A Robotic Swivel

At New Milton station, where Jackie delivered me on this bright, cold, morning for the Silhouttes on bridgeLondon train, the strong sun silhouetted travellers crossing the bridge linking the two platforms.
Norman and I changed our venue today. We lunched at The Archduke on Concert Hall Approach Road opposite Waterloo Station. I had not been there since, when we both worked in London, Wolf and I frequented it up to about five years ago. It has changed ownership and now has a jazz theme. The food, wine, and service was as good as ever. My choice was Cumberland sausages, mashed potato and onion gravy followed by pecan pie with clotted cream. We shared an excellent bottle of Sicilian red wine.
Station Approach roadAs I was early for our rendezvous I took a walk along Lower Marsh  and back to Waterloo The Incredible Hulkvia Station Approach Road, where the graffiti constantly changes. In a tunnel behind a metal grill, perhaps fitted to keep him contained, The Incredible Hulk prepared for action.
By the time I left Norman and walked to Carol’s via South Bank and Westminster Bridge, the light had failed and the sky clouded over. Westminster Winter Festival was again South Bank and Big Beninstalled on the South Bank. A jolly little train was parked in the sidings in sight of Big Ben.
Living statueA metallic military living statue stood motionless beside the stalls. With my now customary comment: ‘If it’s worth a photograph……..’ I made a donation, in the process dropping an additional 5p piece which, because my lower back still has a knife stuck in it, I was unable to pick up. I told him this, and that he was welcome to it. He smiled, swivelled robotically, and raised his hand in acknowledgement.
Guantanamo demonstrationOn Parliament Square a demonstration urged the immediate cessation of Guantanamo torture.
Again early, I sat in Christchurch Gardens for a while before visiting Carol for our usual enjoyable conversation. Afterwards I returned home by the usual methods. Jackie, of course, was waiting at New Milton on time.

Losing Control

12th July 2014 Westminster BridgeCrowd on South BankI began the day by posting yesterday’s entry. This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Waterloo for a trip to Shampers, Simon Pearson’s wine bar in Kingly Street, where Michael was holding his second 50th birthday celebration. To walk my normal route to Green Park, turn right along Piccadilly, cross this thoroughfare into Air St, turn left up Regent St, and right then left into Kingly St, on a Saturday afternoon in midsummer, is definitely not to be recommended unless you are intent on recording the experience. But I was. So I did. The walk along South Bank and up the steps onto and then across Westminster Bridge was like taking on the combined international rugby forwards of the Six Nations and those of the Southern Hemisphere.Motor boatCruise ship A packed speedboat sped under the bridge while cruise ships unloaded one herd of passengers and took on board another.Selfies Tourists were wielding every kind of device capable of taking photographs, a good number of them being selfies, two of the subjects of which claimed to be Absolutely Fabulous, and the other Knight Style.Crossing Closed sign No-one appeared to see the huge notices closing the crossings at Whitehall and Palace St instructing people to use the underpasses. But perhaps that was just for runners in the 10k run that featured in the small print.Crowds in St James's ParkLovers St James’s Park was a little easier, but still packed with people lovingly basking in the sunshine.Meadow and fountainHeron

Motionless herons kept an eye out for prey from the lake.Crowd in Regent Street

Sculpture and observerToy planesTable tennisPiccadilly and Regent St were almost as crowded as Westminster Bridge.

In Aire St a group were perched on the pavement sketching the view of Regent St through an arch. Having arrived at the venue 90 minutes early, I walked around the corner and sat for a while in Golden Square where two low-flying aircraft had come to grief; spectators communed with the sculpture; and table tennis was in progress.

The assembled company at Shampers were Michael, Heidi, Alice, Emily and her boyfriend Sam; Louisa and Errol; Mat and Tess; Eddie and his wife Rebecca; and two other friends whose names I can’t recall, but whose faces I know well.

