The Swinging Rat Pack


An overnight thunderstorm had freshened the garden and reduced the temperature to a degree that Jackie could continue weeding, hacking, and planting; and I was able to enjoy the game of wandering around seeking her piles of garden waste for me to gather up and transfer to the compost heap or the orange bags for the dump.

In between times, for the next instalment of ‘A Knight’s Tale, I amended some text and

Derrick and Chris 1947

included these two photographs from ‘Pink Petticoats’.

I then scanned another batch of colour negatives from 1990.

Lindum House 5.90 1

I converted to black and white this image of Lindum House made that May.

Lindum House and James Bird 5.90
Lindum House 5.90 2
Lindum House 5.90 3

These show the colours.

Matthew, Louisa, and Carolines's dog

Matthew created a testing improvised seesaw for the ever-game Louisa. The dog belonged to Jessica’s cousin Caroline.

James Bird and Louisa 5.90

James Bird, who here swings with Louisa, is the lad who found the coot.

Wolf and Luci 5.90

Perhaps more cosy in the hammock, Wolf and Luci were another pair of swingers;

Rats on swing 5.90

more precarious were the Rat Pack – popular little pets, of course.

Jessica and another 7.90 1

In July, at the Staunton temple opening, featured in the coot post highlighted above, Jessica shares some amusement with an attractive elderly guest.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb korai, sag ponir, and boiled rice. I finished the cabernet sauvignon. Jackie had consumed her Peroni on the patio beforehand.

What Do You Want?


Buzzards circled overhead this morning, causing a certain amount of consternation among the other birds.

During the morning I did my best to ignore yesterday’s Dr Who on BBC iPlayer and Eastenders, as everyone enjoyed an after the excitement low-key morning.

Matthew has bought Tess a cage and various other accoutrements for Guinea Pigs.  It now remains for the little furry animals to be purchased.  This involved on-line research and several phone calls resulting in leaving messages, which took me back to another post Christmas search in Newark in about 1990.  The night before, one of Sam and Louisa’s pet rats had fled its cage and disappeared upstairs.  The poor creature was hunted down and located behind a chest of drawers in Jessica and my daughter’s bedroom.  A frantic shoving around of the furniture resulted in a fatal crushing.

I took on the task of seeking out a replacement during the holiday period.  Off I drove with the children in the car.  A pet shop in, I think, Mansfield was found open and with a supply of the required rodents.  We chose a white one alleged to be two months old.  It looked a little large to me, but we were assured it was just a baby.

Back home the new pet was pampered and cosseted.  A few days later it was New Year’s Eve.  Jessica and I were invited to spend the evening with friends.  We did this and engaged our usual baby-sitter.  Just after Auld Lang Syne we received a phone call from the teenager we had left in charge at Lindum House.  ‘You know your new rat?’, she enquired, ‘Yes’, I replied.  ‘Well, it’s just had seven babies’, she announced.

Jackie produced another magnificent meal this evening.  Becky & Flo with roast lamb dinnerThis was delicious roast lamb followed by Christmas pudding.  Red and white wines were imbibed, as was Pepsi Max.

As he helped his mother clear up in the kitchen after the meal, Matthew began treating us to his rendering of Adam Faith’s masterpiece.  Both Mat and his sister knew by heart the words of ‘What Do You Want?’.  Neither had ever heard the recording artist who was to become an actor and a successful investor and financial advisor, but they knew just how he sang because they had often ridden in a car driven by me in which they were subjected to my rendering of this and ‘Poor Me’. Adam Faith Mat had given me a copy of his CD for my 70th birthday.  I just had to put it on the record player for everyone to have a good laugh over.  Hearing the original for the first time Matthew and Becky both realised they could sing just like Adam Faith who sang just like their Dad.  I don’t think it was the recording artist who was the source of amusement.  I rather think it was me.

Later, we opened the tree presents.  Becky had put one on for Jackie.  It was Daisy Ashford’s ‘The Young Visiters’.  We then laughed with tears rolling down our faces as Jackie read extracts.


Just before this dull, humid, noon, whilst Jackie was out shopping for our trip to The Firs, I took a brief stroll through Morden Park.  Apart from two friendly couples, one gay and one heterosexual, walking their terriers, I had only magpies and rooks for company.  The birds, scratting about among the stubble, didn’t much fancy mine. 

An absent couple seemed to have discarded their wardrobe in a hurry.  Hopefully they had something to change into.

So enamoured of the window boxes adorning the railings at the front of No. 7 Garth Road was Jackie, that she had to drive the long way round to the A3 to show me the display.  The nasturtiums were grown from seed.

On the A31, Jackie skillfully avoided squashing a vole scampering across the road in front of us.

Arriving at The Firs in the early evening, we were able to enjoy the effects of the lowering sun on the garden before it sank slowly behind the elderly corrugated iron Free Church building next door.  The images above are of abutilon, lobelia cardinals, and prunus pisardii. Whilst Jackie and I were sitting with Elizabeth in the garden, contemplating our next  projects, we were joined by her friend Lynne.  We spotted our little friend, the robin, whose absence had been alarmingly noted last week.  All is well.  The work done on the new bed has exposed the compost heaps of the Tardis, the home of Geoff and Jackie at the bottom of the garden.  We saw a rat emerging from the heap and scuttling away.  Apparently the heap does harbour rats.  This led to a discussion about these rodents.  We were generally agreed that wild ones were not the same as the tame variety.  Tame rats make incredibly good pets, the only problem being that they don’t live very long, so ownership of one is bound to end in tears.  Matthew and Sam, each in their turn, have owned pet rats.  Mat built a whole network of cages which housed up to 70 at one time.  His own particular favourite was kept in an unlocked cage.  At six o’clock every morning his little friend would trot up and sit outside Mat’s bedroom waiting for him to get up.  It was he who introduced his brother Sam to these pets.  Some time in the late 1980s, Jessica was featured in an ITV programme, part of a series about people working at night.  This was in fact the first one, the subject being Social Work.  In one scene Sam is seen seated on the sitting room floor with his white rat crawling up his clothes and nestling in the crook of his shoulder.  Jessica is on the phone to a client.  Rats, therefore, can be friendly and loyal pets.  This is not necessarily the case.  When we lived in Soho’s Chinatown the story was rather different.  In London you are said to be never more that a few metres from a rat.  In this area, where the sun never sets on restaurants, it was more likely centimetres.  We had very thick window frames and one very stout window box.  We wondered what could be gnawing its way through this seasoned timber.  Our friend Carole Littlechild, one night provided the answer.  Asleep on the floor in the sitting room she had been disturbed by the patter of tiny footsteps.  Across her face.  It was indeed a rat.

Remy, a wild rat who became a great friend of the main human character is the star of the Pixar computer-animated comedy film of 2007, ‘Ratatouille’.  This is a wonderful story, beautifully filmed.  If I say any more it will spoil the experience of those of you who accept my recommendation and see the production, even if it means buying the DVD.

After a month struggling with a virus, Elizabeth was able to join us at Eastern Nights in Thornhill.  Thornhill is not the most salubrious Southampton suburb, but it is home to the best Bangladeshi restaurant we have found in the area.  And our research has been extensive.