Seventies City Celebrations

This morning I scanned the double spread pages of

of which this is the book jacket,

and this, the Title Page and Frontispiece.

As will be apparent, my scanner cannot take the entire width of the book so I have, perforce, trimmed each side taking care to nip off the less important elements.

The small volume was published in 1975 and therefore contains much nostalgia for one who grew up in London from 1942.

In order not to swamp readers today, the second half of the pages will be held over until tomorrow. All can be enlarged by accessing the gallery.

‘Bleak House’ Comes To The End

Last night I finished reading my Folio Society edition of ‘Bleak House’ By Charles Dickens.

First published in instalments from March 1852 to August 1853, this is a superb novel from a writer at the peak of his powers. As is my wont I will not provide details of the story which other readers may wish to discover for themselves, save to say that, through the interminable case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, it is a scathing attack on the Court of Chancery, but so much more besides. The scope and complexity of the author’s work reflects that of the legal system itself.

A host of brilliantly depicted characters thread their ways through the narrative in a more thoroughly composed manner than in any of his previous works. There is an abundance of Dickens’s wit and humour and both bucolic and sordid urban descriptions.

There is romance and mystery awaiting resolution at the end of the book, when, as usual, the concluding situations of the panoply of protagonists and supporting characters are strung together like neatly tied bundles of Chancery papers.

There are also desperately tragic lives hopelessly ruined by conditions of the day.

Christopher Hibbert’s introduction is as knowledgeable and informative as usual.

Before lunch I scanned the last four illustrations by the truly inimitable Charles Keeping.

In ‘ ‘I beg to lay the ouse, the business, and myself before Miss Summerson’ ‘ Keeping has suggested the gulf between the speaker and his audience both by the use of the space in the double spread, and by the expressions on the faces.

‘Even the clerks were laughing’ has its own story to tell.

‘The mausoleum in the park’ is suitably forbidding;

and ‘Bleak House’ Mark 2 quite the opposite.

Following Flo’s lead of transferring barrow loads of compost to the Rose Garden yesterday,

Jackie, who had cleaned out the water fountain, and I continued tidying the

said Garden, now featuring plentiful forget-me-nots and bluebells.

Later, Flo spread more compost on the Pond Bed.

(Yvonne, you need read no further)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfectly cooked roast lamb dinner; complete with crisp Yorkshire pudding, sage and onion stuffing, and roast potatoes, including the sweet variety; crunchy carrots, firm broccoli, and tender cabbage; all with meaty gravy. Rice pudding laced with strawberry jam was to follow. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Four More Chapters

This afternoon I posted

Later, after reading four more chapters of ‘Bleak House’, I scanned another set of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations.

‘Mrs Bagnet proposes a departure’ contains three of the artist’s portraits.

‘Clattering over the stones at a dangerous pace’ presents Mr Keeping’s sense of movement;

his mastery of perspective is demonstrated by ‘We stopped at the corner of a little slimy turning’

One of the portraits in ‘ ‘Who will tell him?’ ‘ will be recognised from the first of this quartet of pictures.

Jackie produced her trademark chicken and vegetable stewp for our dinner this evening. None of us imbibed.

A Double Spread

Taking it easy today, I posted after lunch,

and then scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s superb illustrations to ‘Bleak House’.

The artist’s emotional breadth is displayed in ‘She drew his head down on her breast, and held it there’

‘ ‘I would rather be hanged in my own way,’ ‘

‘Mr Tulkinghorn shut up in his dark carriage, and Mr Bucket shut up in his’ makes use of a double spread.

‘Mademoiselle Hortense eyes him with a scowl upon her tight face’ is perfectly depicted.

Later, I watched the BBC live broadcast of the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between England and Wales.

This evening we finished the Red Chilli takeaway to which Jackie added some paneer of her own.

A Keeping Range

I felt so much better today that I was beginning to get itchy feet, especially when Jackie and Flo went for a shopping trip this afternoon. Common sense prevailed and I stayed at home and read four more chapters of ‘Bleak House’.

Earlier, I had posted

Later, I scanned the next set of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations to Dickens’s novel.

‘Near journey’s end’ is startlingly accurate.

