A Fine Set Of Choppers

‘A Short Walk from Harrods’ is the fifth volume of Dirk Bogarde’s autobiography, and, to my mind, the best. I finished reading it last night, and would have been saddened had I not had one more to come.

This work deals in more depth and detail with material that has been featured in earlier books, notably the years in France. Without giving too much away I would say that this is the mature writer honestly facing endings and renewal with his gifted descriptive writing. Pondering on the flowing language it occurred to me for the first time that Bogarde brings his actor’s ear to his prose. He knows how the words and their placement would sound when spoken, and he works on adapting his undoubted skill. I have not read any of his novels but this book could well read like one.

Today was free from rain, but winds gusted at more than 40 m.p.h.

Aaron of A.P. Maintenance is an ace and generous recycler. He takes our logs to another client whose heating comes solely from an open fire. To us he brings paving and other materials without charging for them.

He really enjoys what he says is “making something from nothing”. Here he stands beside an extra compost bin he is building. The burnt plywood sheet came from his friend’s garage; the pallet from another; the perspex sheeting from our garden; the boards from his own supply. The bricks along the front is a typical finishing touch.

So far the winds have not created too much damage. The galleries in this post can be accessed by clicking on any image in each one. These may be viewed full size by clicking on the boxes beneath them. Further enlargement is also possible with a click. The pictures are labelled individually.

Jackie did her best to repair some of the windburn and other damage to plants, and later we drove to the north of the forest.

There was much waving of manes and twitching of tails from the ponies on the green outside the converted school in South Gorley. One creature, keen to make my acquaintance, met me nose to muzzle as I stepped out of the car, shook her head about a bit, and repeatedly presented a fine set of choppers for inspection.

The stream at Ogdens North was now very shallow, so that pebbles on the bed could be seen beneath the reflections from above.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy piri-piri chicken, marinaded throughout the day in a tangy sauce; her most colourful ratatouille; boiled baby Jersey Royal potatoes; and mature, yet tender, cauliflower and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2019.

The Age Of Chivalry


Raindrops on window

Today began with leaden skies and raindrops on windows.

Garden through rainy window

Even owls, dripped on from branches above,  peered enviously inside.

Late this afternoon, when the rain had desisted somewhat, we took a car load of rubbish, that we had ourselves recycled once or twice already, to Efford Recycling Centre; and returned with two mirrors for the garden, a bar stool, and a Chinese rug.

Back in the early 1970s, I discovered the English book illustrator Frank C. Papé, and,  through him, the American writer, James Branch Cabell, in the illustrated editions produced by The Bodley Head in the early 20th century. I have already featured ‘The Cream of the Jest’, and today, as I finished reading ‘Domnei: a Comedy of Woman-Worship’, offer more information on the collaborators.

On the author, Wikipedia tells us:

‘James Branch Cabell (/ˈkæbəl/; April 14, 1879  – May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. Cabell was well regarded by his contemporaries, including H. L. MenckenEdmund Wilson, and Sinclair Lewis. His works were considered escapist and fit well in the culture of the 1920s, when they were most popular. For Cabell, veracity was “the one unpardonable sin, not merely against art, but against human welfare.”[1][2]

Although escapist, Cabell’s works are ironic and satirical. H. L. Mencken disputed Cabell’s claim to romanticism and characterized him as “really the most acidulous of all the anti-romantics. His gaudy heroes … chase dragons precisely as stockbrockers play golf.” Cabell saw art as an escape from life, but once the artist creates his ideal world, he finds that it is made up of the same elements that make the real one.’

There is much more information on his life and works on this link [1]’

Maybe I’m too gullible, but I found this work an enthralling fantasy of an imagined love story from the age of chivalry. There are a number of cynical characters, and we are invited to believe it is based on fragments of a Medieval manuscript. Obviously the source is spurious, and it is perhaps significant that the only uncut pages are the last two of the alleged bibliography. Nevertheless the romantic in me was enjoyably engaged with this readable story, details of which I will not reveal. The language is of the writer’s time, yet following the form of a 14th century geste. The descriptions of the natural world are beautifully done.

The artist is perfectly in tune with the writer, Clicking on the numbered highlight in the following paragraph will take you to the fuller Wikipedia page about him.

‘Frank Cheyne Papé, who generally signed himself Frank C. Papé (b. Camberwell, July 4, 1878 – d. Bedford, May 5, 1972) was an English artist and book illustrator. He studied at The Slade School of Fine Art, completing his studies circa 1902-04.[1] Papé was married to a fellow Slade student, illustrator Alice Stringer.’

Papé’s distinctive style ensured his popularity in the golden age of book illustration. He has a mastery of line and form.