Eddie is Michael’s lifelong friend who often stayed with us in Soho in the 1970s, as, of course, did Matthew and Becky. It was natural with that grouping to recount Soho stories. One I haven’t featured before is the tale of the mechanical digger. One afternoon I was horrified to peer out of our first floor window and see one of these clanking its steady way across the yard, its grabber reaching out like something from ‘War of the Worlds’. The cab was empty. Michael and Matthew were vainly attempting to bring it to a halt. I am not sure who reached up and turned it off. Perhaps it was me. This evening Mat revealed that this parked municipal vehicle had been started with the birthday boy’s front door key. Then things began to teeter out of control.

This narrative prompted Eddie, who had also stayed in many other places with us, to confess about the ride-on mower in Wootton Rivers. He had apparently gone for a ride on this sometime in that same decade, had approached the church, lost control, and crunched the stone wall. Eddie’s recollection is that the wall was undamaged, but that the mower was rather crumpled. It still worked, however, so the miscreant parked it in the garage and hoped that Jessica’s father would not notice.

Eddie’s optimism was not entirely misplaced, as was demonstrated by Matthew’s next story. The owner of the mower, you see, was not exactly in complete command of his vehicle. One day our son was playing in the garden with a group of Pearson cousins. Suddenly panic, and cries of ‘Clear the lawn, everything off the lawn’, set in. Small and medium sized children rushed to and fro, hither and thither, grabbing toys, balls, you name it. ‘And Louisa’, someone yelled, and scooped up the crawling infant. It was then that Matthew saw the mower hove into view. ‘The beach ball’, someone shouted.

Too late. The mower steamed over and flattened the large round beach ball. It is believed that the driver remained unaware of the tragedy.

These, and many other stories were enlivened by various excellent wines chosen by Eddie, the professional. I was particularly taken with the chilled Brouilly.

The food was superb, My starter was squid, followed by grilled sardines, chips, and salad, some of which Louisa snaffled. I had to desert the party before the cheese and dessert.Piccadilly Circus

I walked back to Piccadilly Circus and took the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo, and thence to New Milton and from there home by a Galleon taxi.

Sitting opposite me on the train from Waterloo were a young Chinese woman attempting to sleep, and an older Englishwoman attempting to talk. I returned the conversation for a while then indicated my desire to return to my book. Soon peace reigned as my companions slept. They departed at Southampton Central, but very soon afterwards I had to abandon the book, as the train filled up to capacity, and a drunken, acknowledgedly ‘chatty’ young man full of Jameson’s sought to entertain us all. Giving up, I closed ‘December’ by Elizabeth H. Winthrop.

The taxi firm is to be recommended. They operate from a shed outside New Milton station.

