The Swinging Sixties

This morning I began reading Jacques Suffel’s preface to Gustave Flaubert’s timeless novel ‘Madame Bovary’. This introduction seems to be doing a good job of putting the work into historical and social context. Hopefully, having read an English translation should help me with this original version.

This was another day of steady rain, so I decided to scan some ‘posterity’ pictures. Just one colour slide took approximately three hours. When I turned on my iMac a big grey box with a large X in the middle of it on the screen prompted me to download what I soon realised – or at least hoped – was a new operating system called, of all things ‘Mavericks’. Being an American organisation I suspect Apple were thinking of unbranded calves rather than independent-minded persons. They must have run out of wildcats which is what all the previous systems’ names were.

I was informed that the download would take 51 minutes. Fortunately much of this time was taken up by a welcome phone call from Sam in Perth. I will leave him to update friends and family with his own news.

The system was downloaded successfully. This involved a change of the previous galaxy photograph as wallpaper to what could loosely be described as sweeping waves. I suppose I’ll become accustomed to it.

I was now able to start on my scanning. Not. A box told me my Epson Perfection V750 PRO had quit unexpectedly and prompted me to try again. And again. And again. Probably ad infinitum if I hadn’t decided to call a halt and ring Apple Care

Naturally I was answered by a machine operated by my voice. She and I had some difficulty. Maybe it was the questions delivered in a broad Scots accent. Yes, an American system with the diction of those living north of the English border.  Perhaps my London speech was the problem. We got there in the end and I was at last in a very short queue to speak to a real live person. Whilst waiting I had the pleasure of listening to Johnny Cash singing ‘Ring of Fire’ – by far my favourite ever bit of holding music. After Johnny came something weird. But, as I said, it wasn’t a long wait.

Carolyn, another Celt, was a very helpful adviser. We established, as I thought, that Mavericks was the problem. It didn’t know I had a scanner that its predecessor had been quite happy with. In fact it stated that I didn’t have one, which I thought rather presumptuous of it. My helper sent me an e-mail with details of a link via Apple to Epson’s web pages. I tried it. Epson didn’t seem to know about my new Mavericks. I fiddled around in their system for a while then returned to Apple Care.

Carolyn had left clear information and James was able to pick up the story. I think he knew a bit more about Epson and sent me another link direct to that company. I needed, apparently, to download new software – the type that can recognise independent minded people. It was done successfully, although it took some time.

James clarified a puzzle for me. The problem with the first link had been that it provided a (very long) list of software that would be automatically downloaded by Apple if we used ‘Software Update’. I had done so and nothing happened. James said that was because the list was for hard drives and I needed software. Aaaaaarrrgh.

Anyway, before we set off to New Milton and Bashley I scanned my slide and put it into iPhoto.

Not so fast.

I had to update iPhoto first. But I managed that.

I have written so often about driving through deluges over the last couple of years, that I will not risk repetition. I will just say that the clatter of rain on the car’s external surfaces, and the whoosh of spray sent up by our wheels every time we went in for water-skiing drowned out all the other normal motoring sounds, such as the sweep and grind of the windscreen wipers.

Setting off in mid afternoon for a trip to a bank and a farm shop is not usually to be recommended. The bonus of the weather was that both establishments were virtually deserted. I was in and out of the bank before Jackie, having dropped me off, had returned from parking the car;Cheese and piesFerndene vegetable racksJackie studying meat shelvesSausagesand I was able to photograph the shelves of the Ferndene Farm shop. Previously I have been inhibited from producing a camera and potentially photographing crowds who wouldn’t like it. That was not a problem today.

Jackie Carnaby St 6.67Once we were home again I was able to return to ‘posterity’. Carnaby Street in July 1967, where I took a photograph of Jackie in the entrance to a closed clothes shop, was at the centre of the universe. It was Hwhere all the world came to buy their garments so they could be part of the London scene in that swinging decade. We didn’t have the money for such extravagance so we had a look one evening just to say we’d been there.

John Stephen had a shop in the street, where this tie, dating from 1966, was bought in the year Jackie leant against the wrought iron. I wonder whether Mick O’Neill has one like it in his superb collection.

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In July 1967, ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown’, an earlier hit in the UK, was number one in Germany for Manfred Mann, in which band Tom McGuinness played from 1964 – 1969.  Did he, I wonder – top right in the picture – buy his outfit in Carnaby Street?

