A Knight’s Tale (75: Trips Around The Neighbourhood)

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Brass-rubbing was a feature of St James’s Church, Piccadilly in the 1970s.  I once took Matthew and Becky there for the afternoon.  At £5, which was still quite a lot of money in those days, I thought this quite a reasonable outlay for an afternoon’s activity.  The two excited children rampaged around the crypt, gathering reams of large paper with a rub rub here, a rub rub there, everywhere a rub rub.  Eventually I got the bill.  It was £5 for each rubbing.  After a lengthy debate with the staff we came to a compromise.

Trafalgar Square was another local attraction. In September 1976, Matthew attempted to scale one of the lions around the base of Nelson’s Column.

In December 1979 it was still permitted to feed the feral pigeons in the square. This is no longer possible. Matthew and Becky brought their own bread, although seed was sold in the square in those days.

We would often walk to the Jubilee Sports Hall in Covent Garden for them to have fun on the trampoline.  Seeking an activity for myself, I chose once more to pick up weights, with which I had trained in The Wimbledon YMCA gym during my twenties.  The hall’s availabilty as a sporting venue was under threat, and, as part of the campaign to preserve it, a Chinese photographer produced a superb set of large illustrations which lined the entrance staircase.  I featured in one, pushing up a bench press.  Michael’s friend Eddie, was playing football in another.  It was in this hall that I played my first game of Badminton.  An ungainly pit-a-pat performance.  I happened, rashly, to mention this to Carol Elstub, my deputy at the time.  She informed Ken Coleman, one of the Assistant Directors of Social Services.  Ken, she said, played Badminton.  She told Ken I played Badminton.  She flattered me.  A game was arranged.  Ken turned out to be a Middlesex County Coach.  Never mind, he taught me the game.  We played regularly for some years.  I would never beat him, but I did often manage to make him angry with himself.  Our games took place in Queen’s Park Jubilee Hall, a short walk from my office.  This particular venue is bound to be mentioned again.

When we lived in Soho, the old Covent Garden was ripe for speculators who moved in steadily to change what had become a daily craft market, where people sold their own work, into an outlet for more manufactured goods; and to convert some of the old buildings into classy shops and restaurants. It remains a thriving area, if lacking the old world charm of the ’70s and ’80s. Bustling cafes have open-air seating, and buskers,

like my guitarist, still perform to

enthralled crowds, such as those I pictured in September 1982. 

Three years earlier Matthew and Becky would scour the stalls for presents to take home with them.

Pandering to my penchant for visual puns my image of these home crafted slips was framed and hung on the wall of the dining room in Newark.

Blackberrying

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Today, I scanned another batch of black and white negatives from 1985.

Garden of gite 1985

Here is a view of the garden of the gite,

Jessica 1985

where Jessica basked in the evening sun.

Matthew, Sam, Louisa, farmyard fowl 1985

Here Matthew introduces Sam and Louisa to farmyard fowl,

Matthew, Sam, Louisa, cattle and farmyard fowl

soon attracting the usually inquisitive cattle.

Back home in London we paid one of our regular visits to Covent Garden, where Jessica, Sam, and Louisa enjoyed the Punch and Judy show. Sam entered gleefully into the spirit of the occasion, whereas Louisa found it all a little tiring.

On another occasion we walked around the corner from our Gracedale Road home for a blackberrying expedition on Tooting Bec Common. Sam, as evidenced by the purple smear across his cheeks, adhered to the normal custom of eating as much of the fruit as found its way into his container.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Royal China, where we enjoyed our usual warm welcome and excellent meal. We both drank Tsingtao beer.

Mordred’s Conception

This morning I posted my final photograph of the Filling Facebook with Nature project.

Kingsbury's Lane flooding

This is it. It featured in my Kingsbury’s Lane post of 14th January 2014.

Jackie continued with the clearance and soil replenishment of Margery’s Bed. I rendered a certain minimal assistance in carrying away weeds and clippings, and carting compost. Aaron and Robin continued with the fence project.

