Doctor Who

When I began this daily blog in May last year, it was possible to provide an individual header picture for each post.  Following my acquisition of a digital camera that June, I have illustrated posts ever since.  Some time later, WordPress made amendments to the presentation of articles.  I was unable to use the new system to introduce a different header each day.  It may be my lack of proficiency, but I managed to lose all my individual feature pictures and abandoned the idea of one general series header. I thought I had permanently deleted those I had used .  Recently I have discovered I hadn’t, and have been able to reintroduce them, not as headers, but in an appropriate place within the text.  I spent the morning taking this process up to mid-August 2012.

The Doctor (3)Showing a great deal more respect than those of you who know who you are, my old friend Geoff Austin, still under the illusion that I resemble Jon Pertwee, had the good grace in an e-mail to point out that, as I was never as scruffy as Worzel, the role of the third Doctor Who would be a much more appropriate comparison.  Maybe, back in the 1980s when awestruck children gaped in my direction and exclaimed: ‘There’s Doctor Who’, it was Jon Pertwee and not Tom Baker they were thinking of.

Leaves on Rolls bonnetLeaves on ModusIt had been a pretty uninviting morning, strong winds having buffeted the trees, and grey clouds having produced hailstones to hammer them and our windows. This afternoon sparkled by comparison.  Leaves adhering to the Nattier bonnet of Ari’s resplendent Rolls Royce, somehow managing to look more delicately decorative than those on that of Jackie’s more mundane Modus, which seemed rather like an unpleasant rash.

Thus bedecked, at the wheel, wandering at will, Jackie drove us up Roger Penny Way and meandered through pretty villages, now in Hampshire, now in Wiltshire. Bramshaw, Langford, Hale, Woodgreen,  Downton, Redlynch, Nomansland are a few of the names I can remember.  It would have been possible to add another portfolio of stunning autumn colour to this post. Backlit ponySheep on hill I refrained, but thought a pony in Shave Wood and sheep on a hill in Bramshaw worth getting out of the car for.

Harissa was an unusual, but effective ingredient in Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi this evening.  Served with savoury rice including an unknown powder, part of a Christmas present, that was probably garam masala, this was as delightful as ever.  Spicy pumpkin pie and cream was the perfect sweet.  Finishing the rioja with this, I knocked over my last glassful, which was a shame.

Goose Fat

Derrick and Jon PertweeI awoke to a most unsympathetic witticism from my beloved daughter Becky.  She has, for some years now, inexplicably been obsessed with what she sees as a likeness between me and Jon Pertwee’s portrayal of Worzel Gummidge.  I can’t see it myself. Never missing an opportunity to offer this public humiliation, she appended a quartet of mug shots to the Facebook link of yesterday’s post.  And Danni just had to join in.  I must have erred in the respect and discipline department.

Undeterred, the inhalation treatment continued today.Vick's Vapour Rub  The source of the eucalyptus ingredient is Vick’s Vapour Rub.  Apart from melting this waxy substance in a bowl of hot water and holding the victim’s face firmly in place under a towel and over it, Vick’s can be rubbed on chests to relieve all manner of respiratory complaints.  Whilst undergoing the torture, to which I might add one could become addicted, this morning I allowed my mind to wander over this and other similar remedies.  Well, it gets boring otherwise.

A traditional preventive or curative application certainly still in use in the nineteenth century in England was goose fat.  In those days ailments like TB which are rare or largely eradicated today, were dreaded.  Even ordinary chest infections were likely to prove fatal.  Goose fat was the poor person’s vapour rub.  This product of the extremely oily farmyard fowl was in plentiful supply as there was always a huge amount drained off when one was roasted.

Generations of no doubt progressively rancid children lived, from November to May, sewn into cotton vests inside which were sheets of brown paper covering layers of the goose grease smeared onto scrawny pectorals.  Pondering this, under my towelling turban, I asked Jackie to remind me about her old friend Mrs. Hooper.  A nonagenarian when Jackie knew her, this woman would have been about 140 were she alive today.  As a little girl she had been subjected to the preventative casing, and loved to describe it and many other aspects of a bygone childhood.  Without this testimony one might imagine some exaggeration in the tale.Forest bracken

Forest road

Leaves and brackenIt had been 13th October last year, and therefore a little early for autumn colour, when I first walked the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.  This afternoon Jackie drove us to Bolderwood from where we leapfrogged along the drive.  This took the form of Jackie driving us a bit; stopping and letting me out; me walking on a little more; her catching me up after an agreed time; IAutumn treesForestTree archBracken and treesAutumn leavesBeech treesSunlit tree trunksBeech leavesme riding until the next likely photoshoot possibility;Tall treesBeech leaves carpet then repeating the process.

