An Evocation

After yesterday’s long trip we took it easy today.

I finished reading

The front and back of the jacket are from a painting by the author’s father, Ulric van den Bogaerde created in 1934.

In this book Dirk Bogarde returns to the years from 1927 to 1934 visited fleetingly in the first part of his autobiography ‘A Postillion Struck by Lightning’. The work really does evoke that period of a largely idyllic childhood. In his author’s note, the author, no doubt very fairly, credits Fanny Blake as ‘the most valiant of editors’ with having ‘wrestled hard and long with [his] deliberately limited vocabulary.’ It is this naive vocabulary and verbal style that is the greatest charm of this volume, conveying the very sense of the young boy who published, courtesy of the Viking branch of Penguin Books, this evocation in 1992 – so many years after the depicted events. Bogarde’s fluency and facility with description nevertheless shines through, as he expands on his early childhood.

The monochrome full page pictures among the text


retain Mr. Bogarde’s lightness of touch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika with savoury rice. I drank Séguret Cotes du Rhone Villages 2018 while Mrs Knight abstained.



Yesterday evening I finished reading ‘Backcloth’, the fourth in Dirk Bogarde’s series of memoirs. In the 1980s, when the books were first published, I managed to miss this one which, produced by Viking, appeared in 1986. My copy is Bloomsbury’s paperback issue of 2013.

The author has further developed themes introduced in the first three books; notably his teenage and his war years, the struggles of the film industry and of ageing, If anything, his poetically descriptive prose has improved, and there is more revealing honesty.

Despite disappointments in production, I recommend this work, even to a reader who may not be familiar with its antecedents. There are, however, a few minor errors in proof-reading. The reproductions of the author’s exquisite illustrations seem to have been printed on blotting paper, and the photographs ripped untimely from the developing tray. I will not attempt to improve on them here. For £14.99 Bloomsbury should have done better – or even have omitted the pictures.

Becky and Ian had stayed overnight. As it is our daughter’s birthday we had planned to spend the day at the Hawk Conservancy Trust at Weyhill, near Andover. We were to meet Matthew, Tess, and Poppy there at 10.30 a.m.

The journey was going quite well until we hit a road diversion along single lane roads with no passing spaces. We followed, of all things, a huge Highway Maintenance truck. A combination of Diversion signs and the SATNAV sent us around a very long circle. Twice. Sometimes we were not moving at all. At one point a vehicle in front stopped and, with hazard lights on

came to a complete standstill. The driver behind us approached to find out what was happening. The stationary driver needed to be helped to pass an oncoming queue.

Eventually we found a way out of the maze. Then the SATNAV battery went flat. After a while we stopped at a garden centre where we were given confused and confusing instructions. Lost again, we stopped for further directions at a pub. It was closed. Fortunately a garage provided correct information and we arrived almost two hours late.

The rest of the day was most enjoyable and completed by an excellent meal at the Hawk Inn. My choice of main course was a rib eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and salad. This was followed by Eton Mess. I drank Malbec.

I took many photographs of raptors and will feature them tomorrow. We had been without internet this morning and were back on soon after 10.30 p.m. There was neither time nor energy to deal with these this evening.

Pink Seas


Yesterday I finished reading ‘An Orderly Man’, the third volume of Dirk Bogarde’s autobiography. Incidentally, Elizabeth informs me that these first editions fetch up to £150 each on various internet sites.

This volume deals with the author’s work with various international directors and his blossoming as a writer.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline left after lunch to collect Mum from hospital and settle her in at home. Jacqueline is to stay overnight with her.

Meanwhile, Jackie and I went for a drive.


We stopped at Sandy Down to admire the splendid autumn reds and golds.

The silhouetted confetti descending from the skies was revealed to be rapidly falling leaves.

 St Andrew’s Church at Tiptoe, still ensures that we will not forget those who died fighting for our future in the First World War.

Some time ago, Jackie had stumbled upon Tutton’s Well at Sanpit whilst surfing the net for something else. She drove me there as a surprise. The tablet photograph tells the story of this historic phenomenon. It seems too much of a coincidence that a nearby village is called Purewell, but I cannot trace a connection.

We then visited Mudeford Quay and Harbour where a perching gull secured an excellent viewpoint from which to observe boisterous waves buffeting bobbing buoys.

Other gulls flanked skeins of geese honking overhead

Moody skies permitted the sun an occasional appearance.

Shortly after sundown pink seas reflected rosy clouds above.

Elizabeth arrived home soon after we did. She brought positive news about Mum’s immediate comfortable return to her familiar surroundings.

This evening we dine on Jackie’s excellent beef pie with deliciously meaty gravy; new potatoes; crisp cauliflower, carrots and tender green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.



Snakes And Ladders


Unfortunately my internet problem has not been fully resolved. Although my own laptop had been judged innocent yesterday, it devoured 10 GB of data in less than an hour this morning, when I was answering comments on my blog.

There was nothing for it, before Peacock Computers opened shop, but to finish reading ‘Snakes And Ladders’, the second volume of Dirk Bogarde’s autobiography. It’s an ill wind…..