Latin Gave Me Up

Although not having got round its baffle, the crow is back trampling the petunias on the chimney pot. The squirrel, on the other hand, earned a meal this morning. It made a successful launch from the eucalyptus, crash landed on top of the corvine baffle, slipped underneath it, and scoffed away. Given that the rodent has now rivalled Eddie the Eagle, Jackie moved the feeder further from the tree. The next lift-off point will doubtless be the new arch. Google can supply further information both on our aforementioned Olympic skier and yesterday’s Greg Rutherford reference.
We returned, briefly, to Castle Malwood Lodge this morning to retrieve two garden recliners we had left behind; and for a chat with Mo. Jackie then drove us to Ringwood where I deposited two pairs of shoes for repair; back home for lunch; then on to New Milton for me to catch the London train to visit Carol.
MeadowThe corner around our old flat is well stocked with self-seeded blooms from Jackie’s temporary garden; and the little meadow alongside New Milton station has an abundance of wild flowers.
Today I finished reading Cicero’s ‘Pro Roscio Amerino’ (For Roscius of Ameria). This is an eloquent and subtle defence of a man facing a trumped-up charge of parricide, and is significant for its being the young advocate’s first speech in a criminal court, and for his courage in taking on powerful political elements. No doubt aided by D.H.Berry’s able translation, the writing flows, and is very readable and entertaining.
It is to be inferred from my last sentence that I did not read this in the original, which would have been far beyond me. I am no Latin scholar, as was proven by my first three years at Wimbledon College. My Grammar school was then notable for its emphasis on the classics. Keen to obtain as many OxBridge university places as possible, Latin and Greek were the school’s most valued subjects, for in those 1950s days, a Latin qualification was a requirement for entry into our two leading centres of learning.
I was never subjected to Greek, and my Latin was so abysmal that, long before the O level stage, I was transferred to Geography, not then considered of prime importance.
Being top of the class in French, it was always a mystery to me that I could not grasp Latin. At school, I thought maybe it was because it seemed to be all about wars that didn’t particularly interest me. Not very many years ago, I twigged the reason for the imbalance. It was partially about word order, but more significantly about ignorance of grammatical terms. Without understanding these, I could manage the modern language, not that dissimilar in construction to our own. Meeting concepts like ‘subjunctive’ which were not considered needing explanation for passers of the eleven plus exam, I didn’t just swim, I sank.
Cicero OrationsLatin gave me up. And Geography teaching was hit and miss, so I failed that too.
So. In English. I went on to read ‘In Verrem 1’ (Against Verres). This was a necessarily short piece used as a device to circumvent the delaying tactics of the defence of a patently guilty man. It was so successful that Verres withdrew and further prepared speeches were not required.
Each of the Orations in my Folio Society edition is preceded by a helpful introduction by the translator. I began Berry’s piece on ‘The Catilinarian Conspiracy’.
From Waterloo I walked across Westminster Bridge to Carol’s in Rochester Row. South BankI have seen this route even more crowded than today, but it was still a struggle to reach and walk across the bridge and past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
At the junction of Great Smith Street and Victoria Street a woman struggled with a chain of keys that would have done credit to Dickens’s Jacob Marley from ‘A Christmas Carol’, to free her bicycle from its fixture on a set of railings.Woman unlocking bike Having succeeded, she dropped the cluster on the pavement and loaded her steed. Given her apparel and the content of her baskets, I wondered how she would manage to ride off. She didn’t. She donned her furry hat over the straw one, pushed the bike across the road, and continued down the street.
I took the 507 bus from Carol’s back to Waterloo and boarded the train to New Milton where my chauffeuse was waiting to drive me home; show me her planting and tidying of the garden; and feed me on fresh vegetables with beef casserole, the method of cooking of which is given in yesterday’s post. She drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.

The Hat

A comment from Becky on yesterday’s post prompted me to delve back into my photographic archives, and scan three more ancient colour slides.
In June 1971, we went on a family holiday with Ellie and Roger Glencross to their cottage, The Haven, in Iwade in Kent. Matthew and Glencrosses 6.71Here they are, on the beach, with Matthew in the foreground:
Matthew, Michael, Becky and Jackie 8.72The following August, Jackie, Michael, Matthew and Becky – seen posing outside The Haven – and I, spent a week there on our own. Michael displays his ever-paternal response to his brother and sister. The children had yet to learn that it is infra dig to wear socks with sandals, and this was the era of hot pants. It was in this low-ceilinged cottage that I learned to tape newspapers to the beams so that I would see them and bend my head to avoid bashing it. This ploy didn’t always work.
Michael and Becky 8.72Jackie, who crocheted the hat that Becky is wearing in this picture on the beach, tells me it is not a mob cap, such as the one appearing on yesterday’s market stall, but a successor. In any case, almost everything in that display was sold. Becky did, however, wear the prototype mob cap. After she had been pushed around Raynes Park sporting it in her pram for several months, a maternity shop, called One and a Half, in Wimbledon Village began selling mob caps. Jackie is convinced they followed her lead.
So excited was I by the above exercise, that I stayed in my dressing gown until I’d completed it. Well, that’s my excuse, anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to tackling the concrete slabs I had abandoned two days ago. I did, however, take up the task again this morning. This involved wielding the grubber axe in order to penetrate the iron-hard soil on one side of each buried block, and gravel and hard-core on the other. The next step was, when the obstruction looked possibly loose enough, to give it a good kick; to discover that  it still wouldn’t budge; and to repeat the process until it did. Prising it up was done with whatever garden tool was nearest to hand, until there was enough space to get my fingers underneath it and heave it up.
I had thought there were just three slabs in the row, until I came to the corner and found there were more, extending along the long side of the bed. Anyone wondering why I didn’t know these were there, should understand that they are mostly covered by two or three inches of weed-infested earth. Bee on cosmosAfter four of the extra ones, I stopped for the day. After all, it was still hot enough to keep the bees buzzing.
This afternoon I walked down to the Spar shop to replenish our stock of sparkling water. This gardening lark is thirsty work. The rooks, chasing each other across the skies, are back in residence.Ploughing1Ploughing 2Ploughing 3
Roger Cobb was ploughing his maize field.
Bev and John are our only neighbours likely to be affected by a bonfire. I always ring them before lighting one. This was the call I had tried to make two days ago that had alerted me to the problem with my mobile phone. I attempted to telephone them again this evening before burning more branches. I had the same problem. And I couldn’t find the reset button. So I rang O2 at Christchurch. The man who answered the phone knew only of one reset which would wipe all my information. He suggested I took the battery out and put it in again. I did that and it worked. Except that I got a voice telling me my stored numbers were not recognised. I waited a bit and tried again, successfully getting through to Bev. This time Jackie helped with the combustion and we made quite good progress before dinner which consisted of her delicious chicken curry and savoury rice. We finished the Cuvee St Jaine.

