Just To Wind Me Up

It was a long morning.  Knowing that Matthew was coming straight on here for the weekend after dropping Tess and Jo off at Gatwick airport at 5 a.m. got us up early. Mat and Oddie arrived at 6.45.  Soon after this I realised it was also a cold morning, and indeed, the harsh weather is back.  So, when Mat, Oddie and I walked down to the post box and back, I regretted not wearing an overcoat.  Incidentally, have you noticed how often a dog cocks its leg when traversing new territory?  Especially when Oddie is on a lead, we have to wait for him every time he adopts his seemingly unproductive three-legged ballet stance.

We then had a trip to Romsey where Jackie and Matthew wanted to arrange an Interflora bouquet for a funeral.  A suspicious e-mail caused some delay with this. When Jackie logged on to check the florist, she discovered she had a message purporting to come from me.  I had apparently sent this spurious message to myself and three others in my address book, including my French branch of Barclays Bank.  This required a call to BT who reset my password to ensure that this did not happen again.  Naturally it meant going through all the usual choices offered by a machine, then a wait for one of the advisors, all of whom were busy at that moment.  Never mind, I am well used to this now, and the man I eventually spoke to, by the now familiar process of taking over my screen, sorted the problem.  Fortunately I realised I would have to change the passwords on each of my e-mail accounts.  Had I not done so I would have probably gone ballistic when trying to access e-mails on my iMac.

Romsey market

When we eventually did get to Romsey it was cold enough for me to feel sorry for the market stallholders. Jackie buying hydrangea After arranging for the flowers to be sent, we wandered around the town, where Jackie bought an hydrangea from one of the stalwart sellers to plant in a rather beautiful pot that our neighbour Jean had brought all the way from Australia.  HydrangeasOn a nearby fruit and vegetable stall, two young men displayed all the usual patter associated with the East End of London, ‘like budgies, going cheap’, for example.  Seeing delicious looking pies on another we rather regretted that our freezer was full.  Whilst watching Jackie make her purchase I became engaged in an interesting conversation with two women, probably mother and daughter.  As the younger one walked past me, she half turned, without looking at the person she was addressing, and said ‘you don’t do that at my house’.  Sensing she had made a bit of an error, as the older woman followed on, I replied ‘I’ve never even been to your house’.  This caused some amusement.  Having woven their way through the stalls, they approached in a similar manner from another direction.  This time it was a question from the daughter.  ‘Do you want to go to Waitrose?’.  ‘No thanks’, was my response.

Jackie and Matthew both rather like the Daily Mail crossword, so we had to buy the newspaper and take it to Lineker’s cafe where we drank coffee.  For once in my life I was pleased to tackle this puzzle, just to keep warm.  I hasten to add that neither Mat nor his mother are fans of the newspaper, but they do, unfortunately, like its crossword. Mat with Daily Mail crosswordWe know that, on such an occasion, there will be much amusement as I complain about the terrible clues, which would never get through my usual editors.  We take it in turns to write in an answer.  Almost invariably I explode at my turn, with such as ‘it’s got to be this word; but this or that is wrong with the clue’. The glint in Matthew’s eye was not just because he was struggling with a clue, but it is his standard expression for when he has sussed his photograph is being taken.  There was a campaign in London, designed to shame people into drinking less.  Posters carried a picture of a recycle bin full of wine bottles and drink cans.  The caption indicated that the householders were known to like a drink.  For that reason I always feel rather embarrassed when there is a Daily Mail in our transparent recycling bag.

Back home we lunched on marvellous pasties, sausage rolls, bread, and salad Mat had brought from the Upper Dicker Village Shop (see 12th May last year).  Continuing with the puzzle afterwards, Matthew made a point of seeking out the worst clues, just to wind me up.

Jackie made an excellent lamb curry followed by bread and butter pudding for our dinner.  Matthew and I drank Piccini  Montepulciano d’Abruzzo riserva 2010.  Oddie had Butcher’s Senior beef, liver, and rice.

Shirley Oaks

Cherry blossom on car 3.13Snow swirled and settled in the garden throughout the day.  Flurries flew about intermittently in Romsey this morning, but all that settled there was cherry blossom.  This was when I walked around the town whilst Jackie attempted to track down fish for the visit of Sam and Holly and Malachi and Orlaith on Wednesday.

Romsey Abbey 3.13I wandered around the Abbey and its vicinity, including the War Memorial Park and the bank of the river Test.  It was blustery and cold.  Bouquets and carved initials 3.13Having just passed through a gateway onto the narrow riverside bearing a notice warning of deep water and asking for the gate to be kept closed, I came across two bouquets fastened to a tree bearing carved initials.  I wondered what the story was.  Certainly the river flowed very swiftly. Further along, a host of daffodils bravely rivalled the clumps of snowdrops now clearly more in their element.Daffodils on Test 3.13

At least around this area of Romsey there is a collection of plaques embedded at intervals in the pavement and on walls and copings, each bearing a different few lines of poetry.  Betty Tucker poem 3.13Mark Harding poem 3.13Since those by the river have been placed in spots relevant to their text, I imagine that is so of all of them.

Our other reason for choosing Romsey as today’s shopping centre was the toyshop.  Before leaving the town we spent ages trying to decide on Malachi’s birthday present.  Hopefully we got it right in the end.

We then had to find the fish, for there had been none available in Romsey.  Perhaps I should have tried my luck in the river.  Aiming for Totton, to continue the search there, we missed the turn-off, which turned out to be fortunate, for we stumbled across a Morrison’s superstore where we found the smoked haddock we were seeking.

Derrick 1966Photo number 4 of ‘Derrick through the ages’, in which I seem to be attempting to simmer, was taken by Jackie in 1966 at Shirley Oaks.  These were the old children’s village style homes for young people in Local Authority care. Near Croydon, this was a laid out estate of forty two large houses, called cottages, each accommodating twelve children.  At that time the project also included a swimming pool, an infirmary, a laundry, a general store, a junior school, and even an unused mortuary.  The individual houses were staffed by ‘housemothers’, many of whom offered ‘families’ of children long term consistent care.  Jackie was one of these carers, in ‘Laurel cottage’, and my introduction to the world of Social Work that was to provide me with a new direction ( see 18th July 2012).  Long since out of fashion as a method of child care, these buildings were sold off to form an exclusive, expensive enclave.  The seclusion that had been considered too institutional, isolating and ghetto-like for troubled children, had become an attraction for those wealthy enough to buy their homes.  Shirley Oaks children were given no experience of life outside the institution until they were thrust into secondary school.  They didn’t go to the public baths and pay their entrance fee.  They knew no launderettes.  A daily truck provided an eneuretic service for the wet sheets which were left outside the back door.  Their shop issued the housemothers with weekly order forms on which they ticked what they needed and collected it once a week.  No money was handed over.  No ‘outsiders’ attended their school.  When a group of boys from outside began to visit a girl in Jackie’s care, a bunch of Oaks boys attacked them with such violence that there was blood on her doorstep.  I was inspired to attempt to do my bit in changing all this.  Perhaps I made a difference to some young lives.

Those children’s housemother made a very tasty chicken jalfrezi this evening which she ate with Hoegaarden and I with Cepa Lebrel reserva rioja 2008.