The Quiet Coach

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Yesterday afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Clapham Junction. Luci met me there and transported me to her home in Hambalt Road, where I added my signature to various documents as joint executor of Wolf’s will.

We then spent the evening together enjoying wide-ranging conversation about our long term friendship, reminiscing about my friend, and thinking forward to the future. Luci cooked a very tasty lamb meat loaf served with sweet potatoes and salad followed by a chocolate sponge with blueberries and strawberries. We shared a bottle of Wolf Blass red label 2016. I stayed the night in preparation for our visit to the Probate Court.

BegoniasBegonias etc

Luci’s well tended small paved back garden is full of mature shrubs and large pots planted chiefly with begonias.

Buddleia etc

A buddleia is trained against the back fence,

Geraniums

and red geraniums reach out from a hanging basket.

Clapham South Station

In the middle of the morning Luci drove us to Clapham South Underground Station nearby  which she parked the car and we continued our journey to Chancery Lane by Tube.

Bicycles chained up

Only yesterday evening our friend had been speaking of the increase in cyclists taking to the roads in London. Those machines chained to railings immediately outside the station and opposite bear witness to this.

Conker tree

Conker trees are coming to fruition on Clapham Common,

Jogger

on and past which joggers exercised.

Bus in traffic

This No 50 bus approaching the tube station will have left Stockwell on its way to Katherine Street, Croydon via Streatham, Norbury, and Thornton Heath. It has to make its way through far more traffic that would have been the case when it began operating in the early 1950s. We travelled through Stockwell on our way to The Royal Court of Justice. A bus would have taken much longer.

At the court we were subjected to scanning and searching similar to that undertaken by airport security. My metal hip, as usual, set off the alarm, and, arms akimbo, I stood until my statement that it was my hip that had rung the bell was confirmed. My cameras were temporarily confiscated, and my electric toothbrush caused a little excitement.

Swearing the oath relating to the application for probate was smooth and straightforward.

Luci accompanied me in a taxi to Waterloo where I caught the train back to Brockenhurst. Jackie then drove me back home.

On each of my journeys to and from London I was engaged in contrasting discussions in the Quiet Coach. This is the one carriage where it is forbidden to use mobile phones and customers are asked to be quiet.

On the outward journey there were not many passengers on board. An obviously important gentleman joined at Southampton and sat diagonally opposite me. He proceeded to take phone calls and deliver instructions about someone who had just undergone an operation and should not fly for three days. At the end of the second conversation I pointed to the signs – one over each seat – and asked him if he realised he was in the quiet coach. He said he did and the calls were about a patient in  hospital. I replied that we were well aware of that because we could hear everything. Another passenger chipped in with “You could go to another coach”. “Well, if it’s that important….” replied the miscreant. He then rose to his feet, screamed at me that “what’s important is that I take the call”, and, phone in hand, disappeared from the carriage, soon to return. He again sat down and concentrated on his laptop, thumping his hand up and down on the table until he wore himself out.

The return journey’s conversation was rather different. The carriage was packed. I found two sets of four seats spanning the narrow gangway. Four were occupied, four were piled with luggage. One young man was talking on his mobile phone. Feeling like a really crotchety old git I said “I need one of these seats. I don’t care which”. Only the young man, continuing his conversation, moved his backpack from the seat. I thanked him and sat down. I thought I would not interrupt until the train got under way. I always believe in giving people a chance. Nothing changed after we set off. I went into my now all to familiar routine. Reacting crossly, the lad turned his phone off. There was a bit of remonstration and I was allowed to get back to my book. After a few more minutes my companion apologised and said he had just been for a job interview and was in a bad mood. I was most sympathetic; we chatted for a while about the job and the problem of interviews in general; I returned to my book; he plugged in earphones; we ended up the best of friends, and said our farewells when I left.

I’m not sure I will have the stomach for the quiet coach on my next journey.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. I finished the Bordeaux and Jackie drank sparkling water.

Charles Holden’s Legacy

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I have used the London Underground almost all my life. My earliest memory is of visits to South Kensington where my maternal grandparents lived in the early 1950s.

Bright Underground Spaces

It was not until Helen and Bill gave me this book for Christmas that I had ever paid attention to the architecture of the stations, despite many thousands of trips through many of the total of 270.

This beautifully presented work, which I finished reading today, would appeal to anyone even vaguely interested in our capital, its history, its buildings, or its communication networks. Lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs and original drawings., the author tells of what must have been the boom period in the 1920s and ’30s of the laying down of the underground veins of the metropolis. These were the decades of Holden’s architectural influence, before progress was interrupted by World War 2. Although he continued to operate into the 1950s, this was largely in a consultancy capacity.

I suppose, like most of us today, I concentrate on battling my way through the crowds, having ‘no time to stand and stare’ at the truly amazing complete design projects that are these working stations, now far more busy than could have been originally envisaged. Nevertheless, most of these early facilities, albeit many adapted and updated, are still in use today, although some have been renamed. Most have survived well, and are still up to the task.

Piccadilly Circus Station

I could not estimate the number of times I have walked around the splendid underground ring of Piccadilly Circus without understanding that it replicated the overground ring surrounding the statue of Eros.

Drawings for Eastcote

These drawings for Eastcote demonstrate the thought and skill that was applied to all furniture and fittings.