‘If It’s Worth A Photograph……’

Regent Street lights001Today’s advent picture is similar to the first, but has a different coloured central star.  This seems to me to offer far more variation than one would see today.  It is worthy of note that there are very few pedestrians admiring the window display and the vehicles on Regent Street in December 1963 are all taxis or buses.

As we set off for Southampton Parkway this morning, foraging ponies loomed out of a heavy mist weakly penetrated by a myopic sun resembling a haloed full moon shrouded by thick clouds.  Visibility on the A31 was most meagre.  There were some clear patches on the M27 giving layered views of the bordering forest trees.  Foreground silhouettes would give way to a barely visible row followed by bright golden ones.  The pattern would be repeated into the distance.

By the time my train had reached Waterloo the sun’s warmth had drawn most of the mist up into the ether. Westminster BridgeHouses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge That which lingered over the Thames presented dreamy views of Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.  London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Houses of ParliamentAn oriental gentleman resting a super-long lens on the parapet of the Golden Jubilee Bridge told me what stunning sights he had just seen from the top of the London Eye.  I apprised him of the reason I was unable to emulate him.

Bangles stall

The Christmas fair on South Bank flourished.  One of the stalls sold its own version of festive lighting. Christmas decorations stall Like Catherine wheels they spun, expanded, and contracted.  The timing of this photograph was a delicate matter of trial and error.

Blue CockerelCrossing The Strand and walking through Trafalgar Square I was afforded a clearer view of the blue cockerel poised either to drink from the fountain or to peck at Nelson’s other eye.  I now understand that the sculpture is not French after all.  It is the work of German artist Katharina Fritsch who describes it as ‘feminist’.

Pirate living statueOn the piazza before the National Gallery a diminutive, motionless pirate perched on his own plinth.  Dropping £1 into his hat I said: ‘If it’s worth a photograph, it’s worth a donation’.  Silently, without moving any other, even facial, muscle, like a jointed puppet, he raised his glass in acknowledgement.  I don’t know whether he had been aware I’d shot him.

From the square I walked up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus and along Piccadilly itself to Green Park where I boarded a Jubilee Line train to Neasden and thence to Norman’s. Eros in a bubble Eros, presumably in preparation for the revelries to come, is now encased in a bubble.

Bagman

A bagman I had seen over the years in numerous parts of London adjusted his load after having effected bicycle repairs.

Fortnum & Mason WindowFortnum & Mason Window (1)

Fortnum and Mason’s windows reflected the seasonal mood.

At Green Park I was to regret parting with my last coin.  I needed a pee, which can now only be obtained by inserting 30p into a machine.  So I had to ask the man at the ticket office to change a £10 note.  The smallest coin he gave me was 50p.  The machines don’t give change, so what once cost one old penny was subject to 120x inflation.

Norman fed us on a roast turkey and Christmas pudding lunch with which we shared an excellent bottle of Vacqueras 2011, after which I took my usual route to Carol’s and then on to Waterloo.  Jackie collected me from Southampton.

