This morning I was surprised to hear a very satisfied male woodpigeon joyfully waking the residents of Westbourne Grove. I am spending the weekend in Sutherland Place, which is not where there is a great deal of evidence of avian life. Much as it may try, it doesn’t match up to the night owls and morning cocks of the new forest and nearby farmyards.
Around the corner, in Artesian Road, are sited two large black domestic rubbish bins. I made several sad trips to them. Clearing out the bedroom cupboard revealed the sorry state of much of my artwork, both photographic and drawing. Some of the drawings were by children. Collected over the years these had suffered from the various moves since 2006, and a burglary inflicted on my landlords some months ago. There were framed pictures with broken glass. I didn’t really have the heart to trawl through them all to see what was recoverable. Particularly regrettable were some very large black and white unmounted, and therefore the most vulnerable, prints I had made with chemicals and an enlarger during the 1980s. I rationalised that I still have the negatives, should I wish to replace them. Unfortunately nothing can replace the clarity of those images made in the old-fashioned way. C’est la vie. It was also sad to lose the original drawings I had done for the covers of a magazine dedicated to work with elderly people during my last years as a Social Services Area Manager in Westminster. I had ditched the printed copies when I left Lindum House.
I laid the battered folder on the ground and had one last look. A kind and helpful woman asked if she could help me put them in the Paper and Card bin. There is a green flap at the top, that must be lifted to insert the discards, so assistance is advantageous. I couldn’t dither forever, so I accepted her offer. I explained what I was doing, and she said: ‘Time to go’. And in they went. But not before I had retrieved a portrait of Louisa I had signed and dated on 8th March 1991. That I will iron out. Ouise, you are getting it for Christmas.
The broken framed work went in the Household Rubbish container. It took me some time to lift my spirits for the last of the packing.
Until mid-afternoon I was taking down and packing up pictures; Sam’s oar also came down, but the enormous great thing, one of two won in the Wadham eight in 2001, defied packing. I do hope the removal men bring a suitable screwdriver to dismantle it tomorrow. Anything, like table lamps, for example, that has wires attached had the flex wound round it and taped up. Waste bins were useful for containing old telephones, such as the beautiful Belgian relic (not you, Anne) bought in Newark Old Chapel antiques centre in the late ’80s.
The oldest family portrait I possess is one of Elizabeth Franks, my paternal great-grandmother. I have never disturbed the frame to examine it behind the glass, but it looks to me like a tinted photograph. Her unflinching expression, rather severe, even for a Victorian eighteen year old, and stiffness of pose, suggests a nineteenth century subject for the camera. I removed that from its wall, but it won’t fit into a box.
Deciding I could pack the last of the books whilst the men are taking the furniture to Michael’s house in Graham Road, Wimbledon, I thought I would pack it in for the day. In an attempt to make myself slightly more savoury for my friends in the Akash in Edgware Road, to which I repaired later, I visited the very small, but thriving, Sainsbury’s Local, in Westbourne Grove, to buy shampoo. As I stood in the checkout queue, I began to realise that the cacophany of dicordant sounds of messages and instructions all talking across each other was a string of self-checkout machines that have been installed since I was last here. Younger people used them. They can probably cope better with being told there is an alien object on the tray than the oldies who prefer to deal with a person.
This evening I walked to and from the Akash for my usual meal of hot haldi, special fried rice, onion bhajis to die for, and a plain parata, with Cobra to drink, all followed by a complimentary brandy. The first thing I noticed was the absence of Majid, Shafiq, and Zaman. Other faces I have grown accustomed to over the years were there, ably holding the fort. My regular friends were attending the wedding of Majid’s younger son, who, of course, I remember as a small boy. The manager has done a great job of bringing up his two boys and I congratulated him in a note. Majid’s nephew, Dean, was in charge this evening. Shafiq has trained his kitchen understudies well. He would have been pleased with the meal I was served. I had a long talk with Dean, who was intrigued to learn about this blog, and avidly, there and then, read a couple of posts featuring his family restaurant. He made me a present of my meal ‘on the house’.
My route took me past The Bridge House on the corner of Westbourne Terrace Road and Delamere Terrace, where, when staying overnight at Beauchamp Lodge, I spent many hours over one pint of beer and several pipes, setting crosswords; and where, on Wednesday evenings during his epic 2004 transatlantic trip I eagerly awaited Sam’s weekly call from a satellite phone in the middle of the ocean.