A Knight’s Tale (84: Charles And Betty)

When I walked past it on 15th August 2012, as often, before 10 a.m. opening time, when it would open, there was a queue outside Merton Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  These offices, now found all over London, are charities where people in need may obtain information, and at certain dedicated times, free legal advice.  Relying on various sources of funding, their opening hours are restricted.  This put me in mind of Charles and Betty Wegg-Prosser.  By the time I joined the Beauchamp Lodge Settlement Committee in 1974, Charles was no longer actively involved, although Betty was in the chair, where she remained for some years until I took over the position.  She was still a lively and influential member.  As a leading Labour Lawyer, Charles had, I think, founded the Paddington Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  This was a couple who gave a great deal to the poor and underpriveleged of Paddington.

Wikipedia has this to say: ‘Charles Wegg-Prosser (16 August 1910 – 7 October 1996) was a British politician and solicitor.

Wegg-Prosser attended the Downside School, then studied at Oriel College, Oxford, and became a solicitor. In 1934, he joined the British Union of Fascists (BUF), soon becoming director of the group’s Shoreditch branch. For the April 1936 edition of the “Fascist Quarterly”, Wegg-Prosser wrote “The Worker and the State”, denouncing Communist governments as “controlled, not by national workers, but by parasitic Jews” and Fabianism as a “Jewish racket.”

At the 1937 London County Council election, he stood for the party in Limehouse, and the party then relocated him to Paddington.[1][2]

Wegg-Prosser became disillusioned with fascism, making contact with anti-fascist activists, and leaving the BUF at the end of 1937. He then began speaking out against the group’s anti-semitism and fondness of dictatorship, and was admitted to the Labour Party, on a year’s probation. He served in the British Army during World War II.[1][2]

In 1945, Wegg-Prosser was elected to Paddington Metropolitan Borough Council, soon becoming chair of its finance committee, and then leader of the Labour group on the council. He stood unsuccessfully in Paddington South at the 194519501951 and 1955 UK general elections. He campaigned against Peter Rachman, was the first chair of the North Kensington Law Centre, and was the first Labour activist to be elected to the governing body of the Law Society.[1][2][3]

Progress Report

Last night Jackie managed to set the central heating system to come on at 6.30 a.m. Now we are warm. Seated in the living room which abuts the hall/office she heard a dull tapping she described as ‘bonk, bonk’. As she walked out to investigate the radiator under the bay window the noise stopped. After she had repeated this three times she stood in the doorway waiting for an encore of the sound. Five minutes went by. Then a blackbird perched on the windowsill and tapped out a ‘bonk, bonk’.
Martin Taylor came on time this morning and plumbed in the washing machine; temporarily fitted the oven on the work surface; advised us on redesigning the kitchen; and suggested we try to obtain the cooker housing to match the rest of the Moben installation.
Our predecessors had retained all useful paperwork including that from Moben kitchens, I rang them to ask if the oven container could be matched. The number was out of commission. A Google search revealed that the company had gone into liquidation. Not being a very good surfer I soon became tired of researching other sources. We can think about that another time.

At least the cooker is now operative. Not only is the oven working, as you can tell by the timer light in the photograph, but it reflects some of the other tasks we completed today. We moved some furniture from the lumber room, where we hope to sit in comfort one day, to other parts of the house. A Chinese cabinet I bought when in Sutherland place is seen in its new home in the kitchen.

Actually we are now able to see that we will have a sitting room one day, particularly as some of the floor is now empty.  The foreground of the picture that shows this, bears evidence that I have today paid, by telephone, the final electricity bill for Castle Malwood Lodge.
I rather treasure the red waste bin that peeps into shot from the right. Readers may recognise the partly obscured Adult Literacy logo. I have often mentioned Beauchamp Lodge Settlement, of which I was chairperson for many years. One of the tenants in the ’70s and ’80s was an Adult Literacy Scheme. When they moved on they left their bin behind and I snaffled it as a memento. That organisation existed to bring together volunteer teachers and those who wished to learn to read. I don’t think it is still functioning.

The office is looking a bit cluttered at the moment, but I have hoovered the floor and Jackie put a rug down.

A statement of intent to turn the garage into a library has been made.

Is there anything in life more satisfying than flat packing a SafeStore box after use and stacking it away?

When we first viewed our new home, we lunched at The Royal Oak pub, and were rather less than impressed. In January the establishment had closed down and was up for rent. Only a couple of days ago did it re-open under new management. This evening we thought we would try it again.The last three days’ steady rain had just made way for a sunset that lent an optimistic glow to the building. John was a very attentive host. The food was good and reasonably priced. I ate fish and chips whilst Jackie consumed chicken in bacon and drank Stella. My choice of wine was Invenio merlot d’Oc 2013.

