A Metaphor

This morning I finished reading the final book of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. I have to say that these last works are not, on the whole, as enjoyable as the earlier ones. The writer seems to philosophise rather too much for this particular genre and to overwork the language. He seeks alliteration to the extent that the flow of the prose is disturbed. Exceptions are the last two tales, ‘An Insoluble Problem’, and ‘The Vampire of the Village’.

Apple tree

Untended fruit trees tend to send stems vertically skyward. So it was with the one tree we left in the cleared kitchen garden. We did, however, prune it heavily. Although much smaller, it now has a reasonable shape, and enough blossom to suggest there will be more than the meagre three apples we enjoyed last autumn.Apple blossom 1Apple blossom 2

Perceptive readers of ‘Becky’s Book’, knowing what came later, will realise that the apple tree in that story was a metaphor for the home I lost in Amity Grove. The current one symbolises a celebration of reunion.

This afternoon I worked in a similar manner to yesterday on a batch of colour slides I made of Jackie in November 1972. Here I present just two of them:Jackie 11.72 003 - Version 3Jackie 11.72008 - Version 3By this time I was no longer living in the family home, but visited at weekends to collect the children, and hopefully spend some time with their mother.

There are far too many classic books I have never got round to reading. One of these is Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’. I have owned my Folio Society edition since its publication in 1996. Early this evening I read its unusual Introduction, by the writer Albert French. The original approach of this piece comes from its being an autobiographical sketch by a Black American teenage Marine on his way to serve in Vietnam. He knows what the book is about.

The proprietor of Hordle Chinese Take Away, who provided this evening’s dinner, has been dubbed ‘Mr Chatty Man’ by Jackie, because he is. Tonight she chose the set meal for two. We had such generous portions of rice, containing goodies such as prawns; sweet and sour chicken balls; chicken in black bean sauce; beef in ginger and spring onions; and amply filled pancake rolls, that we held some back for tomorrow’s lunch. My hefty pancake roll caused me some difficulty, and Jackie a certain amount of horrified amusement.

Have you ever tried to eat a large filled pancake with chopsticks?

We normally pick up that particular item of food with our fingers. Mine was too hot. First I tried to grasp it with the sticks. The roll slid off, and the chopsticks snapped shut. I tried spearing it with no more success. I resorted to repeated stabbing it and gripping the spilled innards with the implements. This wasn’t much more successful. I was relieved when it had cooled down enough for me to use my fingers. Mind you, it was falling to bits by then. So I returned to the chopsticks. With the meal I drank some of the Les Cornalines Chateuneuf du Pape 2013, which had been given to us by Anne on her visit a couple of days ago.


Colour Slides From The Sixties

Despite the fact that dizziness, especially when coughing, is still a difficulty, I feel a great deal better today.

Mark Williams The LinkNever before have I been so acquainted with daytime television. Sometimes, when Jackie is watching TV, I am doing something else in my chair in the corner of the long sitting room, where the screen is not in view, and I quite like listening to it. Today, I joined her on the sofa. ‘The Link’ is a quiz game that I have often heard, but never seen the quizmaster, whose accent always puzzled me because I couldn’t place it, other than vaguely in the West Midlands.Father-Brown-Season-2

Imagine my surprise when I realised that the programme host was Mark Williams who plays Father Brown which we had just watched. This narrowed down the accent, for Williams was born in Bromsgrove in Worcestershire.

This afternoon I rescanned a few more colour slides from the 1960s. After Vivien’s death in September 1965, Michael and I had spent that Christmas with my family in 18 Bernard Gardens, to which we had moved on the night she died. After Christmas, as I did every weekend for six months, I took our son to visit his maternal grandparents in Sidcup. This was a complicated journey on public transport from Wimbledon, with the pushchair and all the other paraphernalia required for a small child.Michael and swans 12.65

That particular December the weather was freezing and he had to be wrapped up well to see the magic of swans walking on ice.

The following Christmas I gave my mother a calendar, each month of which was illustrated by a suitable photograph. This was the one chosen for December. Now, of course, this is not particularly unusual, because there are number of computer applications, none of which I know how to use, which will help do the job. Both Louisa and Sam have produced such welcome presents. What I did in 1967 was to have a processing shop make the 7” x 5” prints, which I stuck to hand drawn pages for each month.Michael 3.66

By March 1966, now almost two, Michael was well able to manage his own ice-cream. I have no idea why he needed the plaster on his chin, but I don’t expect it was anything too serious.

