A Thorough Examination

Aged 18, straight from school in 1960, I was introduced to the somewhat harder reality of Old Wimbledonians rugby.

The tallest in the back row of the Extra A (third) team was where I began; soon to be tried in the second where I was tackled simultaneously by two heavies who sent me crashing to the hard ground on my left shoulder. I rose to my feet, swung my arm round a bit, and packed down in the scrum grasping my second row partner’s arm for support, and continued the game.

I have never recovered from this, although I did continue playing until I

was aged 45, alongside my friend Geoff Austin, for the Old Whitgiftians, when I was able to throw the affected arm out in a straight line ready to jump for the ball as it crossed the outstretched arm of the man in front.

Although I often bore pain running down from the shoulder to the palm of the injured arm, I could generally tolerate this, yet there would be periodic flareups taking me first to NHS facilities and eventually to an osteopath. Over the years I have tried steroid injections, physiotherapy, and eventually the osteopath’s manipulation, which was about 30 years ago. Nothing worked.

For the last three or four months I have been unable to move my neck left, right, up, or down. Realising I would never again manage to dance the hokey cokey – or in fact anything else – this afternoon I kept an appointment with New Milton Chiropractic clinic where I received the most thorough examination ever, including x-rays which had never before been offered. A fault in the x-ray equipment caused too much delay to permit a proper diagnostic explanation, so I will commence a series of treatment beginning on Friday, starting with the diagnosis.

This evening we all dined on Kings House Chinese Takeaway excellent fare with which Jackie and I drank the same wines as yesterday.

Will The Tackler Bring Him Down?


In anticipation of this afternoon’s televised rugby internationals, and not wishing to spend viewing time squinting through a camera viewfinder, I scanned a few colour negatives from October 1992, filmed during Sam’s Newark Under 13 rugby versus Melton.

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

A red-faced, wild-haired, Sam is at the back of the group in blue and white jerseys, his head above the ball.

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

He’s the one with the chunky legs.

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

This time he battles to hang on to the ball.

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

This lad has just received it

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

and sets off under siege.

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

Now Warren plays his customary role of battering ram as he charges into the opposition;

Sam, Newark U13 rugby v Melton 10.92

having broken through, he is lined up for a tackle. Will the tackler bring him down?

Should anyone desire a glimpse of me in my playing days

here are a couple of shots taken by Jessica. I was playing for Old Whigiftians in about 1982. More information appears in ‘Eureka’.

I watched the game between Wales and Georgia, and recorded the other two matches, because we will soon be travelling to Christchurch to attend the Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations of Vicki and Barrie Haynes. Unfortunately I kept dozing off during the second half of the match, but woke up to witness the last bizarre quarter of an hour.

“He’s Taken A Knock In His Undercarriage”


This afternoon rugby’s autumn internationals began. On television I watched Scotland v Samoa; Wales v Australia; and the highlights of England v Argentina. I made a few photographs direct from the screen, cropping out the score lines from the top left hand corners in order not to reveal the results to anyone who has recorded the matches.

Scotland v Samoa 1

Here, in the first match, a player who has been tackled attempts to release the ball;

Scotland v Samoa 2

this time it has been released.

Scotland v Samoa 4

Here the chase is on,

Scotland v Samoa 5

ending with a tussle on the touchline.

Scotland v Samoa 6

Wales v Australia 6

Certain infringements result in the setting of scrums where the opposing two sets of eight forwards bind onto each other pushing for possession of the ball tossed between them by the scrum half, here standing poised;

Scotland v Samoa 11

and here placing the ball into the mêlée.

Scotland v Samoa 9

There are strict rules of engagement determining how the teams pack down, demanding a pause at each stage.

Scotland v Samoa 7

Sometimes loose scrums form in play. The ball is then sent back to one’s own side.

Wales v Australia 7

It is the scrum half’s job to pick it up and pass it back along the line of players.

England v Argentina 6

This is how the teams position themselves when there has been a scrum wrestling over possession.

Scotland v Samoa 10

Tries are scored when the ball is grounded

England v Argentina 7

across the opposing goal line.

Scotland v Samoa 17

Sometimes it is reasonably clear that that has happened;

Scotland v Samoa 8

at others it is rather less than apparent.

Scotland v Samoa 13

The man on the ground, having been scragged, has managed here to pass the ball to a team member who is heading for the try, or goal, line. The referee, in order to keep up with the game, is in hot pursuit.

