Raindrops on tomatoesRaindrops on roseThe garden still freshly dripped this morning after a night’s deluge of rain. I was reminded of ‘A few of [Julie Andrews’s] favourite things’, from ‘The Sound of Music’.
GreengagesAfter a wander round the estate, Jackie drove me to New Milton for me to catch the London train. I visited the money bank first, but was still rather early for the train and sat outside the station for a while. Plum-like fruit had dropped from their branches and tumbled down a grassy bank opposite, into the wet gutter. Because I didn’t know what they were, especially as they were a yellow/orange colour, I asked a passing woman who seemed vaguely familiar. She identified them as greengages and walked on into the ticket office. Soon afterwards she, having had the same sense of partial recognition, returned, having realised I was Chris’s brother.
Annie, which is her name, was at school with my sister in law Frances and a joint friend of theirs called Stephanie. Chris, Frances, Stephanie and her husband,John, had once shared a holiday with Jackie and me in Sigoules. We had first met at my niece Fiona’s wedding to Paul in August 2007, at which I had, fortunately for this post’s illustrations, taken the photographs. Jackie and I had both then met them at Chris and Frances’s Ruby Wedding celebration.

Here is Fiona on her big day:Fiona wedding 8.07 005


She and Paul here stand with their respective mothers, Frances, of course, next to her daughter:Fiona and Paul with their Mums Fiona & Paul wedding 8.07 010

Finally, Stephanie and Annie, on the right, arrive in the garden:Stephanie & Annie Fiona & Paul wedding 8.07 048

Otherwise, my journey was uneventful until I arrived at Waterloo. At the Gents on the station the change machine let fall into the tray 3 x 20p in exchange for my 50p piece. Either because the dispenser didn’t appear to have any 10p coins or because the barriers themselves were faulty they were left open and we were all invited to walk through at no charge. Soon afterwards, I picked up £5 on the concourse. Normally, in order to use the conveniences, one is relieved of 30 pee. Instead of this, I emerged from the terminal station £5.10p better off. I’d call that a result.

I took my usual route to Norman’s where he fed us on roast pork, roasted vegetables, croquette potatoes, and broad beans, followed by mixed fruit latticed tart. We shared a fine bottle of Douro.

After this, I travelled by my customary method to Carol’s, and from there back to New Milton where Jackie was waiting and drove me home.

Kenneth Clark learned his trade as an art historian long before the subject was taught in British universities like Nottingham, where my granddaughter Emily is currently studying. Clark was an extremely accomplished member of the profession, as is amply evidenced by ‘The Nude’, which I finished reading on the train. He has a sensitive and insightful approach to his material which covers drawings, paintings, and sculpture from antiquity to the early twentieth century. First published in 1956, before the advent of the internet, his encyclopaedic knowledge is impressive, and eloquently and entertainingly expressed. My Folio Society edition, the beautiful cover of which is featured in my post of 24th July, is lavishly illustrated.

One For Rebekah

Christmas Card 001The greetings card project has taken me back to the late 1950s, when Mum trekked around valiantly selling my adolescent Christmas card production so that I could cover the cost of their commercial printing.  As far as I remember we didn’t lose any money.  We certainly couldn’t have afforded to.  Although I have produced amateur handmade postcards of my photographs in the years since, I have never again attempted to sell any.

In the 1950s the method was pretty archaic by today’s standards.  I drew the artwork, took it to a block maker who produced a metal block, and to a printer who printed up the cards. Christmas Card 002 The three kings scene was done when I was fifteen; the shepherds the following year; and finally the madonna and child in 1959.  By Christmas 1960 I was in employment and could afford to buy cards.

The first and third of these pieces were done on scraper board.  The second on a fashion plate board.  No-one else was required to reproduce them today.  I still have the originals which I scanned into my computer; cleaned off the debris of the years in iPhoto;  and uploaded into WordPress.Christmas Card 003  Magic.

I no longer have the blocks because, when working as a Child Care Officer in the 1960s, I gave them to the printing department of an approved school out in Surrey somewhere.  I can’t remember the name of it, and in any case that type of facility for juvenile offenders was phased out many years ago.  I hope the lads enjoyed practising with them.

Becky has very much appreciated the recently published old photographs of family members she never knew.  So, Beck, this one’s for you.

Norwood school, featuring Grandma & Grandpa Knight & Aunt Evelyn, c.1913tif copy

The Norwood School for the Sons of Gentlemen was a family run business of the Knights for several generations, although not always in West Norwood.  Male members ran the school, whilst the women became governesses where they served all over Europe.

Central to the photograph, probably taken in 1913, are my paternal grandparents Beatrice and Jack (John Francis Cecil) Knight.  Jack, after 1914 was never to work in the school again.  Returning from the First World War he no longer had the heart to work inside or in education, and bought a removal firm.

The woman on the far left we knew in later years as Auntie Evelyn.  It was her sister, Mabel, who bequeathed our father 18 Bernard Gardens which features in my post of 17th July last year (click here).  When the family moved into this large house in Wimbledon, among Mabel’s effects were all the gramophone   records of Julie Andrews.  Mabel had no record player, but had clearly taken pride in her former charge.

Evelyn, Mabel, and another sister, Ethel, governesses to the aristocracy during the twentieth century, between them, lived through all the major upheavals of that period.  In 1917 Ethel and Mabel fled the Russian Revolution; Evelyn was in Ireland during the crisis of 1926; and Mabel observed the Spanish Civil War at close hand ten years later.  We look forward to Chris’s publication of these biographies.

Sam 3.04

Becky has noticed the family likenesses that are evidenced in the old photos. Grandpa Knight 1917 Sam, relaxing in a Barbados Bar in 2004, having just got himself into the Guinness Book Of Records after 59 days rowing solo across the Atlantic, we think bears a striking resemblance to his paternal great-grandfather photographed in 1917, the year my father was born into a world where life was so very different from today.  Sam had the freedom to be energetically animated. Grandpa Knight Grandpa had a great deal weighing him down, not just, I think, keeping still for the studio photographer.  He was no more a natural soldier than was my Dad, who, a generation later was thrust into a similar conflict.

This evening Jackie produced a deliciously hot chilli con carne with wild rice, complemented for me by the last of the Cahors, and for her by a small bottle of Blue Moon.


The next morning, following Becky’s observation, I added the blown up section of the school group photo.  I had spent hours searching through and scanning slides to find one of Sam that showed the likeness to the army portrait, when I had in front of me one of Grandpa that would have made the job so much easier.  Whilst still looking pretty staid, in this one my forebear looks rather less gaunt than the one taken four years later after three years of war.