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 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.
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.
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.
An underpass leads to the canal and Little Venice. I ran many miles alongside this stretch of water. 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.
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. Many a time have I passed under or over the blue 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.
St. 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.