Scotland v Samoa 18

A try is worth five points. Two more may be added by placing the ball on a tee

Scotland v Samoa 14

and kicking it

Scotland v Samoa 15

between the goal posts above the cross bar to perform a conversion.

Scotland v Samoa (Finn Russell)

Careful concentration is required

Wales v Australia 1 (Leigh Halfpenny)

from the specialists who perform this task.

Scotland v Samoa 12

Instructions are periodically mouthed from behind the ball in order to prevent lip-reading.

Scotland v Samoa 19

Team mates generally attempt to pound along in support of those with

England v Argentina 4

or chasing the ball.

Scotland v Samoa 20

Occasionally one man will get clean away

Wales v Australia 9

on his own;

England v Argentina 5

or have a cluster of opposition players between him and his support.

Wales v Australia 2

Hands and feet compete with each other over the ball.

Wales v Australia 3

When the ball has been kicked into touch, or out of play, the two sets of forwards line up alongside each other, it is then thrown between them and caught by one of the players who may be lifted to aid his jump.

Wales v Australia 4

When spectators spot themselves on the large television screen at the ground, they generally attempt to catch the attention of their friends at home.

Wales v Australia 8

Others check out their own photographs on their mobile devices.

Scotland v Samoa 16

It is quite usual for medical attention to be required. Injuries may be comparatively slight;

Wales v Australia 10

if a player is bleeding he must leave the field to be stitched up and/or bandaged, and may be temporarily replaced by ‘a blood replacement’.

Wales v Australia 5

Medics may step onto the field to assess damage and offer assistance. When this gentleman took a break, the commentator offered the opinion that he had “taken a knock in his undercarriage”.

Wales v Australia 11

The opposing players may be tackled by wrapping arms around them as you charge into them.

England v Argentina 3

This cannot be above shoulder height.

England v Argentina 1

It is not permitted to tackle a player in the air;

England v Argentina 2

and if you up-end him you are responsible for his landing safely.

For those unfamiliar with our more civilised national game, I hope this has made it a little more comprehensible.

This evening Jackie and I dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away with which I drank more of the malbec.


Tackled In Vain


Pass in the air

Today’s set of scanned colour negatives from October 1992 is of Newark Rugby Club Under Thirteens v. Paviors. Here, the home side’s scrum half gets the ball away as he hits the deck. This is the player whose job is to receive the oval ball from the scrum and pass it on.

Passing the ball

This time it is a Paviors player who makes a pass.

Gumshield wearer with ball 1Gumshield wearer with ball 2

One determined Newark lad seems to have a loose gum shield;

A Pavior passing

another’s tackle fails to prevent a Pavior pass.

Break by fullback

Here the home full back charges into the opposition. The full back is the last line of defence, and will often consider attack to be the best option.

Chasing the ball carrier

This targeted chase

A tackle

results in a successful tackle,

Breaking with the ball

whereas this fleet lad eludes one.

Chasing gumshield wearer

Oh. Oh. There goes that gum shield again.

Tackling the gumshield wearer

and again.

Sam breaks

Although you can’t see it, Sam, with the knee-strapping, has actually made a break with the ball.

Breaking with the ball

Contrary to appearances, the referee is not about to tackle this red-head,

Facing a tackle

although this opposition member is.

No 12 has the ball

Number 12. in the centre, has the ball here.

Receiving a pass

Such an effort goes into this tackle, but the Newark player still makes a successful pass.

A pass

Here is another.

In the actionGetting away

Breaking with the ball 3

When a player gets clean away with the ball we term it a break.

Legs in ruck

This is what a worm’s eye view of a scrum looks like. Note the strapped knee,

Sam tackled

belonging to Sam, who, defending manfully, is tackled,

Sam tackled early

passes the ball, and is then tackled late. A tackle is deemed late when the scragged player  no longer holds the ball on impact.  Given the amount of opposition bearing down on the Newark line, the ensuing penalty comes in rather handy.

Girls in changing room

Rugby cheerleaders wear warm clothing and often repair to the pavilion to do something more interesting.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s fiery pork paprika, wild rice, and steaming broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014.






Today was pretty murky. This morning, through the window I watched blackbirds feeding on crab apples. They generally dropped the fruit onto the ground, flew down and ate them where they fell.

This afternoon and early evening was spent watching rugby on T.V.