I then scanned the rest of the recently discovered black and white negatives from the end of 1983. First of all, I found I had more of the October Covent Garden trip, reminding me that Giles had brought Ben along too.

Ben on Giles's shoulders 10.83

Ben perched on his father’s shoulders to watch Punch and Judy,

Giles (and Ben) 10.83

then they both enjoyed ice creams,

Sam 10.83

and eventually joined Sam

Giles, Becky and Ben 10.83 2Giles, Ben and Becky

and Becky on the barriers.

Soon after this Jessica and I travelled up to Nottinghamshire with Sam and Louisa, and renewed our friendship with Maggie and Mike Kindred who lived in Southwell’s Dover Street. It was as a consequence of this trip that Mordred was conceived.

The reason for the visit was for me to run the Newark Half Marathon for the first time.

Sam and Louisa 10.83 1Sam and Louisa 10.83We took the opportunity to visit Bulcote Lodge, Jessica’s family home from the age of 8. Our two children had not been there before because their maternal grandparents had moved to Wiltshire some years earlier.

Sam and Louisa 10.83 3

Sam was particularly intrigued by the sundial near the front door. Louisa wasn’t.

Sam 10.83

The duckpond had now dried up.

Jessica and Sam 10.83 1

Bulcote’s Holy Trinity Church lies across the road from the house. Jessica contemplates the place of worship to which, more than twenty years later, Louisa was to return to marry Errol.

Louisa 10.83

On this occasion the toddler was asleep in the car.

Derrick and Louisa 10.83 1

Back at Dover Street, we wandered around the small town,

Jessica and Louisa 10.83 3Jessica and Louisa 10.83 4Jessica and Louisa 5

and, from the garden,  I photographed Jessica and Louisa having fun in the kitchen.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on veritable fusion food, consisting of the remains of yesterday’s chicken piri-piri meal combined with the contents of a doggie bag brought back from Royal China the night before, and the Culinary Queen’s savoury rice. This was followed by syrup sponge pudding and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Carles priorat 2011.

He Was Not Alone

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Fly in gladiolus

Here is my third photograph in the seven day Filling Facebook with Nature project. I posted it after lunch. It first appeared in Walls, my post of 21st September 2014.

On another wet day, I scanned some more black and white negatives from October 1983. These covered a trip to Covent Garden, and another to Bulcote in Nottinghamshire. Since only the first set is complete, I will just feature them today. The others will follow when I have covered the rest of that collection.

Punch and Judy 10.83

While the Punch and Judy man was setting up there was not much interest shown in the top-hatted gent in the striped box. Maybe the man in the foreground was letting him know where Punch was hiding.

Punch and Judy crowd 10.83 1Punch and Judy crowd 10.83 2

Once he got going, however, the audience was engrossed. Perhaps not the woman in the foreground.

The renovation and resurgence of this popular tourist venue was in its early stages in those days. Thus all the shops, restaurants and other outlets were quite new then.

Ponti's smoker 10.83

It was also possible to sit at Ponti’s enjoying a cigarette or two.

Ponti's couple 10.83 1

Covent Garden couple 10.83 2

No. This gentleman was not alone.

Ponti's smoker 10.83 2

Really, he wasn’t.

Ponti's couple and child 1

There was just another call on his companion’s attention.

Ponti's couple and child 10.83 2

I am always careful about drawing conclusions about strangers, but I think we can safely assume that this was a close little family.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie combined her delicious beef stew with sausage casserole surplus. Potatoes, onions, and mushrooms were added, and a glorious meal was the result. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Incontrovertible Clarification

