The Gallery

Jackie is slightly better today, but my turn at the chest infection is cooking nicely. My cough sounds like an endless piercing whistle, as it tears at my groin and reverberates around my aching head.

So I wasn’t up to much activity. I thought I could just manage to say something about number 59 in Elizabeth’s ‘through the ages’ series. This turned out to contain a number of other photographs. In April 1986 I finally left my employment as an Area Manager in Westminster Social Services Department. Jessica brought Sam and Louisa to the office on the day I was moving out. It may have been Pat Charnock who took the photograph.Derrick and Louisa 1986

In those days it was just still possible for the manager to have his own room, which was essential for confidential meetings. Mine, in an old Victorian town hall, was huge. I was able to decorate the walls with family photographs. At top left an eighteen year old Michael practices his golf shots. I took this one in 1982. To his right is one of Sam’s first school photographs, probably produced in 1985. The black and white shot was taken in the garden of a gite in France in 1984. Louisa herself, in about that same year, wears the faux leopard skin garment.

Dad is on the left of the bottom row in my parents’ home in Morden, probably in 1985. This is the photograph from which I produced the pastel painting featured in ‘Would You Believe It?’. Matthew, to his right, was, in about 1983, indulging in his usual activity of delighting his younger siblings. To Mat’s right, Auntie Gwen reads in the early 1980s. This image was the basis for one of  my drawings illustrating ‘Not Lost After All’.

I’m not sure who is hiding behind Louisa’s head. Possibly Becky. The two other obscured photos are of me running in races. That with the yellow mount is of a twenty mile race around Wimbledon Common, perhaps in 1984. The man alongside me had accompanied me, chatting, all through the steeply undulating course. About a mile from the finish, he flagged. I completed the event, then back-tracked to find him and spur him to the end.

Shivering, and aching all over, I took myself back to bed this afternoon and dozed a bit.

A couple of times I briefly came downstairs, but didn’t eat anything.

Apple Juice

This morning I made a start on sorting and scanning 20 years of random film negatives.  The first strip was not my own.  It was taken in January 1984 by John Gordon, a friend of my sister Elizabeth.  Derrick running,1984 03This shot featured in the Southampton Daily Echo.  Sponsored in aid of Hilldene, her son Adam Keenan’s day nursery, I (701) was taking part in a ten mile race.  ‘Race’ simply describes the event.  No way was I in contention.  I was merely happy to beat my own personal best.  This one was completed in 64 minutes, and was a new best time, probably because it was snowing when we began.  That does tend to make one rather nippy.  I felt rather smug when Elizabeth told me that the photographer had said it would be a comparatively easy task to run alongside me for the pictures, and found it wasn’t.  The reason long distance runners look much slower than they really are is the heel/toe action which requires the heels to land first in the stride.
Today was twelfth night, and therefore time to take the Christmas decorations down.  First their storage boxes had to be removed from the garage.  Carrying the stack of containers through the kitchen, I walked into a metal chair and bruised my shins.  The stack rose above my eye line, and I hadn’t thought about it in advance.
My running days are over now, but what promises to be the longest running joke of all time continues to surprise.  As Jackie stripped the Christmas tree she let out a cry that must have been heard in Emsworth.  It was even louder than mine when I clouted the chair.
Perhaps three years ago now, Jackie and I took Becky and Flo for a meal at Frankie & Benny’s in Ampere Way, Purley.  Our granddaughter, as is her wont, drank apple juice.  The container bore a green sticker.  As we parted company in the car park, Flo slapped the passenger side front window and ran off smartish.Apple juice There, adhering to my window pane was the apple juice label.  Naturally, when someone plays such a prank, one must retaliate.  About a month later, Becky found the item on a part of her car that I do not remember.  Backwards and forwards went this transitional object, returned in the most devious of ways.  The gaps between the transfers were gradually extended.  This was essential because you had to give your victim time to have forgotten about it.
Have you, dear reader, remembered that Jackie was stripping the Christmas tree?  Well, you know what she found hidden among the artificial foliage, don’t you?
Given that we last hid the offending article in Flo’s Christmas present in 2012, one has to admire her patience.  Yes, Flo, we had forgotten about it.  But we’ll get you back.  In the immortal words of Vera Lynn, ‘Don’t know where, don’t know when’.  You do know that, don’t you?  (Vera Lynn, known as ‘The Forces’ Sweetheart’,  raised innumerable spirits during World War II with, among others, her rendering of ‘We’ll meet again’, which can be found on Youtube).
Dragon by AdamAdam Keenan grew up to be a skilled and much sought after animatronics creator.  Three years ago he made a realistic  mechanically animated dragon for Flo’s birthday.  One of its joints became dislocated.  This necessitated a spell in my nephew’s hospital.  I well remember my tube journey back to Morden on the day I collected the cured lifelike creature.  I took great pleasure sitting in a crowded tube train surreptitiously pulling levers which made its eyes open and shut; its head turn and its tail sweep; and watching the faces opposite me.
At that time Jackie and I were holders of the drink sticker.  So, of course, when Flo opened the box containing the repaired treasured animal, it had a suitable label round its neck.
Far too much rain for the forest and its environs to cope with continued to fall as, this afternoon, we drove to Totton for a mega post-Christmas provisions shop.  Reminiscent of last year, brown water flowed from the overfilled drains in the gutters across the centre of the main road into this suburb of Southampton.  We followed a petrol tanker most of the way, feeling rather grateful that we were not one of those cars, waiting to turn out of side roads, that got the benefit of the bow waves as the large wheeled lozenge sped past.  As Jackie said, there would not be much point in having a car wash at the moment.
On our return someone played ducks and drakes with huge hailstones bouncing from the water-bound tarmac to the car windows and vice versa.
Two fallen beeches in the road from London Minstead to the A337 bear the legend:
Beech sold
Beech fallen
Each is too long to fill the frame of one photograph.  This had us speculating that the purchasers may have been wood-carvers, for craft fairs, after the great storm of 1987, were filled with the work of those who had benefited from the trees that fell throughout the South of England.
This evening we dined on beef hotpot and cabbage, followed by the last of our Christmas pudding.  I drank La Serrana tempranillo 2012, whilst Jackie drank Hoegaarden.
P.S.  In her Facebook comment on this post, my daughter Becky has corrected a few details concerning the label.  Firstly the restaurant was Frankie and Benny’s.  She reminds me that the game began when, during the meal, Flo stuck the object on the back of my hand and I left it there all evening.  That amused our granddaughter.  As we were leaving I placed it on the back of her hand and dashed away.  Plonking it on our window was her retaliation.  But that didn’t take place immediately, Jackie now remembers.  We left the restaurant in convoy.  When stopped at traffic lights Flo emerged from the gloom and planted it on the driver’s window, not mine.  Our last transfer took place a little more than a year ago when we hid it in a kitchen canister.
Now, had this all taken place when I was Flo’s age I probably would have needed no memory jogging.  On the other hand, it couldn’t have, could it?