A Double Six

Our High Streets are dying.  Those in the smaller towns seem to have more Charity Shops than any other single outlet.  Even Bournemouth’s Castlepoint yesterday failed to produce a particular present about which I must, at the moment, be discreet, for fear of the intended recipient sussing.

Before Jackie drove me to Southampton Parkway for my London trip we therefore did some research on the Internet.  Carrying this information and my memory, I sought suitable shops once I arrived at Waterloo.  This involved walking the length of Lower Marsh; back to South Bank; across the Golden Jubilee Bridge to Charing Cross; along The Strand; and finally up St Martin’s Lane.  All to no avail.  Both the Lower Marsh and South Bank establishments were now Japanese restaurants, and the other two had become coffee shops. In the words of the song ‘Fings ain’t what they used to be’.  The Internet information had been posted in March, and I had seen the South Bank and Strand stores thriving within the last eighteen months.  Were I to reveal what I was looking for I imagine my readers would speculate that on-line shopping has done for these businesses.  I may let you know my quarry after 25th December.

Christmas Fair

Merry Go Round

Christmas Fair (1)On South Bank there was an extensive and thriving Christmas fair.

Charlie ChaplinOn 19th July I had seen Charlie Chaplin striding along to his performance venue.  Today, at his pitch, he was receiving significant gleefully embarrassed attention.

On the way to Charing Cross underground station to take the Bakerloo line to Baker Street where I changed to the Jubilee line for Neasden, I passed a crowded Trafalgar Square, in which the French seem to have acquired a stake.  Their emblem was in temporary residence on the otherwise empty plinth.

Trafalgar Square

Norman’s lunch consisted of tender, meaty, roast duck; red cabbage; carrots; and a tasty vegetable and potato bake with which we shared an excellent Italian red wine.  A latticed plum flan was to follow.

Afterwards I took the Jubilee line to Bond Street where I alighted for Oxford Street and the last throw of the dice in the game of ‘Find the Present’.  I threw a double six, so I won’t have to give up and buy it on line.

Oxford Street

I continued along Oxford Street, where it was snowing Christmas lights,to Oxford Circus to catch the Victoria line to Carol’s. Regent Street Regent Street was equally spectacular.

Later, I took my usual route back home from Rochester Row.  Jackie was, as always, on time to meet me at Southampton Parkway.

Back To The Akash

18.7.13

For the third heat-wave day in succession, Jackie drove me to and from Southampton for a London trip.  First port of call was Carol’s, to whose home I struggled over Westminster Bridge and down Victoria Street.  This time it was mid-afternoon in 30+ degrees.

The international teeming throng offered neither let-up nor pavement space. London Eye concourse Wherever possible, leaders of groups held up all kinds of devices for their followers to keep in their sights.  The journey from Waterloo to the comparative freedom of Victoria Street probably took twice as long as normal.  I considered myself fortunate that I wasn’t a tourist or a sightseer intent on visiting places of interest.

JesterOn South Bank various entertainers, such as the jester exchanging high fives with little boys, set up pitches.  Before reaching the concourse Charlie Chaplin strode by on his way to his performance venue.  The artists must have been sweltering under their costumes.

The Thames is, of course, a tidal river.  As I fought my way through the pulsating populace I wondered about descending to join the gulls clambering on the rocks and silt below. Low tideThere was no way down, which was probably a blessing.

After I had finally made it up the steps to Westminster Bridge it was a male hand that thrust the camera into mine. Steps to Westminster Bridge In vain did I attempt to explain to the three young Italians that, because of the height and angle of the sun, they would be backlit in their determination to have the famous clock face featured in their group portrait.  I had a go in French which was just as alien to them as was English. Three Italian lads They did understand my comment that my Italian was non-existent, but pointing at the sun and swivelling myself around didn’t cut much ice.

Shut Guantanamo demo

At Parliament Square a silent demonstration pleaded for the closure of Guantanamo detention centre.