In recent days I have begun reading Neal Ascherson’s ‘Black Sea’.
Last night on BBC iPlayer Jackie and I watched John Landis’s 2010 send-up of the ‘Burke and Hare’ tragedy. I thought it perhaps questionable that such an horrific story based on two real serial killers should be thought fitting for comedy. Nevertheless I did, indeed find it funny. All credit to the director; the writers, Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft; and the cast, for achieving that. Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg play the two villains; Pegg the somewhat perplexed follower struggling with his conscience; and Serkis the devious opportunist lacking such a thing. Isla Fisher is the scheming love object, and Tom Wilkinson the crafty surgeon who turns a blind eye to the means of death of the supply of bodies he commissions. Bill Bailey fulfils the classical chorus role, and a score of other well-known faces enjoy taking part in this scurrilous romp. Mind you, not much movement is required from Christopher Lee. This was undemanding light entertainment for someone who had been working at the computer all day.
Regular readers will know I had been retrieving and scanning Covent Garden negatives from my archives. I finished that particular roll of film this morning.  In 1982, when I think I took the photographs, that now very salubrious area of London was still in the process of transformation from the fruit and vegetable market dating back to the seventeenth century into an enclave that boasts numerous outlets for dining on its former produce, as well as meat from Smithfield, fish from Billingsgate, and culinary delights from all over the world. Guitarist 9.82The redevelopment of Nine Elms in Vauxhall, to house the New Covent Garden Market, began in 1971.  Trading began there in 1974.
When we lived in Soho, the old Covent Garden was ripe for speculators who moved in steadily to change what had become a daily craft market where people sold their own work into an outlet for more manufactured goods; and to convert some of the old buildings into classy shops and restaurants. It remains a thriving area, if lacking the old world charm of the ’70s and ’80s. Bustling cafes have open-air seating, and buskers, like my guitarist, still perform to enthralled crowds, such as those I pictured in September 1982. Boy on shoulders in crowd 9.82What my former neighbour John Bussell, a radio 2 producer, would have called ‘serious music’, was also presented to rapt crowds. Musicians Covent Garden 9.82John believed ‘classical’ was a misguided term for what should more accurately be termed serious. I’m sure the more decoratively dressed guitarist would have taken his music just as seriously as those who played with the aid of sheet music.
It seems to be a time for unearthing lost treasures. Slips on stall 6.83Today’s discovery should please my granddaughter Alice, for it was the negative of the framed print she ‘snaffled’ on 2nd September last year. It featured one of the craft stalls mentioned above. Perhaps I had Smithfield Market in mind when I saw this as a visual pun and hung the enlargement on the wall of the dining room in Lindum House. In my post of the following day I recorded that I had been unable to trace the colour slide from which the print was made. That is hardly surprising, because I should have been searching for a negative. I also erroneously dated this in the mid 1970s. This morning’s discovery came with an incontrovertible clarification in the form of the previous frame on the strip.Louisa 6.83 That is a picture of Louisa, born on 24th May 1982, lolling in a large armchair. I think you can work it out for yourself.
Well into the afternoon we took a drive out to The Foresters Arms at Frogham. Incessant rain, with gathering momentum, had fallen throughout the day. Much of it lay across the lanes of the north of the forest; surrounding the trees in vast pools; and turning the heathland into a few dryish winding strips between acres of water. Noisy torrents rushed over the fords. Those few ponies in view looked bedraggled as they squelched about in search of fodder.
Ford overflowing
At Blissford we came to a standstill. Water roared over the concrete and into the swollen stream, sending a wave back up the road as it ricocheted on the teeming surface. In the distance men in an emergency van’s gondola attended to overhead wires.  There was no choice but to turn back and take a wide diversion. Customers in the pub could not believe the photos I showed them were of Blissford. Only when Michelle, the manager, pointed out the telltale farm machinery at the roadside were they convinced.
Headlights in floodwater
The return journey, in the dark, with oncoming vehicles’ blinding headlights magnified by water on our windscreen and by the waves thrown up by Jackie’s own car, and reflected in the lakes the car had to skate through, was even more nerve-wracking for my chauffeuse.
Back in the safety of our flat we dined on Jackie’s tasty and tender heart casserole, cabbage, carrots, and mashed potato and parsnip with a sprinkling of paprika.