This evening, ‘once more unto the’ storm did Jackie drive. This time to Ringwood for dinner at the Curry Garden, which was very full. I enjoyed lamb hatkora with a plain nan; Jackie chose prawn korma with pilau rice. We shared a sag paneer and both drank Kingfisher. Afterwards Jackie ate Walls ice cream with chocolate sauce and I had a pistachio kulfi. It was still raining as we drove back along the A31.

Tom

Hartfield Crescent 8.12Since Tom has been on my mind since yesterday’s rugby story, I walked down to Hartfield Crescent (see 17th July).  On Maycross Avenue, from the shelter of a fir tree above, some birds had produced an action painting.  I wondered what would happen if I were to dig it up and put it on the art market.  You never know, Mr. Saatchi may be tempted.  More likely, I would face a criminal damage charge, so I thought better of it.

In Mostyn Road a tree surgeon proffered his card.  I said I didn’t have a garden.  As he looked rather disappointed, I said ‘Unless you want to come to Southampton where I tend my sister’s garden’.  When he brightened at this, looked thoughful, and informed me he used to live in Portsmouth, I realised my quip had backfired.  I told him she already had a tree surgeon and we went our separate ways.

I was unable to pass the secondhand bookshop next to the Mica cafe around the corner from my goal.  Inside, on the top of a pile of books, I found a 1946 edition of Walter de la Mare’s Peacock Pie, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone.  This could not be resisted.  Into the shop came a young woman with two small boys.  She wondered if they would like a donation of three black bin bags of books.  Of course they would.  One of her sons gleefully spotted a Harry Potter book.  I told him he was like my son who hardly ever left the municipal dump with less than he brought there.  I didn’t mention that Elizabeth was the same.

Firm friends at St. Mary’s, Russell Road primary school, Tom McGuiness c1956Tom and I went up to Wimbledon College together and gradually drifted apart because our interests were so different.  We spent many happy hours in each other’s homes, often swapping gruesome American horror comics. We made forbidden trips such as the one described on 10th. July.  We swam in the public swimming baths mentioned in passing on 3rd. July.  In many ways we were inseparable.

On my birthday last year a small party gathered for a meal at the home of Andy and Keith at Saint Aubin de Cadaleche, not far from Sigoules.  I think they knew I could not manage 69 on my own.  We had a spontaneous U tube game.  Each, in turn would choose a song or piece of music.  Keith would then bring it up on U tube and we would all listen or sing along.  One of my selections was a Manfred Mann number.  Up it came, and there he was, Tom in all his ’60s black and white glory, complete with Hank Marvin specs.  This reminded me of my discovery that my old friend, so soon after leaving school, had become a pop star.  Turning on the television one day in 1964, that very same number was playing.  Tom McGuinness was a member of the group.  His own website and that of The Blues Band can tell you far more about him than I can.  I will confine myself to my own memories.

It was thirty year before we were, thanks to Jessica, to meet again.  He was now playing in The Blues Band.  This was a group got together by Paul Jones for a one-off blues gig.  At least thirty years on, they are still going strong.  On stage Paul and Tom look as youthful as they ever did.  This group made an annual trip to the Newark Palace Theatre.  Jessica got in touch with their agent, told him I lived in Newark, and Tom came up early and spent the day with us, providing tickets for the show.  As Paul thought Tom rather skittish during the performance, he told the audience that they would have to excuse him because he had just met up with an old friend after many years.  On another occasion, reminiscing on stage about his time at Wimbledon College, looking straight up at me in Malcolm Anderton’s box, Tom said: ‘Where else can you get an A level in guilt?’.

A talented guitarist, lyricist, and composer, Tom is also the author of a book, still regarded as essential reading for would-be popular musicians, entitled: ‘So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star’, a copy of which he gave me.

This evening Jackie and I dined with Becky and Ian at the Wimbledon Tandoori in Ridgway, Wimbledon Village.  Although we had frequented this restaurant during the year we lived in Ridgway, before moving to Links Avenue in April last year, we had not been there since.  This was why we were most impressed that they remembered us, where we lived, what I ate, and what we drank.  None of the staff here today would, of course, have remembered our last period of visiting there.  They were not even born when Jackie and I were first married, and she would save ten shillings (50p) from the housekeeping to take us out for a curry.  If she had done really well we could have a bottle of wine for nine shillings.  This vast sum took some time to amass, so our visits were special events.  I really can’t remember enough to rate their meals in the old days, but they are top notch now.