There were several ice-cream vendors about.  Two men in their thirties were debating where they could find shade to sit and eat the treats.  I suggested a park a short way down Victoria Street.  This didn’t interest them as they had to attend a meeting at Guildhall.  Mind you, the cooling delicacy would probably have run all the way down their forearms and dripped off their elbows onto their trousers long before they reached the oasis.  They wouldn’t then have cut very impressive figures at the discussion.

Brolley man

Quite a few people, risking poking others in the face, were using umbrellas as parasols.  One gentleman used his as a beacon for his followers.

From Carol’s I walked along Broadway to St. James’s Park underground station where I boarded the Circle Line tube to Edgware Road, along which I walked to the Akash (see post of 31st October last year) for a meal with Jessie.  There is no air-conditioning on the packed tube trains.  On the Circle Line the temperature was 34.2 degrees.

I enjoyed the usual delightful meal with my very good friend Jessie.  Majid, Zaman, and Shafiq gave me their customary warm welcome and once again produced my favourite repast without my having to order.  It was as if I’d never been away.

We took our coffee outside, where Majid was happy to serve it.  As he placed the pot on the table, I asked him to return to the doorway for a photo.  He had his back to the Akash. Majid outside akash The Christmas tree alongside him is probably one of those he always sets up for the Christian festive season.

Jessie drove me to King’s Cross whence I took the underground to Waterloo and thence to home.

The Abdication

Photographing living sculptureJackie drove me to and from Southampton for my trip to London to visit first Norman, then Carol.

I chose the Golden Jubilee Bridge route to walk to Green Park.

The South Bank living sculpture I had photographed on 18th June had, as usual, caught the eye of another lens wielder.

Making my way to the bridge I became aware of how, from certain directions,  London’s modern Eye can dwarf the older structures that tourists come to picture.

London Eye masking parliament

Pigeons on Golden Jubilee BridgeOn one of the supports of the railway bridge a pair of pigeons, possibly having produced fertiliser for an optimistic maple that had taken root beside them, slumbered in apparent ignorance of the lumbering locomotives behind them.

Passing The Playhouse theatre at Charing Cross, I was treated to the strains of Spamalot’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, being broadcast into the street. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life That truly hilarious song from the Monty Python ‘Life of Brian’ film of 1979 could so easily have been blasphemous, but somehow managed to avoid it.

Nelson's columnPiperNear Trafalgar Square, where Admiral Lord Nelson keeps his single eye on an era he could not have dreamed of whilst saving the English nation at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, one of Westminster Bridge’s lone pipers had found a new pitch.

Empty plinth

The empty plinth, which periodically provides a temporary pedestal for pieces of modern sculpture, awaits its next tenant.

Dancer

A silent male dancer entertained the crowds beneath the National Gallery. They gave him quite a lot of breathing space.

Sightseeing tour queue

On Pall Mall vast throngs, some looking rather disgruntled, queued for what would perforce be a very leisurely sightseeing tour through London’s traffic.

In my Central London years I often shopped in Jermyn Street at sales time.  I am no longer tempted because I still wear shirts bought there up to three or four decades ago.  Hawes & CurtisIn addition to Cary Grant, Hawes & Curtis are featuring Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson hoping to attract prospective customers to take advantage of  their large reductions.  In his brief tenure this playboy king provoked a constitutional crisis in 1936 by his determination to marry his twice divorced lover.  In that bygone age this was acceptable neither to the Church nor the State.  He therefore chose to abdicate and thrust his younger brother onto centre stage.  A reluctant and shy monarch, King George VI, despite a dreadful stutter, with his wife Elizabeth, saw us nobly through the war years and, in 1952, died young, making way for our current long-serving queen.  Colin Firth was awarded a well earned Oscar for his spellbinding performance in the 2010 film ‘The King’s Speech’ which follows King George’s struggles to find his voice.  One has to wonder how the shirt-makers chose their particular icons.

Green Park

In Green Park those who can still comfortably get down to ground level eschewed the deck chairs and sat on the grass.

For lunch, Norman served tender kleftiko, savoury rice, red cabbage and mixed vegetables followed by apricot flan.  In anticipation of my forthcoming birthday he provided a superb Primitivo di Manduria wine of 2010.