Able Assignments To The Rescue

18th May 2013

Country Rock at Le Code Bar

A heavy deluge and a distant thunderstorm beset us yesterday afternoon and throughout the night.  Intermittent rain and strong, cold, winds persisted today, so it is just as well that I continued cleaning, tidying, and hanging pictures.

After this I amused myself writing out a bilingual snagging list.  I suppose the need for one was inevitable.  Thierry is yet to return to finish off and the unlit back corridor, completed after 9 p.m., is less than brilliant.

What needs to be done here is nothing compared to that required by Beauchamp Lodge Settlement in the early 1990s.  As Chairman I had a real problem on my hands.  The charity had been forced to sell the beautiful early nineteenth century building in Little Venice it had occupied until then because we did not have, and could not raise the £500,000 required to bring it back to a safe standard.Distracted from the music

The Greater London Council had owned the building and let it to us for a peppercorn rent.  Through the intervention of Councillor Anne Mallinson, later to become mayor, we had been able to buy the building at less than market rate; sell it for a greater sum; and buy a far less salubrious terraced building on the north  side of Regents Canal further west along Harrow Road.

Much work was required to make this address fit for our purposes and ready for occupation.  A firm was engaged to carry out the work, and a deadline set.  Nothing was done for weeks.  Promises were made and excuses given.  Progress was minimal.  Six weeks before we were due to move in I sacked the building company.

What to do next?  No-one wants to complete major works which have been fiddled about with by a predecessor.  Least of all Michael, whose policy is never to touch another builder’s snagging, and who didn’t relish the two hour drive to North London, before and after each day’s work.  Nevertheless he, Matthew, and the rest of the Able Assignments team came to the rescue and did me proud.  We were able to move in on time and they continued the refurbishment with little inconvenience to the activities of the charity.

We must have had a removal firm to transport our furniture, files, and other equipment, but for some reason I only remember the moving of one desk.  The Settlement’s original and subsequent homes were about a mile apart.  In drizzling rain, Roderick Graham, a debt counsellor, and I carried this piece from one to the other.  The next day I had a cataract operation in Nottingham.Solo slot

This afternoon I began reading Susan Hill’s ‘The Service of Clouds’ before Maggie and Mike collected me and drove me to their home in Eymet where we tried a new Indian takeaway restaurant.  Poppy’s produced quite the best curry I have tasted in France.  The proprietors are an English couple, the woman of which cooks the food before your very eyes.  A limited menu is rapidly and superbly produced.  The phal was very much to my liking.  With it I drank an excellent Chateau Laville Bertou reserve minervois 2010.  I chose it because it bore the tag Reflets de France, and I have found that whatever the product this is always a very reliable label.  Not only that.  I couldn’t find any Kingfisher.

Dana, Sandrine’s husband who has joined the family concern drove me back to Sigoules where I was entertained for an hour or so by Jamie and the Crazy Hearts; the drummer barely discernible in a corner behind three guitarists, one being the energetic lead singer who announced the numbers in French and sang in his native English; performing a Country Rock concert in Le Code Bar. Country Rock at Le Code Bar (2) Having eaten with the Kindreds, I declined the barbecue that was on offer.

The Tree House

Tree House 12.12

This morning I took the Minstead, Football Green, Shave Wood and London Minstead circular route.  In case anyone is wondering, London Minstead is so-named because it lies on what was the road to London.  That such a narrow winding lane should have been the way to the capital is amazing by today’s standards.
.Minstead was very crowded this morning.  Cars were parked on every available space, including all the grass verges.  As The Trusty Servant came into view I saw a gathering of horses; riders in hunting outfits; friends and families, including children in buggies; and various assorted dogs.  Drinks were being passed around, and the staff of the inn were distributing tasty looking snacks.  I asked one of the observers whether this was a hunt party or whether they were actually gathering for a hunt.  ‘It is a meet.’, she said, ‘In a while the master will call them all together for the off”.  I expressed surprise that they would need such sustenance before setting out on such an exercise.  She assured me it was needed before they left.Meet, Minstead 12.12.(2)JPG

A large garden on the way to Minstead contains a tree bearing what I assume to be a derelict house.  This always reminds me of Sam’s tree-house in an old false acacia in the grounds of Lindum House.  He built this with friends some twenty-odd years ago.  This structure was of two, possibly three storeys.  It could, and on occasion did, harbour several boys overnight.  One day he found an estate agent’s ‘For Sale’ board.  This was placed in a prominent position on the tree, and was visible from the road.

