My bereaved sister-in-law Frances, is working her way through the unenviable task of sorting through Chris’s effects. This means that some treasures come my way. None more amazing than the postcard she sent me this morning. The stamp on this missive I mailed to my family when we were still living at Stanton Road, shows that first class post in about 1958 cost 2 1/2 pence in old money. Today’s equivalent is fractionally more than 1p. A very early portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is featured. The postmark is illegible, but the content tells me that this was sent from Ockley, where I spent a summer holiday with Ken Lovell and George Edwards’
When Chris asked me to help him write up his family history, he praised my writing ability, but commented that I had ‘verbal diarrhoea’. What I managed to cram into an area of 63 square centimeters on this small card is surely evidence of this.
In case you can’t read it, here is the text: ‘Dear all. I hope you’re having as nice weather as I’m having. Well done Chris. Send Prof my congratulations. Thanks for the letter mum. I had no idea so much of interest would be crammed into two pages. The first day I ran 3 mls and walked 5. The second day I walked 1! The farm animals come so close to the garden that I can draw them. Last night the farmer, who brings his cattle down the main road twice a day, got into an awful jam on the main road in the dark with them – cars were tearing down at 80, and not seeing his notice. Also Jacqueline there’s a mare with a baby foal which gallops over when anyone comes to the gate. After painting the house yesterday Ken and I went blackberrying – we got loads of them in a very short time. Probably today I will go down ‘weird’ St and do a watercolour. Ken’s cooking is as wonderful as the rest of his housekeeping. P.S. Will catch early morning train home Monday morning so have some dinner for me. Love Derrick.’ In fact, zooming in on the image makes it perfectly legible.
This afternoon we travelled to Christchurch’s Regent Centre in Shelly’s car, where we were joined by Helen, and Shelly’s friend Jo, in order to watch the fictional period drama ‘A Little Chaos’. Directed by Alan Rickman, who starred as King Louis XIV of France, it tells the story, written by Allison Deegan, of a partnership of landscape gardeners striving to complete a fountain design for the garden of Versailles. Kate Winslet puts in a suitable strong, sensitive, performance as the woman whose designs and strength of character caused Maitre Le Notre, to employ her to carry out the project. For the sake of anyone who may wish see the 2014 release, I won’t give away any of the story, but can say that it was beautifully filmed; that Matthias Schoenaerts was suitably restrained and brooding as the king’s gardener; and that Alan Rickman played the deadpan, somewhat bored, yet humorous, Sun King to perfection It is definitely worth seeing.
Before returning home we enjoyed pleasant company, coffee, and cake at Shelly and Ron’s. The huge pink mound dominating their garden is in fact a splendid azalea.
This evening’s dinner was what I call Jackie’s symphony in white, consisting of smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and crisp carrots. This time we enjoyed the addition of green beans. I suppose you can have two colours in a white symphony. After all, James Abbot McNeill Whistler, in his similarly titled paintings, did so. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, whilst I drank more of the Chateuneuf du Pape.