After this we needed petrol.  There aren’t too many petrol stations in the vicinity, but travelling to Bashley for fuel seemed a little bit out of our way, until Jackie pointed out that Milford on Sea wasn’t far away.  So we just had to have a look at the coastline and The Needles opposite.  On the beach beneath the cliff stands a row of beach huts I hadn’t noticed before. Beach hutsBeach huts and The Needles Looking down on them I remembered photographing the hang gliding further along the coast at Barton when in July I had been so engrossed I almost walked off the edge.

This evening pumpkin pie followed chilli con carne with a mix of wild and perfectly calm savoury basmati rice.  Feeling the positive effects of my various treatments I was able to drink a couple of glasses of Marques de Montino rioja reserva 2008.

London Smog

Misty forest 1.13

Mist beset the forest today as I walked the ford loop.

On the gravelled area outside a bungalow in Minstead a car was parked and the boot opened.  A small black and white spaniel, tail flat on the ground into which she was trying to vanish as she looked backwards – for all the world like Fred Basset having swiped the sausages – scuttled out of the gloom.  She was closely followed by a shriek of panic, as a tall thin figure, arms and fingers outstretched, rushed around the car, urgently crossed the road, gesticulating wildly, and tried to grasp the dog’s collar.  This, I thought momentarily, must be Worzell Gummidge.

Fred Basset is an eponymous cartoon character, created by Alex Graham, which first appeared in the Daily Mail in 1963 and has since been syndicated around the world.  Fred’s emotions are portrayed in both facial and bodily expressions.  Worzel Gummidge is a walking, talking, scarecrow popularised in  television series of the 1980s and 2021, based on the books by Barbara Euphan Todd. Jessica's spiderman, 12.11 For some reason Becky thinks that, after having been subjected to Jessica’s face-painting a couple of years ago, I looked like Jon Pertwee in the role.

‘She’s in season’, cried the scarecrow.  ‘Oh, I see’, said I, as Worzell’s fingers tried to grasp the wriggling spaniel’s scruff.  With one last grab the dog was collared.  ‘I’m looking after her for someone’, the foster parent continued.  ‘So, I’d hate to lose her’.  I silently reflected that I hadn’t imagined that was the worst that could have befallen the bitch.

Sheep's wool 1.13I imagine the dirty-grey sheep were on their hillside as I passed, but the only sign of them I saw was shreds of fleece clinging to thorns and barbed wire. Misty field 1.13 Their static tumbleweed bodies would have been shrouded in the mist.

Near visibility for pedestrians was, today, unproblematic.  Quite different from London in the 1950s, the worst decade of smog.  This is a term coined by compacting elided versions of ‘smoke’ and ‘fog’.  One nickname for London is ‘The Smoke.  The capital in those days was frequently visited by fog exacerbated by smoke from the burning of coal.  It had been a problem in industrial towns since the previous century.  The return home from school in December 1952 was expected to be in the dark.  Normally, when we got off the trolleybus (see post of 17th May) at Arterberry Road, even at night time, we could see the pillarbox at the corner of Stanton Road in which we lived, and the street lamps rendered the crossing as bright as daylight.  Not so, soon after 4 p.m., when the great smog hit ‘The Great Wen’, another name for London.  Imagine a gas lamp in a Victorian alleyway, glowing a dull, weak, egg-yolk hue, its halo vanishing into the darkness, and offering no practical illumination.  This is what the street lamps of Wimbledon, and the headlights of passing cars looked like for a week of winter evenings.  They had no impact on the pea souper that penetrated our lungs and our living rooms.  Alighting from our bus, Dad having come to meet us, we felt our way along fences to the corner of Arterberry, peered into the depths of Worple Road, and hoped the lack of feeble car lights would persist until we tripped over the kerb and into Stanton Road on the other side.  We then had to progress down to the dog-leg around which, over the road, lay our home.  Readers will know from my post of 16th October that there were very few cars on these roads at that time.  Those that did emerge, crawled along, their drivers blinking into the gloom.  I really don’t know how the bus drivers managed.

I do not exaggerate these conditions.  I see the all-enveloping obscurity blanket still.  In 1956 the Clean Air Act, which introduced smokeless zones, came into effect.  It was a direct result of the virtual blackout of December 1952.

This evening, accompanying my Roc des Chevaliers 2010 Bordeaux Superieur and Jackie’s common or garden Hoegaarden, we dined on her Spaghetti Con Carne Arrabbiata With Mushrooms.  We do not believe the TV chefs are onto this yet, so, for those of you who wish to impress your friends with your culinary expertise, I have permission to reveal the secrets of this marvellous meal.  As a basis you take left-over chilli con carne from the freezer.  This should originally have been produced from a Coleman’s mix with the necessary additions of supplementary chillis, onions, cumin and coriander.  Cook this up with Sainsbury’s extra lean minced beef and a further  two chopped chillis; two very large onions; two cloves of garlic; sun-dried tomatoes; and mushrooms, in beef stock.  Lay it all on a bed of Waitrose, or, in truth, anyone else’s, spaghetti, and I guarantee you will be the talk of the neighbourhood, especially if it is followed by Aldi’s Christmas pudding.