I took my usual transport to Carol’s and thence to Waterloo for the return journey.  On the train, with the back of my hand, I managed to slap a sleeping young woman beside me on the thigh.  As she dozed, the pen with which she had been writing rolled off the table.  I used my marvellous reflexes in an attempt to prevent it from falling to the floor between our seats.  The thigh got in the way, and the ballpoint disappeared into the dark recess, so I was forced to slip my arm down the gap to retrieve it.  My co-passenger woke up with a start and was very good about it.

Alex Schneideman

On another oppressively humid overcast day Jackie drove me to Southampton whence I had an uneventful journey to Waterloo. Golden Jubilee Bridge From there, along, it seemed, with the rest of the world, I walked across Golden Jubilee Bridge which runs parallel with an older railway one;Golden Jubilee Bridge and older railway one past Charing Cross; through Trafalgar Square; along Pall Mall; up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus; along Oxford Street to Marble Arch; through to Bayswater Road, where the throng thinned a little; right into Leinster Terrace; then via Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester and Queensborough Terraces, weaved my way to the top end of Queensway; along Westbourne Grove, and finally into Sutherland Place.

A little early for my appointment to make the inventory of my belongings soon to be removed from number 29, I sat for a while in Shrewsbury Gardens at the end of the road, watching dogs crapping on the grass, and listening to gleeful children in the Catholic primary school playground alongside.

An American gentleman, seeking former residences of Marconi, on whom he was doing some research, sought St. Stephen’s Square.  Neither I nor a 67 year old woman who had lived in the area all her life, knew of this.  We came to the conclusion that it may have been bombed during the war, built over, and renamed.

Greenery figuresA couple more greenery figures (see post of 5th June) are chatting over their garden fence in front of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Trafalgar Square fountainNational Gallery stepsThe coping surrounding the fountains in Trafalgar Square and the steps of the National Gallery provided perches from the young of the globe. Trafalgar Square A boy on a rocking horse attempted to leap over one of the lions which Matthew had scaled with such trepidation in September 1976.  Matthew climbing lion, Tafalgar Square, 9.76(If you haven’t already twigged this, clicking on the images enlarges them.  This is sometimes necessary to see the detail of the pictures and possibly the points of my jokes.)

Turkey plea

A chalked plea for the people of Turkey was inscribed on some paving stones.

In Haymarket a group of portly businessmen tottered out of a wine bar promising each other e-mails in the morning.  It is to be hoped that at least one of them remembered.

As I walked down Regent Street I thought of Simon (see post of 10th June) who had sought a memento of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and speculated that he would have liked the pennants strung across the road.  I ignored the ‘crossing not in use sign’.Regent Street

Returning my smile, a young woman in Oxford Street distributing leaflets advertising a waxing service refrained from offering me one.

Halepi restaurant

The Halepi and Zorbas (no apostrophe) restaurants featured in ‘Feng Shui’,  posted on 9th January, are situated in Leinster Terrace.

Zorbas restaurant Contrary to expectations, Zorbas seems still to be in business.

After the planning of the final move from Sutherland Place, I walked down to Notting Hill Gate, took the Central Line to Bond Street, and changed to the Jubilee Line which carried me back to Waterloo.  I read more of John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ on the train, and Jackie drove me back home and fed me on chili con carne (recipe) with which I finished the Maipo merlot and she her Hoegaarden.

In 2009, whilst living in Sutherland Place and preparing the photographs for ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (see 7th April post), I realised I needed some training in how to get the best results from Photoshop.  The first tutor was one of those awful teachers who has to do it all for you, too speedily to follow, let alone make coherent notes.  He also messed up my scanner settings, making it impossible to scan anything at all without channeling it through Photoshop.  I could no longer save a picture in jpg format, and he didn’t know how to put it right.  I didn’t ask him back.

Wandering up Portobello Road one day I came across the stunning window display of a professional photographer which carried a card advertising Photoshop tuition.  If the man could produce the images on show he probably had something to teach me.  I rang the number on the card, and the photographer soon visited me at home.  He was a completely different kettle of fish.  A sensitive and artistic young man, he had all the patience needed to guide me through the processes and enable me to take notes.  He never tried to pack too much into a session.  This was Alex Schneideman who has since become a good friend and incidentally told me how to start a blog on WordPress.

