Feeling a lot better today, I was able to get up early for a visit from a BT contracted engineer. I have to report an improvement in BT’s service. Despite the wait for an appointment for someone to check the Youview box, Spencer, the specialist, arrived on time, carrying a new box in case of necessity. In the event the problem was not in the box itself, but in one of the cables supplied with it. It was replaced and all is now working. The engineer used a tablet for the multitude of ‘paperwork’. This required three signatures from me, all to be made with my fingertip on the screens. All I could produce were disjointed, widely different, squiggles bearing scarcely any resemblance to anyone’s monicker, let alone mine. This is apparently quite normal.

Yesterday BT, the provider with the most complaints, bought EE, the one with the least. Maybe the new acquisition has worked a little magic.

Much as I have been drawn to venture out in the glorious sunny, yet cold, weather I have seen through the windows this week, I am still not up to it, so I undertook more scanning, this time moving forward a couple of decades to an event covered by Chris on 2nd July 1987. Having looked for one of Elizabeth’s ‘through the ages’ series, I discovered that number 69 was from Chris’s series: Derrick in bath of porridge 2.7.87

As I have a portfolio of 37 prints my brother gave me after the event, I scanned a selection for this post. You may well ask where I am and what I am doing there. Well, I am in a side-street just off Oxford Street in Central London. So close were we to the main thoroughfare that the watchers in the window must have been in an outlet in Oxford Street.Sponsored porridge bath 2.7.87Filling the bath 2.7.87Bath full 2.7.87

During the morning notices fixed to the bath announced the event and the charity, Westminster Mencap, of which I was a Committee Member, for which donations were sought.

Volunteers poured in the various ingredients and stirred them into the consistency of porridge. It was a pleasantly warm viscous mixture into which the chosen victims lowered themselves for their allotted stints.

Two slang words for a prison sentence are in fact ‘stir’ and ‘porridge’, which fact you may or may not find interesting.Medic 2.7.87Derrick 2.7.87 2

Most people dressed down for the performance. It was Chris’s brilliant idea that I should approach Moss Bros to ask them to donate an ex-hire morning suit, complete with topper, for the event. I therefore dressed up.

Jane Reynolds 2.7.87Derrick and Jane Reynolds in bath of porridge 2.7.87

The system was two in a bath for, as far as I remember, each ten minute period. My companion was Jane Reynolds, the then Director of the Association. That wasn’t particularly arduous, now was it?

Tubs of rather colder water were provided for a clean up afterwards. There was no shirking that.Derrick 2.7.87Fiona 2.7.87

Finally, Fiona was on hand with a collecting box, hopefully relieving spectators of the money they had saved in the Selfridges sale on the other side of Oxford Street.

Fish, chips, and peas from the freezer was what we enjoyed for dinner this evening. We then watched the opening match of this year’s Six Nations rugby tournament. This was England v. Wales at Cardiff. England won 21 – 16.

Porridge In The Bedroom

Soon after midday Jackie drove me from a waterlogged Hampshire to a dry Morden.  I then walked to Jessops in Wimbledon and back.  I still needed advice on how many shots I had left on my Scandisk memory card.  Discovering the fault in my camera in Hedge End Jessops had diverted my attention from the reason I had gone there in the first place.  Being told I still had more than 2,500 left was the first bit of good news.  The second was my good fortune in having chosen to go to Wimbledon rather than Colliers Wood.  Having decided to give the mud of Morden Hall Park a miss after my exploits earlier in the week, especially as I still haven’t bought any wellies, I was amazed to learn that that branch closed down last week on account of escalating rents.  I had been saved a wasted journey.

The streets are beginning to be carpeted by autumn leaves.  My route is festooned with estate agents boards, one of which is that of Hawes and Company, which put me in mind of the owner of the maisonette in Stanton Road in which my parents raised five children.  Hawes was the agent to whom Mum paid the weekly rent for our home.  The owner, Mr. Gabouli, was an Italian immigrant who carried out all the maintenance himself.  To me, a child in the 1940s, he seemed very elderly, but I don’t suppose he was anything like my current age.  He wore a knitted jumper full of holes and seemed to have paint everywhere which would never come off.  His specs were held together with masking tape.  The lenses were speckled with so much pigment and plaster I wondered how he could see anything through them.  One day he mislaid them and we had to search them out among his tools and paintbrushes.  All this was made a little more complicated by his accent which was so strong that we couldn’t understand what he said.

Only once in the sixteen years we lived there, was the place decorated throughout.  It seemed to take forever.  I’m not sure whether our landlord brought in helpers for this job, which in reality was probably completed fairly quickly.  Chris and I shared a small bedroom containing bunk beds at the time.  My memory suggests that we all camped in there for a while.  Was cooking somehow done in there, or was it done in the kitchen and carried through?  I’m not sure now, but I expect when Mum reads this she will clarify the situation.  I do remember a saucepan of creamy, steaming porridge consumed around my bed.

We finished the day with a fine salad accompanied by Wickham Vintage Selection 2010.