I have mentioned Beauchamp Lodge Settlement before (e.g. 15th August).  One of the projects managed by this charity was the Community Cafe.  At the time Sam’s tree-house appeared to be up for sale, a young woman with a pronounced Lincolnshire accent worked in the cafe.  I asked her to make a phone call expressing interest in buying the property which was very close to Lincolnshire.  It seemed to work a treat when Sam answered the phone.  Knowing my son, however, I suspect he probably twigged what was going on and decided to humour his Dad into believing he had been hoodwinked.  Louisa was not forbidden to enter Sam’s house, but she and a little friend did build their own less ambitious one in another tree.

The cafe project was one in which a small staff was augmented by trainees who either had mental health problems or special educational needs.  One day one of the people on placement who had psychiatric ill health asked me if I’d bought my Lottery ticket.  I said I didn’t buy any because I considered I had no chance of winning.  Quick as a flash he replied ‘that man who won several million last week wouldn’t have done if he thought he had no chance’.  I had to acknowledge the sense of that argument.

This evening we drove to Helen and Bill’s at Poulner where we enjoyed a very convivial family dinner party.  Helen produced a truly excellent meal which would have graced the best of restaurants.  We started with parsnip and gruyere goujeres which were both crispy and melted in the mouth.  The next course was a rich, tasty, and succulent French beef stew with perfectly timed vegetables.  This was followed by a tangy lemon mousse with home-made chocolate and cranberry biscuits; then a cheeseboard.  Various red and white wines were consumed; port accompanied a cheeseboard.


On this dull and humid morning I had intended to follow Jackie’s suggestion that I take a bus somewhere and walk around there.  As I reached Morden bus station, a few drops of rain suggested I should pay attention to the weather forecast, and stay closer to home.  I therefore backtracked and made a tour of the derelict school sportsground and Morden Park.  I had received an e-mail from Mike Kindred telling me it was even hotter in the village I had just left.

As often, before 10 a.m. when they open, there was a queue outside Merton Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  These offices, now found all over London, are charities where people in need may obtain information, and at certain dedicated times, free legal advice.  Relying on various sources of funding, their opening hours are restricted.  This put me in mind of Charles and Betty Wegg-Prosser.  By the time I joined the Beauchamp Lodge Settlement Committee in 1974, Charles was no longer actively involved, although Betty was in the chair, where she remained for some years until I took over the position.  She was still a lively and influential member.  Settlements are charitable community organisations which either run or house activities, such as Adult Literacy schemes and various projects for young, disabled, or elderly people.  There are also facilities for minority groups, often accommodating them until they are established enough to obtain their own premises.  As a leading Labour Lawyer, Charles had founded the Paddington Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  This was a couple who gave a great deal to the poor and underpriveleged of Paddington.

Passing the concrete slabs, on which I sometimes sit and read in the sunshine, at the opening to the former ILEA sportsground, I noticed three vans parked on the grass.  A gang of men were laying something out beside them.  Naturally I wandered over to investigate.  They were in the process of erecting a marquee which was to house the expected overflow from the mosque which would be celebrating Eid at the weekend. Eid celebrates the end of Ramadin.  It is an end to fasting.Cameo event hire 8.12  Although the mosque itself, a tour of which I described on 18th. May, has a great deal of accommodation, it was not expected to cope with the many thousands of people who would be converging on this small suburb at the weekend.   Perhaps in preparation for this, the meadows were being mown by two enormous vehicles.  This was much more sophisticated machinery than the scythe with which I had romantically cut down our orchard meadow in Lindum House every autumn, taking care not to slaughter that year’s young frogs which frantically leapt out of my way.  For a different reason, I also carefully avoided disturbing bees’ nests when I applied the mower to it.

The windows and doors to the derelict building, posted on 29th. June, have now been cemented over, but someone has determinedly broken into two of them and placed an access board against one.  The inside is still a complete shambles.  The unofficial car parking area has had Flytipping (see 2nd. July) notices attached.

Graffiti artists had remembered the Queen’s Jubilee earlier in the year.  The Olympic torch also puts in an appearance.

On a wooded footpath I came across a squirrel burying his nuts.  When he had no trouble scampering away, I was reminded of the hoary old jocular definition of a macho man, being one who runs home from his vasectomy.  The owner of an interested Alsatian made his dog sit down and watch me walk by.  I thanked him.  When I arrived back at Links Avenue, the rain was falling in earnest.  Probably on Ernest as well, since he was going shopping.

Our repast this evening was a varied salad accompaned by Wickham Celebration rose, 2010