First came Scotland (in striped shirts) v. Georgia (in red).

Wales (in red) v. South Africa (in green) was to follow.

Finally we had England (in dark blue) v. Argentina (in blue and white stripes).

Any text would be in danger of spoiling. That lets me of the hook.

Jackie collected a takeaway meal from The Raj in Old Milton for ou evening meal. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014. My main meal was naga prawn with special fried rice; we shared poppadoms, pooris, paratha, and sag bahji.

Sir Clive Woodward In Holetown

We shared an ironing project this morning. This had become rather pressing because we hadn’t done any for the last three weeks.

This afternoon I continued scanning the colour slides from the Barbados trip of May 2004.

Incidentally, one Barbados story celebrating Sam’s epic row is told in ‘Crossword Setters’ Pseudonyms’.

Sugar Cane Club 5.04159

We were staying at the friendly and hospitable Sugar Cane Club, nestling on palm-girt hills above the sea.

Sugar Cane Club grounds 5.04156

 the lush hotel grounds

Green monkey 5.04160Green monkey 5.04163

were invaded each evening by thieving green monkeys,

Cane toad 5.04155Cane toad 5.04162

while enormous cane toads lurked in the grasses.

Sam and Dixie watching England v Wales rugby 5.04166Crowd watching England v Wales rugby match 5.04165Crowd watching England v Wales 5.04168

Soon after Sam’s arrival, he, Dixie, and I took a bus to Holetown, where, in a crowded bar we watched, on an overhead screen, a rugby match between England and Wales. I think this must have been a recording of that year’s March Six Nations match which was won by England 31 – 21.

Sir Clive Woodward 5.04167

Sir Clive Woodward, England’s knighted coach, appeared on the wavering screen.

Whilst I was writing this post, our Broadband connection disappeared. Three hours were then occupied waiting to be answered, in conversations with two women in India, then in waiting for calls back. Obviously we are back on line now. I won’t bore you with the details.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic sausage casserole. new potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli, followed by Cornish dairy ice cream and jam tart. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Lidl Cote du Rhone 2014.


An Unexpected Portrait

Yesterday, by a narrow margin, Ireland won their rugby match against France. This was an excellent contest, and secured the championship for the victors. It went down very well in the Irish evening in support of CAFOD, which we attended with Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron.
Catholic Aid For Overseas Development is an official agency representing England and Wales. It exists to help third world countries to become self-sufficient in feeding themselves.
Hopefully the evening made a reasonable contribution to the cause. It was certainly enjoyed by people of all ages. Lynden and Clive provided an excellent calling service for the barn dancing which was enjoyed by three-year-olds and those a good seventy years older. The star of the show was Titus, probably the youngest, who was adopted as her partner by the caller, and kept going until the evening ended at 10 p.m.
We were greeted by Helen and her colleagues ladling out steaming platefuls of tender and tasty Irish stew with wedges of fresh, crusty, bread. No encouragement was needed for some of us to emulate Oliver Twist and present our plates for a second helping.  A gentleman in a fluorescent emerald green jacket managed the temporary bar and later presented the questions for the quiz that Helen had compiled. It was a shame Helen had produced the puzzles because that meant that our team were deprived of the input of Bill who would most certainly have lifted our table from its final sixth place.
Children placed a prompt card on each table, for a group performance of ‘Green Grow The Rushes O’. This is a traditional song involving each group at the appropriate intervals to repeat the refrain on their card. Our ensemble were rather chuffed to earn applause for our harmonising.
After the raffle, in which Bill won a Nivea product, we drove him home, leaving Helen, who had not stopped working all evening, to coordinate the clearing up.
This morning I wandered a wide loop around the forest opposite the end of Lower Drive, emerging at Suters Cottage and returning via London Minstead. This was the area I had explored in the mist of 21st January.
I have often wondered how it is that people can come into such a beautiful region and chuck rubbish out of their cars onto the forest verges.Budweiser bottles Today’s detritus included spent Budweiser bottles.Shadows on forest groundFallen tree shadows
Shadows on wooded slopeShadows crisscrossingSun through treesSunstar through tree - image of young womanThe forest looked so different today. Cast by the bright late morning sun shining through the trees, long shadows streamed across the shattered trunks and leaf-strewn terrain.
Sun stars were created throughout the area, none more dramatic than that providing a picture light for what appeared to be the portrait of a young woman etched on a trunk.
Holly regenerating

A blighted holly demonstrated nature’s powers of regeneration.