The book is another masterpiece of the genre. The author writes beautifully, with luscious poetic description. He uses a positive plethora of apposite adjectives and adverbs; and has a superb grasp of dialogue. The title is a metaphor for life and its ups and downs. Just as the board game relies on the luck of the dice, the actor’s career was often directed by good fortune and serendipity. In this volume he takes us from the war years to what he considered the acme of his cinematic career.

The book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs. Bogarde’s drawings are restricted to the endpapers.

‘Snakes and Ladders’ is also a perfect analogy for my struggle to maintain my daily blog. I had to wait to reach Peacock Computers until after lunch. This is because first of all I needed to keep an eye test appointment at Boots in New Milton. This took some time, partly because one of the machines failed to function at first attempt. I had been seated for the site test, but for the pressure test and photographs of the orbs, I was required to stand. Unfortunately it was not possible to raise the machines to accommodate my height, so I had to rest my chin on the necessary platform with my dodgy knees bent. It was rather a good thing that both knees had begun the day in the best condition for a long time.

Alex at Peacock offered to lend me a dongle with their password, pending a visit from James for which I would not be charged. Having been driven by Jackie into Lymington for collection, I am now using that device on my iMac. I carried the errant laptop with me. Nick, who had visited yesterday, checked the machine and discovered fresh evidence enabling him to reopen the case. The device has been refused bail and remains in custody.

Jackie is about to serve up spare ribs with the rest of yesterday’s Chinese Take Away meal. She will drink Hoegaarden and I will drink Cahors Malbec 2016. Elizabeth will wait until later. Normally I post after the meal, but I am afraid of being sent down a ladder all the way to the bottom.

Autumn Reflection


‘A delightful 15th-century pub that simply oozing charm and atmosphere situated in the heart of the Sussex countryside directly on the Wealden Way, one of the most beautiful walks in East Sussex. The Gun has an extensive landscaped garden with wooden climbing frames and swings, ideal for children. Famous for its home-made traditional pies, seasonal game, and continental specialities, complemented by well-kept beers from the barrel as well as a fine selection of wines. All the food is seasonal, cooked fresh and uses local suppliers wherever possible.’

This was where Jackie and I joined Becky and Ian; Mat, Poppy, and Tess for her birthday celebration meal yesterday evening. The establishment lived up to its billing. I enjoyed a rib-eye steak, chips, mushrooms and tomato and rocket salad followed by creme brûlée. I drank champagne and Rioja, and did my best to stay awake as Jackie drove us home.

This is how Dirk Bogarde’s drawing completed his ‘A Postillion struck by Lightning’ featured yesterday, and which I finished reading this morning.

Home owners in France must pay two separate taxes; one for residence, and another for land. Despite my having completed the sale of the house in Aquitaine on 31st March, it seems I must pay the annual land tax from 1st January this year. The sum is in euros and all correspondence in French. I closed my French bank account after the sale. This afternoon Jackie drove me to my English bank in Lymington where I attempted to transfer the payment. The relevant ISBN and Swift/Bic code had not been included on the bill. I will now have to ask for them before I can settle the account.

After this abortive visit we took a short trip into the forest.

Alongside Hatchet Lane, East Boldre, a string of ponies reflected the turning autumn leaves overhead.

Our recent heatwave has burnt most of the bracken on the open moors, but those sheltered from the strong sun on the edges of the woods, like these on the Brockenhurst to Beaulieu road, retain a golden glow, even on such a dull day.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne with savoury rice. Elizabeth and I both drank Cono Sur Biciclete reserva Pinot Noir 2017. Mrs Knight had drunk her Hoegaarden while cooking.

A Postillion Struck By Lightning


Yesterday evening Shelly produced a splendid roast beef dinner, complete with Yorkshire pudding and perfectly cooked roast potatoes and parsnips, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and swede; followed by fruity Queen of Puddings. Red and white wine, and Hoegaarden was quaffed.

After making more headway today I have only a few more pages of Dirk Bogarde’s first volume of autobiography to finish reading. Shame on me for keeping this excellent book on my shelves for 40 years before opening it. My eyes have been opened to the many talents of the man I remembered as a film star of my earlier years. Bogarde’s writing is poetic, sensitive, humorous when need be, and apparently most honest. The more than competent pen and ink illustrations among the most readable text, and the jacket cover are by his hand. If you would like to know the reason for the title you must read the book.

Sir Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde (28 March 1921 – 8 May 1999), known professionally as Dirk Bogarde, was an English actor and writer. Initially a matinée idol in films such as Doctor in the House (1954) for the Rank Organisation, he later acted in art-house films. In a second career, he wrote seven best-selling volumes of memoirs, six novels and a volume of collected journalism, mainly from articles in The Daily Telegraph.

Bogarde came to prominence in films including The Blue Lamp in the early 1950s, before starring in the successful Doctor film series (1954–63). He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role; for The Servant (1963) and Darling (1965). His other notable film roles included Victim (1961), Accident (1967), The Damned(1969), Death in Venice (1971), The Night Porter (1974), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Despair (1978). He was appointed a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1990 and a Knight Bachelor in 1992. (Wikipedia)

As soon as I have devoured the rest of this work I will open the next one.

Before leaving for East Sussex for a birthday meal for Tess at The Gun in Heathfield I printed a picture of Poppy at Mr & Mrs Steele’s wedding as a card for her mother.

Once more we will be late enough home for me to have to defer commenting on the event until tomorrow.