By Appointment: Photographer To The Tourists

Just before midday Jackie delivered me to Southampton Parkway for the London train. Wandering along the car park, killing time because I was early,Car wheels reflected I contemplated car wheels, many of which were reflected in the numerous puddles. This reminded me of a recent conversation with Jackie’s brother-in-law Ron, in which he had informed me that no cars had been built with hub caps for many years. I had not noticed.
I got talking to a taxi driver who told me that the aluminium alloy wheels were made with a mixture of aluminium and rust. He didn’t know what the special properties of rust were, but said the reason we didn’t see that any more either was that scrap metal merchants collected it for the manufacture of this material.
Under Hungerford Bridge
From Waterloo, I walked across the modern version of the Hungerford Footbridge from Waterloo BridgeTrafagar Square fountainwhich there was a clear view of Waterloo Bridge and the skyline beyond, in which St. Paul’s still holds its own among the taller modern buildings.
Passing through Charing Cross Station and across The Strand, I skirted Trafalgar Square of which the fountains sparkled splendidly in the sunshine. I took the pathway by the left of Wardour Stthe National Gallery to Leicester Square and carried on up Wardour Street which sported vibrant decorations, no doubt in readiness for the Chinese New Year at the end of this month.
At the entrance to Gerrard Street a tourist couple asked me to take their photograph with the gentleman’s mobile phone. As usual in these situations, I asked if I could capture them on my camera. Couple in Gerrard StThey were happy to oblige.
From Shaftesbury Avenue I proceeded to Piccadilly where I shopped in Waterstones and the market in St James’s Churchyard.
I continued to Green Park intending to travel the one stop to Victoria by tube to visit Carol. This was not possible. The Victoria line was closed because of flooding at the terminal station. I took the Piccadilly Line to South Kensington, and the District one to Victoria. Chaos prevailed as the crowds seeking alternative routes struggled to understand the several options open for various destinations given out on the public address system. I didn’t get a seat, but I did get to Carol’s. After my time with her I took my usual journey back to Southampton whence Jackie drove me home.
On the 507 bus a gentleman with a stentorian voice who was clad in a greatcoat and a candlewick bedspread provided us all with information about food; alternately expressed true sorrow and profound gratitude for what he had become; and spared a thought for elderly people with arthritis, which, thankfully he hadn’t come to yet. He staggered off the vehicle struggling with a huge, cumbersome, laundry bag. Most other passengers silently focussed on their electronic devices.
Back home, we dined on lamb curry and pilau rice, every bit as tasty as yesterday. I drank sparkling water.

‘I Told You [It] Was Ill’

Back in the summer we told our landlord’s estate agent that one of the thirty year old storage heaters wasn’t working.  This was inspected in September and pronounced not to be functioning.  After a month I prodded the agent.  A week or so later we were told another company would be in touch to have a look at it.  Two appointments were made over the space of about three weeks and cancelled by the firm, either on the day or the day before.  Lady Bracknell, in Oscar Wilde’s play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, utters the lines ‘to lose one parent …. may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness’.  She came to mind when, for the second time in succession the excuse given had been someone ringing in sick.

Eventually I had a call from the electrical company asking if they could come that afternoon.  I said that was not possible because we were going out.  The man wanted to make another appointment.  I said that, given the history, I wasn’t prepared to make one.  He then asked when we’d be back. An agreement was reached that the men would come at 5 p.m. that afternoon.  They did.  They confirmed the heater wasn’t working.  They would then have to report back to the agent.  After they’d gone, the manager phoned and suggested an adjustment I could make.  He talked me through it.  As we are on Economy 7 tariff, even if it were operating the heat would not come through until the morning, so he volunteered to phone me then and check.  He didn’t.  The tweaking had been unsuccessful anyway.

As with every potential expenditure above a certain figure, the sum of which we don’t know, we are told that the landlord, who lives in Canada has to be e-mailed for consent.  We are also told replies are difficult to come by.  The electrician’s judgement was that a replacement was required and the landlord’s permission had to be sought.  I had by then informed the agent of the inordinate delay over getting the current firm to inspect something we all knew to be defunct anyway, and expressed my usual displeasure at essential repairs needing long-distance landlords’ permission.  A week later the outlay was approved.  I was told the firm would be contacting me again.  After a few more days they did.  Referring to the history, I refused to make an appointment.  I said that if Penyards, the agent, wished to make one and attend on behalf of the landlord, we would of course grant access, but were not prepared to undertake to be present when experience had told us no-one was likely to attend.  Within minutes the agent telephoned me and agreed to be present for an appointment she would make with the electricians.

The appointment was this morning.  It was kept, both parties arriving early.  As we were not going out I said the agent need not stay.  We now have a nice new heater.

It seems time to display the splendid soups on which we lunch when at home during the winter months. Vegetable soup Here is today’s Jackie special: Vegetable with lashings of leeks.  Very warming and tasty.

The bread knife, of which the handle is protruding from beside the loaf, has enjoyed more than fifty years of uninterrupted use.  It was a wedding present from Auntie Gwen to Vivien and me in June 1963.  Unfortunately the board that accompanied it was lost in the move from Lindum House in December 2006.

St Paul's (Vivien) 8.63After Vivien and I married, she continued to work as a colleague of mine at Lloyd’s, until just before Michael was born the following April.  We still wandered around the City area at lunchtime, and were always fascinated by how often St Paul’s would appear between gaps in buildings.  When I took the next ‘posterity’ photograph, in August 1963, my first wife was walking towards me on the right hand side of the road.  I don’t remember  which street we were in, but in those days there was clearly no trouble parking.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Donna-Marie’s in Ringwood for a haircut.  That is, she provided transport.  She wouldn’t nag me into doing anything.  I had intended to have this a couple of weeks ago, but anyone who has followed the sinus saga will know I could not have allowed anyone near my head.

Today’s title is a slightly amended version of the marvellous Spike Milligan’s famous epitaph: ‘I told you I was ill’.  article-2146080-00EF30651000044C-550_468x286Milligan’s own words are inscribed in Gaelic on his gravestone.

I finished the Gran Familia and Jackie drank Hoegaarden with this evening’s delicious chicken curry and savoury rice.  Vanilla ice cream with a dollop of strawberry jam and a coating of evaporated milk completed the meal.