Forestry Commision gate

Several deer, as elusive as the ubiquitous brimstones that never seem to settle, streaked across the path beyond a Forestry Commission gate. Forest scapeI swear there were two of the butterflies in this forest scape when I pressed the shutter button.

Minstead Lodge

Minstead Lodge, not yet obscured by leaves, can still be seen in its lofty position above the road.

Orange tree and pony

The deciduous trees are beginning to come into leaf. Some of these take on a bright orange hue lending them a glow borrowed from the russet ponies,

When we first moved into our current home, the walls of the flat were occupied by the owner’s pictures. Carefully labelled by Jackie, we packed these up,stored them in a cupboard for access to which we needed a step-ladder, and replaced them with our own. This afternoon we reversed the process.

This evening Elizabeth and Danni joined us and my niece drove us all to Ringwood’s Curry Garden where we enjoyed the usual high standard meal with friendly and efficient service. The restaurant was very full.

Grandchild Duties

Becky and Flo arrived early this morning for Flo to have a ride on Poppy whilst Berry and I walked alongside.
First Flo had to perform grandchild duties. That is she had to help Grandpa get his head round his new HP computer. Specifically, how could he access his list of contacts and send the same change of address information to a number of friends and relatives.
Flo and Becky shared the diagnostic opinion that I was now on Windows 8 which was displayed very differently than my previous Windows Vista. Flo then took over the machine, made various adjustments, and created a presentation with which I was familiar, thus enabling me to access my e-mail addresses. Apparently I now have a different browser installed. This is Google Chrome, and, in case I forget, Flo has renamed Chrome as Internet. It was Becky who worked out how to send the multiple copies.
Becky then drove us up to Skymers where Berry now keeps her ponies.Becky, Flo & Poppy Poppy patiently allowed Berry and Flo to tack her up, whilst Becky made her acquaintance.
As Berry said, Flo and the pony have good trust in each other. The gentle steed obeyed all Flo’s silent instructions. Apparently had she felt insecure with her rider, she would have made that very clear.Flo, Berry & Poppy
Flo on PoppyFlo, Berry, Poppy & another ponyIt wasn’t long before the equestrian was free to go on ahead, occasionally stopping for the Flo on Poppy 2pedestrians. We traversed tracks through the sun-dappled woodlands to the west of Forest Road.
It was always interesting when we passed other forest ponies in the wild.
After lunch I watched the last ten minutes of England’s rugby victory over Italy. This was followed by the sad debacle of Wales thrashing a depleted Scotland side. Becky and Flo departed at half time, and I watched the second half. After I post this I will settle down to the last game of this year’s Six Nations tournament. This is between France and Ireland. The outcome will decide whether the championship is won by Ireland or England.
As soon as the match is over Jackie will drive us over to collect Bill and take him to an Irish quiz night at Ringwood. I will report on that tomorrow.

Oiling The Lion

A pair of socks hanging in a tree on this bright, crisp, morning along the Wandle Trail en route to Colliers Wood reminded me of my rugby boots.  On 25th June I mentioned my ingenious scrumping in Cottenham Park sometime in the 1950s.  Remembering throwing sticks into conker trees when younger, I had decided to chuck my boots into an apple tree intending to knock off some fruit.  Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to untie the laces that bound them together.  Soon they were suspended like the socks.  More ingenuity was required to get them down.  This involved the park keeper who was a bit put out.  It made me late for the match.  I couldn’t even invent a story which would present me in a better light.  The news had been spread all round the changing rooms.  Bill Edney, Geography master and rugby coach, was also a bit put out.

On another occasion, when playing for the Wimbledon College Old Boys, I lost a boot on the field.  Rather than stop and put it on, choosing to wait for the next natural stoppage, I continued wearing one sole boot.  I must be the only player ever to score a try with ‘one shoe off and one shoe on’.  (My second name is John).  I was probably lent wings to avoid anyone stamping on my stockinged foot.

A lace once came in very handy.  When Alan Warren broke my finger (posted 23rd July), I obtained a spare, lace, not finger, from the referee and strapped the damaged digit to its neighbour in order to carry on playing.

