A Tradition Maintained

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This afternoon we were visited by Helen, Bill, Shelly, Ron, David, Jenny, Rachel, Gareth, Anthony, Jane, Neil and Donna, for the annual Boxing Day party.

Everyone gathered by about 3 p.m. and swapped all their latest news with the usual amount of fun and laughter. Guests could help themselves to cold meats, salads, and cheeses from the kitchen table.

Ian distributed drinks,

then turned to his role as quiz master.

There was keen competition between the two teams into which we were divided. Ian had spent considerable time on compiling a quiz of the year divided into months. A final round included 22 excerpts from Christmas songs which we were required to identify. The team I was included in was most fortunate in having Donna as a member. Almost single-handedly she clinched victory with her encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music. Each team had a scribe who would write down the answers. The debates to determine the answers became quite animated.

There were still some Christmas presents to be distributed.

Some tender moments were experienced.

Finally, Jackie’s delicious cooked meals became available for people to help themselves. The sitting room was cleared in seconds, until guests returned with laden plates. There was plentiful lamb jalfrezi, rice, onion bahjis, and samosas; and beef in red wine with mashed potatoes.

 

I Found The Lady

Jackie drove me to New Milton to catch the London train this morning. Although I arrived about 25 minutes early, it was touch and go whether I boarded the conveyance in possession of a ticket.
There was a traffic diversion in the town because it was market day. This delayed us a little. The ticket office was unmanned for twenty minutes. Quite a queue built up. I bought my ticket after the train had pulled into the station and leaped through the closing doors clutching wallet, tickets, railcard and change as well as my bag. A woman struggling with a wheeled container that wouldn’t fit the narrow aisles somewhat delayed my passage to a seat.
But, no matter, it was a warm and sunny day.
No matter, that is, until it was revealed that the other train that should have been attached to our four coach one at Southampton Central was not ready. We continued with our limited number of carriages. It became rather crowded, and rather warmer.
From Waterloo I travelled by the normal route to Norman’s new abode, and back.
FootpathIt was quite clear that the concreted strip traversing the John Billam sports ground off Preston Road was a footpath.
There is a notorious scam or confidence trick I once saw performed in Central London. It remains amazing to me that this game still draws in punters, usually in crowded city streets, who believe they can outwit the shyster with his sleight of hand. He will stand by the side of the thoroughfare with playing cards in his hands, using some light, portable platform and encourage passers-by to ‘Find the Lady’. The lady in question is a queen, often of diamonds. Victims are enjoined to pick her out from between two aces. They will already have seen a stooge managing to pull this off and consider themselves capable of doing the same. They part with their stake money, and lose it. Sometimes time and again. Besides the trickster and his accomplice, the team is supplemented by others, strategically placed at convenient corners keeping an eye out for the police. When the law arrives a signal is given, the platform is lifted, and the players disperse.
Queen of diamondsNot believing I could discover the secret, I kept my money in my pocket on that occasion. However, today, there on the sports field, many years later, I found the lady.
Norman provided a lunch of succulent roast chicken, splendid savoury rice, runner beans, and piquant red cabbage, followed by apple strudel and cream. We shared an excellent 2011 bottle of unpronounceable Greek wine.
When we moved into our new house we stored a number of boxes of our most fragile or precious glassware and crockery in Helen and Bill’s garden shed. Jackie collected it today and I helped her unpack them after she collected me from the station and brought me home.Victoria's Park
I have had little time for reading in the last month, but on the train made decent headway into Desmond Seward’s ‘The Wars of The Roses’. When I have finished it I will begin a welcome present that was awaiting me this evening. Barrie Haynes has sent me a copy of one of his novels, ‘Victoria’s Park’, as a gift for my ‘splendid new library’. He tells me he ‘painted the cover picture using household paint, a plastic knife and half a pasting table’.

Finally, here is another aquilegia from the garden, and two of the myriad varieties of cranesbill geraniums:AquilegiasGeranium 1Geranium 2