Morden Station

When we lived in Morden, I used that terminal station of the Northern Line frequently. The sight of the classy shops and sparse populace would amaze anyone currently fighting their way into the station, and being depressed by the current items on offer in the rather less attractive outlets. (Like many illustrations, this one was a double spread).

Clapham Common Station

Anyone who has not read of or does not remember the use to which the Gents at Clapham Common, outside which a gentleman stands with his arms folded, has now been put, may care to follow this link to A Bit Of A Bummer.

Trinity Road Tube station

In https://derrickjknight.com/2012/10/31/curry-a-biography/ I feature a photograph of Tooting Bec station as it is today. When first built it was called Trinity Road, on the corner of which it stands. From 1980 until moving to Newark in 1987, a pack on my back, I ran past this building every weekday on my way to Edgware Road in North London. The Camp Coffee advertised on the wall to the left in Trinity Road was a treacly mixture to be stirred into a cup of hot water, administered by my maternal grandmother. If it is still available today, I don’t want to know.

As mentioned in https://derrickjknight.com/2014/01/25/all-is-flux-nothing-stays-still/,in the summer of 2013, the public house ‘The Colliers Tup’, opposite Colliers Wood tube station, has undergone a complete facelift and has been renamed ‘The Charles Holden’. I will look upon his legacy with fresh eyes in the future.

Menu

Our friends Vicki and Barrie joined us for the evening, which was as hilarious as we expected. In her own fair hand Jackie wrote me out a menu in order to expedite this post. She was too humble to add the necessary superlatives, but I’m sure you could supply some yourselves. Cabernet sauvignon, Hoegaarden, water, and fruit juices were imbibed

A Bit Of A Bummer

Continuous rain fell today, but the temperature was still very warm.

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton for the London train and lunch with Wolf and Luci. From Waterloo I took the Northern Line tube to Clapham Common and walked to our friends’ home in Hambalt Road, reversing the process after stimulating conversation and an excellent lunch prepared by Luci. We enjoyed a tasty chicken casserole, new potatoes, and a tangy melange of some six or seven flavoursome vegetables. Luci’s seasonal pumpkin pie perked up with black cherries. She and I drank a very good Claret from 2012. Wolf, as always, preferred apple juice.

With more than an hour left of the outward journey, a gentleman preparing to sit on the opposite side of the corridor from me, had some difficulty removing his outer clothing. This necessitated his wriggling his rear end in my direction in a rather ungainly fashion. The aisles on these trains are very narrow. It was only after he had managed to place part of the said stern on his seat that I realised the young man was not. In fact he was so fat that one leg was permanently planted in the gangway. When people squeezed past, it was I who, for self preservation, needed to lurch to my right in order to avoid contact with various anatomical parts, depending on the height and contours of the individuals concerned, and whether their fronts or backs were presented to me. The bunch of keys attached to the guard’s belt could have put my eye out. A bit of a bummer, really.

Wine and charcuterie

I have mentioned before how most public conveniences outside central London are no longer kept open. As I left Clapham Common underground station, I noticed that the railings for the lavatories attached to the building were unbolted and open. For a moment I had thought I may be able to avail myself of the facilities. Before descending the steps I noticed the chairs half way down, the board advertising Live Music, and, more importantly, what WC now stands for. If you care to click on the image you will also see it. This was also rather disappointing. I can only hope that some of the original closets have been retained for the use of current customers.

Clapham Common

The street behind the station, beyond the grass bank at the edge of the common, is also more up-market than it once was. I wonder what the generations of crows have made of the changes.

Clapham Common

It was a bright and sunny day for my visit to old friends Wolf and Luci. Jackie, as usual New Milton stationTrain in New Milton stationdrove me to and from New Milton Station for the train to Waterloo. From the terminal, I took the Northern Line to Clapham Common, along the South Side of which I walked, Elms Roadcrossing over to Elms Road, right into Abbeville Road, and left into Hambalt Road to their home. I returned home by the same methods.Clapham CommonLeaf clearing

Maple leaves were falling on the common where work forces were engaged in clearing them up, mostly with extended ‘big hands’ to aid the process. Maple trunkBlue pigment on a particularly gnarled trunk produced an interesting abstract painting.

Pigeons and rooksCanada geesePigeons and cattle troughPigeons, rooks, and Canada geese scratched about in well clawed soil, and Bullfrogs overlooked the redundant cattle trough, now planted with flowers.

Temperance fountainAlso apparently redundant, certainly unusable, is the drinking fountain provided by The United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Association. This grand sculptured structure, even if it were functioning as it did in Victorian times, would probably be eschewed by the various gentlemen occupying the benches as they glugged alcoholic beverages straight from their cans. Temperance fountain lionThe lions embellishing each side would probably never again have their thirsts slaked by the blocked and rusting fountain.

When I lived or worked in London I had enjoyed a monthly lunch with my friends. Unfortunately this frequency is no longer possible but whenever Jackie and I see them it is equally pleasurable, as it was today. Today Luci produced a tender lamb casserole, wild rice, parsnips, and brussels sprouts, followed by her trademark flavoursome crustless pumpkin pie. She and I both drank Wolf Blass red wine, while Wolf drank his customary apple juice.

Luci wrapped up a helping of the dessert for Jackie, who enjoyed it as much as I did. After that superb lunch, I didn’t join my lady for dinner.

Derrick and WolfOn my return home I was greeted by an e-mail from Luci containing very good photographs of Wolf and me taken with her Samsung mobile phone.