Young Artists

Our 212 mile round trip to Mat and Tess’s home in Upper Dicker gave Jackie and me a whole new slant on driving rain.

We were there to celebrate New Years Day with them, with Poppy; and with Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen. The families were gathered in the Village Shop where we enjoyed Tess’s meal of glazed ham, roast potatoes various salads, and red cabbage, followed by a dessert of Christmas pudding, ice cream, and brownies. My beverage was malbec. No further nourishment was required after we returned home.

Glazed ham meal

The door was locked, but several hopeful customers peered in the windows until they realised we were having a private function.

Within seconds, the two little girls were jumping up and down trying to give us our Christmas present. A general distribution ensued.

Mat, Errol, Louisa, Tess, Poppy (Jessica and Imogen)

When we sat down to eat Jessica and Imogen disappeared behind their easel and canvas kits we had given them. They can be glimpsed at the far end of this picture which, along with others shows something about the evocative atmosphere of the cafe area.

Errol, Imogen, Jessica, Louisa, PoppyLouisa, Poppy and Jessica

Jessica painting

Jessica painted the still life to her right,

Imogen painting

and Imogen the dining table with decorations above.

Tess, Poppy, Imogen

Poppy tried out most of the other available presents. Here she is watched by Imogen.



Imogen serving

was served by the girls, who will be attending to paying customers at breakfast tomorrow.

Chamberlayne Road

My post ‘You Know What You’ve Got’, describes my general approach to painkillers. On each of the last few days, I have tried to do without them, yet succumbed by midday. Today, demonstrating more improvement, was definitely one for leaving them alone. Until mid afternoon, that is.

With a clearer head, I delved further into my stray negative collection and scanned another seven from the 1970s. Normally, processed film arrives from the photographic outlets in strips of five or six, and it is those that I place in the scanner’s template. Today’s odd selection consisted of one strip of three, one of two, and two single frames. They did not therefore constitute a cohesive set, and don’t sit so well in the scanner. Fortunately, I was able to identify and date them all with reasonable accuracy, aided by my vast number of photo albums.Mum 12.82Dad 12.82


The strip of three was the easiest. I was confident in deciding that Mum, Dad, and Elizabeth had all been photographed at the Christmas 1982 tea party featured yesterday.Jessica 6.74 002 copy

The set of two was of Jessica, taken in the garden of Droop Street in June 1974, and was fairly straightforward to identify, because we had only recently got together.

A single frame of Michael and his dog has already featured in ‘Piper’, who story is told there.

One lunchtime in May 1977, forgetting that I had a camera slung over my right shoulder, I walked down Chamberlayne Road in North West London en route to what was my favourite cafe at that time. Sometime around the beginning of the current millennium, I received a remarkable reminder of this. Norman, at that time, was still living in Harlesden, and I was early for lunch with him. I therefore sat in the Witherspoon’s pub near the clock at Willesden, and drank a coffee. A fairly short, grey-haired gentleman approached me from the other end of the hostelry. I was unaware of his presence until he uttered the immortal words: ‘Pork chop and two veg’. The reason I needed a double take to establish that this was the erstwhile cafe proprietor was not just the grey hair. I had thought this man was very tall. He must have stood on a raised floor behind his serving counter in order to tower over his customers.

Three black giris 5.77

That, I hope, explains how, perhaps thirty years earlier, I had come to be making my way to the cafe, when three young ladies, arm in arm, rather fully occupied the pavement. The one in the middle asked me to take their photograph, which I happily did. Every time I have ever looked at a print of that since, I regret not having asked for an address to which I could send copies. If you are one, or know any, of these women, please get in touch, and I will make up the deficit.

It was marvellous that Jackie once again had the energy to provide her delicious liver casserole, mashed potato, crisp carrots, cabbage and green beans for our dinner this evening; and that I had the appetite for it. All will soon be right with the world.