A Knight’s Tale (80: Samson’s Welcome)

We have seen, in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/12/05/a-knights-tale-74-if-you-know-this-dog-please-return-him-to-his-owner/ that Piper was a Soho stray. We acquired a cat in a similar way. After two days and nights of a black kitten crying on our doorstep we had allowed him inside and accepted him as a member of the family. He was named Soho.

When, in March 1980, we moved from Horse and Dolphin Yard to Gracedale Road, London, SW16, our feline friend jumped into the van, and refused to budge.

This photograph of Jessica was taken shortly before Sam’s birth, in University College Hospital in Euston Road, on 19th.

Sam 21.6.80

Here is the new arrival at two days old. He must have had decent fingernails, hence the protective mittens.

Cradled by his Mum he slept peacefully,

Jessica and Sam 21.6.80 6

then shared his first joke with her,

Matthew and Sam 21.6.80 2

and was introduced into the eager arms of Matthew

Becky and Sam 21.6.80 1

and Becky.

Gracedale Road was to be our home until 1987.

A Knight’s Tale (71: Chinese Boxes)

From our sitting room we could peer through two windows into a kitchen that appeared also to contain bunk beds.

I photographed the scene in November 1976. Chopping of food took place all through the night.  This somewhat interfered with sleep.  In the early hours of one morning Jessica lost patience and rather politely called out asking the choppers to desist.  The reply was: ‘We’ve been here fifty years.  If you don’t like it, move.’ We did so in 1980, but before then,

this was our sitting room. I still have the rocking chair which was a favourite seat. The brown velvet trousers mentioned in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/07/a-knights-tale-60-i-come-a-cropper/, much patched, are now long gone.

Michael’s use of Chinese boxes is featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/17/a-knights-tale-66-horse-and-dolphin-yard/

I used them as bookshelves. My collection was moved to our next home in Gracedale Road, SW16.

Here Jessica, Louisa, and Sam are seen in front of them in 1984. When our son was about the age that Louisa is here, my Dad, concerned about having witnessed the toddler’s one attempt to scale the stacks, arrived with a drill and a set of screws with which he fixed the rather higgledy piggledy shelves to the wall. We learned later that our purchaser, when he sold the house some years afterwards, claimed to have constructed my library repository himself, and turned it into a selling point.

Boat Maintenance


This morning I printed some pictures for Christmas presents, which it would be premature to publish here.

This afternoon I scanned another batch of colour negatives from early 1986.

Matthew, Sam & Louisa 1.86

During that prolonged winter, Sam’s and Louisa’s expressions show quite clearly how cold it was when Matthew, dubbed by Louisa ‘the best big brother ever’, took them out for a buggy ride from Gracedale Road.

Matthew reading to Sam & Louisa

It was clearly much more cosy when he read them a story.

Sam and Louisa (bouncing) 1986

At 10.19 one morning Louisa bounced up and down, possibly trying to dislodge her mother and brother from bed. Sam was not impressed. The bedside lamp was made from a stone hot water bottle gained from our ‘Mudlarking’ days.

That year snow lay on the ground for the first three months. It would have been after that when Jessica, Sam, and I spent a week in Mary Dewsberry’s holiday home in Haslemere. The evidence for this is the farm track up which we walked on a recce. Last year’s bracken and autumn leaves lingered in the country terrain.

Jessica, Sam and Louisa feeding ponies 1986

This may have been the occasion when we discovered that the two children both had allergies to horses, the touch of which caused their eyes to swell up alarmingly.

Under the cloak of a little coppice, Louisa made a diving effort to reenter her mother’s womb. Sam insisted that there was room for two.

Mary’s son, Nick, and his children Jack and Dora, welcomed Sam and Louisa into their boat maintenance crew. Louisa made a quick recovery after her early tip-up, and everyone set to with gusto.

This evening, Jackie produced succulent roast duck, suitably reduced spinach, boiled potatoes, and crunchy carrots and cauliflower. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Western Cape Fair Trade shiraz 2015.