Domnei, first published in 1913, underwent several revisions before the first illustrated edition of 1930, of which my copy is one.


Of the ten plates protected by tissue sheets, we begin with the frontispiece;


thereafter I have chosen samples of chiaroscuro elegance;


of drollery;


and of excellent composition, with an ability to indicate the effect of passing time on a still beautiful woman. We can well believe this is the lady in the second picture above.


Each of the thirty short chapters is introduced


by a framed picture illustrating its first page.


These are minutely faithful to the text.


I cannot elaborate on this without giving too much away.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s supreme lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and vegetable samosas. I finished the malbec.



This morning, the BT e-mail problem remained unresolved, so I went onto the website that I had received the text about yesterday. This was the update message:
‘We’d like to apologise for a technical problem that meant a minority of BT Mail customers weren’t able to access their email accounts in the past few days.
We’re in the process of restoring access to the affected email accounts and expect to have the service working again later today, so if you’re still unable to access your email account, please wait and try again later.
We’ll be contacting all customers who have been affected by this fault, but if you’d like to get in touch with us, you can use our online form, or email us atBTMessaging@bt.com.
Once again, we’re very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, and we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve the problem.’
Were I able to speak to a real BT administrator about this, I would ask why the first paragraph, when the problem still exists, features the past tense. I would also like to know what constitutes a minority. Brian Clough, the celebrated football manager of the 1970s     famously regarded himself as ‘in a minority of one’. Somehow, I imagine the minority into which BT have assigned me, is rather larger than that.
I suppose I should not be surprised that a twenty first century telephone company does not provide the facility of actual conversation with a management decision maker, or anyone who can explain what is going on. But to suggest that people who have, for days now, been frustrated by the inability to access their e-mails should send one to the above e-mail address seems crass and insensitive.
Once again I am left speculating that this whole problem has resulted from a divorce from Yahoo.
Just before lunch we took another trip to Efford Recycling Centre, ostensibly to dump more rubble and plastic.

We certainly brought back considerably more plastic from the Sales Area than we had deposited. Jackie was delighted to find a large garden table, ideal for potting up plants.
A notice informs us that 86% of last months rubbish was recycled. The Sales Area is probably a recycling achievement that doesn’t feature in these figures.
This afternoon, I returned to the path behind the shrubbery alongside the garden of the empty house. Discovery of the blackbird’s nest containing incubating eggs had caused me to abandon it for a while. I confined myself to digging out various unwanted tree roots, and cutting one of our own shrubs down to size, before extending the IKEA wardrobe fence a bit more.
Whilst I was engaged in this, Jackie was having a switch around. Having now completely cleared the skip pile, making use of a number of its contents and dumping the rest, she was free to turn it into a potting area.

The potting area had, until now, furnished by the butchers’ blocks, been situated under the pergola outside the library/utility room door. Jackie set up the Recycling Centre table, moved the butchers’ blocks in behind it; and supplied a couple of seats to create a new pergola seating area. Thus:

Someone’s garden table became Jackie’s potting centre; the now empty skip pile, some of the contents of which has become a fence, became its home; and the previous potting centre became a seating area.
Soon after 5 p.m. I logged on to the web link given in BT’s message. This carried a box saying the problem was solved, and if you were still unable to access e-mails you should clear your cache. A link for instructions on how to do that was provided. I did it. I still couldn’t reach my e-mails. So I reached for my phone. I rang the help line and waited twenty minutes for an adviser who discovered that my account had been locked because of my unsuccessful attempts to log on. After an hour of fiddling about with changing passwords and having them rejected, I was able to open my account. One of the rejected passwords, which had been accepted three days ago was said not to have the correct numbers of characters today. Clearing the cache meant I also lost my automatically recognised passwords for such as WordPress. I had to have three goes at that one before I could write this post. I still cannot access e-mails on either my Apple or my Blackberry. I think I am beginning to crumble. Aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhh.
With our spicy Bolognese sauce this evening we dined on penne pasta. Possibly Jackie wasn’t confident about my new expertise in spaghetti consumption. Penne’s easy. You can even dispense with the spoon, as you skewer the pasta by prodding the prongs of the fork through the tunnel in the middle. You can get two on the fork at a time. My lady drank Hoegaarden, and I had some more of the chianti.

Helpful Passer-By

Jackie tells me that when she went out this morning she encountered a passer-by helpfully picking up all the foxes’ leavings which had been strewn over our lawn (from a neighbour’s black bag!) and helpfully putting all the bits of rotten food into our not yet emptied, carefully packed, recycle bin!  The young woman said she didn’t mind doing it and called upon God to bless Jackie.  What could she say!!