On another wet morning I set off to visit Amerland Road in Wandsworth.  I chose the route up to Wimbledon Common, along Parkside, and down West Hill.  Apparently it is the jet stream which normally strikes north of Scotland that is responsible for our stormy summer.  Having learned this I reflected that it is hardly surprising that there is a deal of depression in those countries even nearer the pole.

In Mostyn Road a mother was guiding her small daughter on a scooter across the road.  Hearing an approaching taxi, she led the child back to the safety of the pavement.  The cab came to a halt to allow them to cross. 

A painting job in Fairlawn Road in Wimbledon, begun yesterday, was nearing completion.  Whether the weather eventually put a stop to this I am not sure.

Rounding Tibbet’s Corner, Parkside had been part of a three lap twenty mile road race I had run in the late eighties.  This involved three plods up Copse Hill.  I had fallen in with another runner and we continued in tandem for most of the race.  On the third climb up the hill my companion started to flag and doubted that he would be able to finish.  I went on ahead, completed the run, backtracked, and encouraged him to reach the end. 

One of the many traffic signs warning of congestion during the forthcoming Olympics is on Parkside.  And I thought we had succeeded in our bid because of improved transport facilites.  Arriving at Tibbet’s corner I was uncertain which of the major roads off the roundabout was West Hill, and asked the way at a portable burger bar.  The two men serving and their two customers had conflicting ideas as to which one it was, and even whether I needed to use the underpass.  I gambled on one and soon found myself trotting down Putney Hill, which I knew to be wrong.  Realising I should probably be taking a right turn which should take me through to West Hill, I asked a woman with a dog who confirmed this.  Walking down the correct hill I thought of Phyllis Holman Richards who had set up her Adoption Society in that street after discovering a young woman giving birth in a phone box.  I never knew Phyllis, for my time as a consultant to her Society came after her death.  However, others fondly remembered her.  Since the establishment, with its short term mother and baby home, was almost opposite Amerland Road, I wondered whether the delivery had taken place in the predecessor of the kiosk in the header picture.

Yesterday’s post describes my grief at the loss of Vivien.  Eventually this subsided somewhat, and my brother Chris and his great friend Mike Ozga took me in hand and out with them to various venues.  We rode around in a little mini.  I don’t remember whose it was.  As we were all six feet two or three we caused great amusement when we unfolded ourselves from this tiny, yet surprisingly roomy, vehicle.  One evening they drove me ‘creeping like snail unwillingly to’ Helen’s twenty first birthday party.  Never, at the best of times, a party animal, I stood in the Amerland Road flat not knowing where to put myself.  There were a couple of girls in a corner and I thought I might put myself there.  One of them said to her companion: ‘You’re in luck, he’s coming over.’  Unfortunately I only had eyes for the disinterested party.  Jackie.

Although she was, in spirit, rather like Shakespeare’s schoolboy, she was definitely female.  Claiming to be eighteen, Jackie, I learned later, was awaiting that birthday before taking up her post as a housemother in Shirley Oaks.  This was one of the old style self-contained residential villages that existed in those days for children in local authority care.  Visiting her there, I got to know the young people and their stories.  How did they get there?  Who was responsible?  What could be done to prevent it?  These were the questions which exercised me and gave me my direction.  I soon left my insurance desk and began working as an Assistant Child Care Officer in Tolworth Tower in the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames.  That was December, 1966.

Since today’s perambulation had been quite a trek, I returned to Links Avenue by 93 bus from Putney Hill. Having been a bit uncertain of the way to Putney Hill from Amerland Road, I asked a young woman how to get there.  She knew neither the hill nor the bus route.  However, standing in the pouring rain, she insisted on connecting to the internet on her mobile device and consulting it.  Asking me for my postcode she finally came up with a route.  I was to take the 270 bus from stop D in Armoury Way.  This would decant me at Tooting Broadway tube station whence I could travel by underground to Morden.  If you are bored with this detail, imagine how I felt.  Well, she had been so kind I could hardly set off in the opposite direction.  I therefore followed her advice until out of sight, then took a diversion which led me to a postwoman.  She soon put me right, but said it was quite a long way.  When I told her where I had come from, she laughed.

Tonight we had salad, courtesy of the man at Hillier’s Garden Centre mentioned two days ago; boiled eggs; tinned corned beef and tuna from the larder.  I finished the Roc des Chevaliers, and Jackie, being out of Hoegaarden, had a Peroni.