After lunch on another bitterly cold day, I walked through London Minstead to the Cadnam roundabout where Jackie picked me up and drove us to The Firs to visit Elizabeth.
I was envious of horses in their jackets. One even wore a scarf. In fact I contemplated the illicit acquisition of equine accoutrements, then thought better of it, surmising that a heavy horse’s hoof probably carried more clout than the long arm of the law. In the 1990s I must have watched ‘Doctor Zhivago’, or some other long coat epic, for I bought a made to measure Burberry with a warm lining insert. It was so long I probably looked ridiculous, especially when we didn’t have Russian snow for it to flap away, and as my regular readers will know, I didn’t wear wellies. The flapping around the ankles was likely to unbalance me, especially when going down stairs. I left it on a train. By mistake. I went back a few minutes later. It was at Kings Cross, a terminal station. In that short space of time the coat had disappeared, and never turned up at the lost property office. I hope the thief was continually tripping himself up.
After delivering me to my sister, Jackie went off for a Sainsbury’s shop. We had coffee on her return. In the interim Elizabeth and I had discussed the prospective art exhibition she will be holding in August on the theme of drums. Danni’s boyfriend Andy (not quite an anagram, but at least an onomatopaeic one), as am drums (worth a look – www.amdrums.co.uk) as well as being an excellent drummer, makes beautiful instruments. His drums will be there, as will work by a variety of artists and photographers, one of which will be me. I took a series of photographs in 1976 of Ondekoza, an absolutely stunning Japanese drumming group, then only seven years old (the group, not the members), performing at the Soho festival. I am to make some prints for the exhibition. My colour slides are still at The Firs. My scanner and printer are now at Castle Malwood Lodge. So I unearthed those 37 year old slides which are still vibrant, and will be reproduced in various sizes.
What I also found was a 1976 slide of me in my poncho. This was how I kept warm then, and could have done with it today. I have no doubt no-one who has never fancied themselves as Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Westerns would think I looked ridiculous, but if I knew what had happened to it I would retrieve it and wear it tramping around the freezing forest. When I got back home I tried to scan the slide and attach it to this post. On 20th of this month I explained how the computer can do my head in. Well, I have not used the professional scanner for three years. I scanned the picture very well, but I couldn’t save it in Jpg format which is what it required for the blog. So I sat and cursed the first person I had engaged to teach me how to use Photoshop. Not only was he one of those people who has to do it for you at a rate of knots, so it is impossible to take it in, but he attempted to arrange things so I could scan direct from Photoshop. The result has been I cannot scan unless I go through Photoshop. Whenever I turn the computer on I am told there is a ‘shared library error’. I have never found a way since then of saving to jpg. After a couple of hours at this, I was in a foul mood and hadn’t written a word of this current masterpiece. So I reverted to the memory stick Elizabeth had given me of the photos she had collected and reproduced to project on a screen for my ‘Surprise’ party on 1st July 2012. And I couldn’t get up any pictures. What appeared seemed to be a game. In duplicate. I really lost it then. And phoned Elizabeth. I got her voicemail. Deep breaths. Glass of wine. Start again. Exit the first game. Exit the second. Eureka. Pictures. One of which you see today. You may not think it was worth it. But if anyone recognises the garment, I would be grateful for its return.
At least in the garden of The Firs the Prunus pissardi has not been deterred by the weather, and is beginning to bloom. Jackie couldn’t resist pointing out to me that this flowering cherry had a Turdus turdus (blackbird) perched upon one of the branches. Poor Matthew. With parents like us he didn’t stand a chance to be other than an inveterate punster.
Our evening meal was an excellent roast chicken with all the trimmings followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard. I drank Carta Roja gran reserva 2005 and Jackie had Hoegaarden. Having been grateful for the glass of red wine which helped me write this, I managed to knock it over onto the pale green carpet. Fortunately I knew how to deal with this. I learned soon after we moved to Newark. I had had a very large area of dining and drawing rooms fitted with a green carpet. The very first guests to sample this extravagance were Ann and Don. Poor Ann managed to overturn a full bottle of red wine onto our glorious purchase. Jessica steamed into action. Salt was applied in bucketfuls. Bottles of liberally spilled white wine were added,. The next morning the carpet was as good as new. So was Ann. We’ll have to wait until morning to discover whether I will be equally relieved. In the meantime I am having a refill.