After the second of our three two hour tutorials Alex asked me if he could photograph me.  This he did in the sitting room of 29 Sutherland Place, and placed a set on his website.  He also made me a present of number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series. Derrick 2010 Another was number 20, which I reproduce here, and which demonstrates the photographer’s skill in relaxing his subjects. The photograph on the windowsill is of Michael and Heidi on their wedding day. I don’t think my portraits still adorn the website, but for anyone interested in imaginative, intuitive, photography www.alexschneideman.net  is well worth a visit.  Or, better still, pop along to Portobello Road and meet the man himself and also view the beautiful second-hand illustrated books in which his equally engaging wife deals.

A Different Mother Each Day

After Jackie delivered me to Southampton Parkway for my trip to visit Norman, my train journey was almost uneventful.  No doubt taking the Quiet zone notices literally, a taciturn young man opposite me, sporting an attenuated Mohican that had recently been mown, said nothing and did not take his eyes off the screen of his DELL laptop, even when I asked him to allow me to place my book on the table.  Spread all over the surface, he drew the device about two centimetres towards himself.  For form’s sake, and in order not to lose face, I positioned my book half way on to the table’s edge under the forward-leaning p.c.’s seemingly invertebrate lid, and read a page or two before shifting my seat from the aisle to the window where there was no-one opposite.  I was not being difficult sitting opposite the man.  I don’t have leg room on the inside seats if someone does come and sit opposite, whereas, as long as I pull them in when someone passes I can stick them in the gangway.  Of the three laptop users sharing the table on the return journey, two were asleep before we reached Winchester, and the other’s DELL was not spineless.

Big Ben & London Eye

From the terminal station, keeping an Eye on Big Ben, I crossed Waterloo Bridge, skirted Covent Garden, and wandered into Bloomsbury, passing James Smith’s magnificent umbrella shop where I had bought the brolly stolen from the stairs of our flat in Horse & Dolphin Yard mentioned on 9th February this year.

James-Smith-window

H & D silly faceIncidentally, Becky, who has many memories of that Soho residence, on 30th June 2008 sent me a photograph of Flo taken beneath the yard’s street sign during a nostalgic visit.

From Bloomsbury I returned via Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Street, the New version of which I had crossed, and weaved in and out among the whole world’s populace to Bond Street tube station where I boarded a train to Neasden.  The main difference between Westminster Bridge and Oxford Street, in terms of the crush of people, is that Westminster Bridge is shorter.  Perhaps that is the better route after all.

Shortly before I reached Neasden, as an elderly man wearing a cross put his bible away in preparation for departure, a young woman, carrying a comatose child dangling from a sling like a puppet on a string, walked the length of the carriage placing a printed notice on each of the many vacant seats.  She then retraced her steps in a not very enthusiastic effort to collect the money the message claimed she needed.  Empty handed, she gathered up all her slips of paper and moved on to the next compartment.  My fellow passenger, clearly a kind man, said how difficult it was to determine genuine need.  I offered the observation that the infant was probably not hers, but agreed that it was very problematic and not a very comfortable way for the woman to make a living.  This, however, is a scam I have seen so much of in the London Underground that I have become sadly cynical.  I also experience some guilt when I do not offer help.  Finsbury Park’s station entrance described in my post of 14th June 2012 was notorious when I frequented it in the ’80s and ’90s.  The apparently sleeping three year old flopping in a buggy had a different mother each day.

A display on South Bank for the amusement of those crossing the bridge enabled me to pay lip service to the week’s gardening theme.  A roof was being swept by a woman in curlers and a rather short hoodie, seemingly created from grass cuttings.  South Bank CentreA winding string of coloured wheelbarrows containing floral baskets could been seen below.

For lunch Norman provided duck in plum sauce followed by bread and butter pudding.  We shared a bottle of excellent Rioja.

I finished reading John Guy’s ‘The Tudor Age’ section of The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, and began John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ before arriving back at Southampton where my driver was waiting.