given to Roger Philips who now carries out that task.  He has, nevertheless, solved the puzzle and I await the verdict.  If the puzzle has reached Roger, that means Shane Shabankareh, his co-editor, is happy with it, so I am cautiously optimistic.  This submission was prepared on the Apple which is in The Firs, so there will be a brief delay in my providing the relevant material.

Jackie had had a very emotional time at work, when the last hour and a half of the day had been occupied by a farewell party attended by present and former colleagues, each one of whom stepped forward to say something.  She had hoped for a very minor, low, key send-off, but got the opposite.  I would have been very disappointed had this much-loved woman who has given her working life to the people of Merton received anything less.  Mind you, I had starved myself all day in order to do justice to the meal I had prepared, only to be told that spicy foods from around the world had been provided, so she wasn’t that hungry.  She was, however, later on, able to help me eat yesterday’s leftovers and a rogan josh fresh from the freezer.  Yesterday’s wine was also finished off.