It will now be apparent that nothing short of instant death would have got me off the field before the final whistle.  When I damaged a shoulder which has given me constant pain for more than fifty years, I couldn’t raise my left arm, but I could rest it across the shoulders of my partner in the second row of the scrum.  How daft can you get?

Sam knew.  When I was about sixty and hadn’t taken the field for fifteen years, he played for a Newark side against a pub team.  Reckoning I must be as fit as most members of the probably inebriated opposition, I sneaked my aged kit along when I went to watch.  Just in case.  Sam was not one to carry on regardless when injured, so I was puzzled at his continuing the game with a twisted ankle.  Afterwards, I asked him why.  ‘Because you would have come on’, he replied.  And I didn’t think he knew I had come prepared.

During Sam’s stag weekend in the Margaret River area of South West Australia the young men arranged a game of touch rugby.  In this form of the game there is no tackling.  You just touch your opponent who must then release the ball.  This was at the end of a day sampling the wineries.  Naturally I joined in.  After all, touch rugby is safe enough.  Sam’s friend, Deutch, 6′ 5” and about 18 stone, forgot the rules and tackled me hard.  Once I got to my feet I took the first opportunity to retaliate.  I couldn’t get my arms around his hips.  It was then that Mick O’Neil, about to become Sam’s father-in-law, sensibly called a halt to the proceedings, because, he said ‘someone will get hurt’.  I think he meant me.

As usual, this morning, I continued my journey to Norman’s by tube.  On the Jubilee line between Green Park and Baker Street, a young woman with extremely shapely limbs revealed by the briefest of running shorts; a ring through one nostril; a diamond stud in the other; and acne on her face cheeks spent her time oiling a lion’s head tattoo which was all that covered her right thigh.  Perhaps she was applying hair care to the animal’s plentiful mane.  Since she was seated directly opposite me, I was somewhat distracted from my book.

Church Road market, in the glory of the sunshine, was a colourful as ever.

Despite having a bad cold, Norman was able to serve up a succulent roast partridge meal followed by apfel strudel.  Sadly he was unable to drink all of his half of the 2009 Dao, so I had to imbibe more than mine.

The Hornby Train Set

Today I walked to Kingston to meet Geoff Austin (see 22nd. June post) at the Canbury Arms.  Jackie had used Google Earth last night to find the route for me.  She is very good at taking the walk through locations, and I was amazed at the pin-sharp pictures showing me the roads I needed to walk down, and picking out the landmarks like Wickes at the corner of London and Gordon Roads.  Taking the Martin Way route, I crossed Bushy Road into Sidney Road, turning left at the end and on to Raynes Park Station; went under the bridge and along to Coombe Lane from which it is more or less straight through to Kingston; arriving at the pub with an hour to spare.

Almost opposite Raynes Park Station still lies, now undergoing refurbishment, the establishment where Bob Mitchell treated the young Jackie and me to fish and chips after cricket matches and drinks in the Raynes Park Tavern.  Bob was a free spirit who enlivened matches more by his antics than by his cricketing skills.  He was instrumental in my one and only loss of temper on a sportsfield.  I once won the club single wicket competition.  This is a knock out event where members play short individual matches against each other with their colleagues doing the fielding.  In one of the earlier rounds I was up against Charlie Moulder (see 13th. July).  Bob decided to even things up a bit.  When I had scored just one run, as umpire, he gave me out caught by the wicket keeper.  My bat had been nowhere near the ball.  I’d like to say that I was a little upset.  Unfortunately that would be dishonest.  I was in a blinding rage, especially as Bob laughed when I walked past him.  Normally I opted to bowl up the hill at Cottenham Park, because that would slow me down and give me more control.  This time, I knew I would have to bowl as fast as, or even faster than, I could.  So I chose to come down the hill.  Still fuming, I scared the life out of a really very nice man, tearing down with my hair, at that time halfway down my back, streaming in the wind.  The first ball knocked out two of Charlie’s stumps.  Bob was quite unashamed in acknowledging what he had done.  Jackie, on the other hand, was very ashamed of me.  Mr. Cool had got too hot under the collar and behaved disgracefully.  Now I’ve grown up a bit, I too, am ashamed of that performance.  Bob was an incorrigible ladies’ man.  When, in his nineties, a couple of years ago, he arrived at the club’s 60th. Anniversary Dinner with a very attractive young woman in attendance, the story was that she was his carer.  But we all knew better.  We knew that our Bob had not lost his touch.