‘A very quiet night’ demonstrates the artist’s ease with architecture.

In ‘Mr Bucket takes Quebec and Malta on his knees’ the child’s expression displays her doubt about the unusual attention from a virtual stranger.

A mother’s tenderness is portrayed in ‘I used to lay my small namesake in her arms’

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie with sautéed potato topping; crunchy carrots, firm broccoli, and tender runner beans, followed by rice pudding which, having been left in my charge, needed a certain amount of revivification.

Concentration Returning

For the last few days I have really been very out of sorts. With all the symptoms of the onset of a heavy cold, including a temperature above normal, a developing sore throat, and the inability to focus on much at all we have come to the conclusion that we have all met with the Omicron variant of Covid 19 which is currently rife in UK.

I have been dozing a lot, just about able to concentrate on and respond to comments on my own blog posts, and make sporadic observations on those of others. A few ‘Knight’s Tale’ episodes have been culled from earlier posts, but until today I have been unable fully to focus on ‘Bleak House’, from which I have scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s admirable illustrations.

‘Three young ladies, wonderfully like their father’

‘By-and-by I went to my old glass’

‘The long flat beach wore as dull an appearance as any place I ever saw’

‘The fugitive is brought to bay’

Becky returned home to Southbourne this afternoon.

Jackie, Flo, and I dined on the last of the Chinese Takeaway fare with the addition of pork spare ribs and tempura king prawns. No-one imbibed.

Probate Administration And Four More Chapters

With all three ladies having streaming head colds, no-one was going anywhere today.

This afternoon I scanned and e-mailed to the cemetery officials a copy of Mum’s grant of probate. Apparently this is necessary to have our mother’s name added to our father’s gravestone. I then focussed on completing a form for recovery of Jean Knight’s Premium Bonds, until I realised that I cannot do this until the Bank Account has been freed.

Checking the renewal of our home insurance policy was straightforward enough.

Next, I read four more chapters of Charles Dickens’s ‘Bleak House’ and scanned the relevant illustrations.

‘Mr Tulkinghorn, standing in the darkness opposite’

‘Sir Leicester finds the cousins useful’

‘Pacing her rooms, her figure twisted as if by pain’

‘She flings the sovereigns on the floor’

This evening, while the others grazed, Jackie and I dined on her delicious chicken and vegetable stewp with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.


This afternoon I posted

Later, I read more of ‘Bleak House’ and scanned three more of the inimitable Charle Keeping’s illustrations to my Folio Society edition.

‘She fell down on her knees’

‘Mr Grubble was standing at the door to his tavern’

‘Not only was the portrait there, but we found the original there too’

Meanwhile Jackie occupied herself with the preparation of dinners for tonight and for tomorrow.

Tonight’s chicken in Nando’s sauce was roasted in the oven.

With this tasty meal, the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Ian and Becky drank Tierra y Hombre Sauvignon Blanc 2021, while I finished the Tulga.

Grandfather Smallweed

Much of this afternoon was spent on the administration required to access the funds from Mum’s estate. An hour was spent in Barclay’s Bank in Lymington. Before then, Ian, who had driven me, pointed out that I had erroneously entered Lloyd’s Bank. We then had to find Barclay’s. Next, I had to wait for the one available advisor who asked me for I.D. I had no satisfactory photographic evidence and my NatWest Visa card wasn’t acceptable. Furthermore I should be dealing with the bank’s bereavement team. The only three comparatively local branches capable of this were located at Southampton, Ringwood, and Bournemouth.

The very helpful staff member took all my details, filled in a form, scanned this and the grant application document, e-mailed these to the bereavement team, and gave me the direct line number to phone them. I did that when we returned home and was informed that Mum’s account would be freed and I would be sent confirmation of this with the final balance.

I then telephoned the Premium Bond offices to free our mother’s funds in their account. I will be sent forms to complete for this.

Later, I scanned the next three of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Bleak House’.

‘The Sol’s Arms’

‘ ‘My dear friend,’ says Grandfather Smallweed’

‘Miss Flite’

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s smoked haddock; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots and tender runner beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank M & S rosé and I drank more of the Tulga.