The following month I met Jackie and took a series of photographs of her on Wimbledon Common, a couple of which have been posted before.Jackie 4.66 3

This is one more.

Jackie and Michael 7.66 2

By July, she and Michael were beginning to bond. I liked the soft natural colours produced by the Fujifilm of the time.

Shopping and cooking have not been happening for some days, but, especially as my appetite is returning, it is fortunate that our fridge and freezer are reasonably well stocked. Salad from the former adorned a meaty pizza for our evening meal.

Father Brown

I’m not feeling any better today. This is a little frustrating because yesterday I had been able to think, which hadn’t been possible the day before, so I hoped to be running around again by now. I always was an optimist. Crystal, another blogger, had commented on how difficult it is to be patient with illness. I imagine that is what she meant.

Jackie, however, improves by the day.

From the amount of coughing I have been engaged in, my stomach now feels as if I have done a few hundred sit-ups. This is not so fanciful when you consider that in my thirties I had a period of performing more than three hundred every morning, until I decided that eleven minutes was a bit too long and boring to spend on this rather excessive exercise.

My Folio Society edition of G.K.Chesterton’s Father Brown Stories consists of two volumes, each comprising two of  the four books. Yesterday evening I finished the first book, called ‘The Innocence of Father Brown’, and containing a dozen superbly crafted short stories, in elegant, flowing, prose. The fact that the eponymous amateur sleuth is a Roman Catholic priest is really incidental. He is an entertaining little character.

Colin Dexter, the author of the Inspector Morse series of novels, has written an interesting and knowledgeable introduction, and Val Biro’s skillful illustrations enhance the 1996 publication.Father Brown cover

Unfortunately my book now has some minor water staining on its front cover. I must have unwittingly spilt some from my bedside glass in the dark when I was rather dopey.

I have mentioned before that I was encouraged to read these books by watching the TV series. This is described as based on Chesterton’s characters. The only story I have now both read and watched, ‘The Invisible Man’, has developed some of the characters and radically changed the tale. Perhaps that is the only way the author’s little gems can be transferred to an hour long dramatic production.Father Brown illustration

The text illustration I have chosen to insert here is one to ‘The Invisible Man’. I won’t say how, but it ably demonstrates the point I make above.

This evening, for the first time for some days, Jackie felt able to drive out for a Chinese Takeaway meal, and I thought I could manage to sample some of it. In the event I couldn’t eat much, but there is always tomorrow.


Sun And Wind

Jackie provided her usual chauffeur service to and from New Milton for my London trip.

Knees in train

The four coach train was as packed as usual. One gentleman kindly removed his luggage from one of the few available seats so that I could sit down. The gentleman opposite me was fast asleep. His baggage lay between his feet which stretched under the window seat. Settling one buttock on that and another on the centre one I fitted my legs around the somnolent passenger as demonstrated in the photograph. He woke with a start at Brockenhurst and asked where he was. When told, he relaxed, but didn’t change his position. This group disembarked at Southampton Airport. They were replaced by others, but the newcomers had to fit round me, which was preferable.

It was a dull, blustery, noon as I approached the Archduke to meet Norman for lunch. Somehow or other, my great friend Wolf had managed to reach the railway bridge between the arches from with the restaurant presumably derived its name to provide the appropriate embellishment.

Graffiti and Archduke

Maybe he used the crane.

lampsMy choice for lunch was the sea trout. Norman chose belly of pork, and we both opted for the pecan pie for dessert. We shared a bottle of Sicilian shiraz.

By the time I emerged from the restaurant to be blown along South Bank and across Westminster Bridge to visit Carol, the temperature had dropped to finger-tingling levels, but the sun had now come out, silhouetting the Houses of Parliament, peeking through crevices in the decorative architecture; outlining the faces of photographers’  subjects; providing side lighting for Gothic greatcoats and the supports of the bridge; setting young girls’ hair alight; and lending a translucence to the glass cases of ornamental lamps.

Houses of Parliament in silhouetteSun through Houses of ParliamentGothic greatcoatsYoung lady photographingSunlit hair

Jackie and I have recently begun the watch the Father Brown series on television. This is based on G.K.Chesterton’s classic stories of a sleuthing Roman Catholic priest, and has led me to begin reading them. I got through a few on the train today.