Wimbledon College Playing Fields 8.12Along Coombe Lane this morning I passed Wimbledon College Playing Fields.  We always walked there from the school in Edge Hill to play rugby and cricket.  It was here that Tom McGuinness, mentioned on 10th. July, scored what I believe to be his only try.  Tom’s eyesight was so bad that he could never see what was going on.  One afternoon he found the rugby ball in his hands.  ‘What shall I do?’, he asked me.  ‘Run for the line’, I replied.  ‘Where is it?’ enquired Tom.  ‘That way’, I indicated.  Tom sped for the line, fell over, and touched down.  No-one saw him.  The fact that we were playing in dense fog had levelled this particular playing field.

I could tell a schoolboy cricketing story or two, but perhaps the one above is enough for Judith’s tolerance in any one post.

The grandeur of the houses along Coombe Lane West, and those on the private roads off it, contrasted with the more humble dwellings and shops in Norbiton, where now live a number of people from Korea.  Among those catering for the incomers, there are still traditional shops near Norbiton Station, including a butcher’s with a novel way of announcing its presence.  The trails of pigeon droppings crossing the road on either side of the railway bridge caught my eye.  I decided they had been made by rows of birds perched on the top of the bridge, rather than one unfortunate with the runs.  I thought it best not to look up.

Passing Warren Road, one of the private ones mentioned above, I reflected on ‘Shern’ children’s home which was once there.  (On 25th. August I post a correction to this.  ‘Shern’ was in fact in New Malden.  It was the baby nursery in this location.)  On the far side of Norbiton are council estates which housed many of the families who were clients of Kingston Children’s Department, as it was in the ’60s, before the Seebohm Report led to the creation of Social Services Departments.  Whilst it would not be appropriate for me to publicise any of their stories, I have fond and clear memories of those who were my responsibility in my first employment as an Assistant Child Care Officer.  With time out for training, I was there six years.  During my first summer every one of the boys resident at ‘Shern’ was on my caseload.  They thought it strange that on each visit I would only see one of them.  Eventually they grasped that this was my way of emphasising the importance of each individual.  This, of course, meant that I made rather more calls to this establishment than was the norm.

Whilst waiting for Geoff I spoke to Louisa on the telephone.  Yesterday she had published on Facebook a photograph of Jessica and Imogen playing with a Hornby Train Set the girls had found in their garage.  This antique toy, in full working order, was still in its original box.  Winding it up and setting it going was giving hours of pleasure.  Suddenly the parents of little boys were asking if they could come and play with my granddaughters.  Louisa had asked me if the train set had been mine.  Well, I suppose I am antique enough.  I knew it was not mine, and that it had been a find of Grannie Jess’s.  Yesterday I hadn’t been sure whether this had been in a car boot sale or on a skip.  Overnight I had recollected that this treasure had been salvaged from a skip outside a house that was being cleared.

Geoff and I had an enjoyable time over lunch reminiscing about our days in Westminster; a couple of games I had played for his cricket club; and rugby at the Old Whitgiftians.  He told me about his period in 2011 as Deputy Mayor of Kingston, during which he officiated at 202 events.  I was shown a selection of some of the more interesting photographs in which he and his wife, Sheila, generally had smiles on their faces.  As a Councillor, this long time resident of Kingston was required to research much of the town’s history.  He was able to tell me that the residential development on the opposite corner of Elm and Canbury Park Roads to the pub lay on the site of the former Hawker factory.  This was where all the First World War Sopwith Camel airplanes had been built.  By the outbreak of the Second World War the old factory could not cope with the now larger planes that were required, so the enterprise was moved further down the road.  But no-one told the Germans, which is why the area suffered heavy bombing.  The propeller from a Sopwith Camel is mounted in the grounds belonging to the residences.  Anyone wishing to seek more information on this should visit www.kingstonaviation.org/

Miraculously the Canbury Arms survived.  It was therefore able to provide us with lunch of sweetcorn and tarragon soup followed by beef and mushroom pie, chips, and salad.  We each made the same excellent choice, and drank a local brew called ‘Naked Ladies’.  Neither of us could manage a sweet.

The K5 bus which took me back to Morden is a ‘Hail & Ride’ facility running once an hour.  This means that, on certain sections of the route, you just hail it like a taxi, or, if on board, ring the bell and it stops for you.  It is one of Geoff’s achievements as a Councillor that this threatened service has been retained.