As You Like It

For the last few days, beset by brisk breezes, Jackie has continued planting

pots on and around the patio. This has involved removing spent plants and compost, replenishment with new soil, and selecting arrangements.

After lunch I posted

Later, I finished rereading

The play needs no introduction from me – I was prompted to read it as directed by Theophile Gautier in his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin.

Peter Brook’s knowledgeable introduction enlightens us about the whole business of theatre direction as well as about this particular work.

Here I present Salvador Dali’s designs for décor and costumes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie with crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts, followed by strawberries and cream, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Alturo Mendoza Malbec 2021.



With the help of James Peacock of Peacock Computers, I spent much of the day trying to clear space in a clogged up iMac. 21,000 photographs has been too much for it.

Elizabeth came for lunch, of which Jackie provided enough for the two of us to enjoy a second sitting this evening.

“Hag-Seed, hence! Fetch us in fuel…..”

Thus does Prospero send Caliban off to fetch in wood in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

But you don’t need to know that to enjoy Margaret Atwood’s marvellous retelling of the Bard’s magical, musical mystery. Her novel is a triumphant addition to the Hogarth Shakespeare Project in which modern writers are invited to present the playwright’s work with a modern interpretation. I finished reading it today.

The original play is brought into the world of today’s technology, featuring drugs, cigarettes, rap and up-to-date musical references. As always I will not reveal the essence of Atwood’s inventive story, but the 2016 reviews were uniformly positive. Deception; disappointment; attempted ravages; revenge; and rollicking rampage are themes given new twists in a setting which provides ample opportunity for skilled group work.

This is a writer at the height of her powers. The novel races along, and her qualities as a poet shine through in her new songs. I don’t know how much research was required for her impressive understanding of either the setting she has chosen or its residents, but Ms Atwood has taken us right there.

As indicated above, no knowledge of the play is required, but you will have a very good idea of it by the time you have completed your reading. You will then be rewarded with a synopsis of Shakespeare’s original, against which you can balance what you have understood. You may then decide to pick up Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

I certainly sought out my copy to illustrate this post. It is The Folio Society’s 1971 edition featuring

Ralph Koltai’s costume designs for the 1968 Chichester Festival.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s luscious leek and potato soup, cold meats, cheeses, and plentiful salad, with Elizabeth’s moist Dorset apple cake. I drank more of the Paniza.



This morning we went driveabout. At New Milton we paid the car tax for a year, bought me some new sandals, and some curry spices; then at Ringwood I examined a magnetic picture frame at Wessex photographic, and placed an order for a larger one, and Jackie bought a keep for the recently fitted door to the master suite.


After lunch Jackie continued transforming our garden whilst I wrote a story. These unusual aquilegias were not visible last year because they were completely overgrown.

WordPress awards, it seems, are like buses. None come along for ages, then two or three arrive together. Having just received two awards in two days, the third has dropped into my mailbox. When Robin of Robin’s Real Life invited me to participate in Five Photos – Five Stories and described me as one of her favourite storytellers, this was my third bus.

Robin’s own delightfully romantic story prompted me to begin my daily quintet with a tale, snippets of which will have been gleaned by readers who have followed me for a while. It is now time to put it all together, and add relevant detail. I hope I can live up to the billing.

In March 1968, two and a half years after the death of Vivien, my first wife, Jackie and I were married. Nine months later, our son Matthew was born. This second marriage was to last a little less than four years. So distressing was the ending that it took each of us seven years to wed other spouses. Jessica, whom I married in 1980, was herself to die in July 2007.

Tess then came into the picture. Tess is Matthew’s lovely wife. In December 2008 she held a surprise 40th Birthday Party for the son Jackie and I shared. On other such special occasions a choice had clearly been made about which of us, who had not met for years, to invite. This time we were both to be at the event in The Plough at Upper Dicker.

With some trepidation I travelled down on the train, walked from the station, duly arrived, and surprised our son. Jackie, however, was absent. I circulated, chatting among the other guests, most of whom I knew well. My wandering through the bars took me past the door to the car park. It was then I did a double take.

The solid door was lit by a small, head height, window, perhaps 50 cm. square. There, neatly framed, in three-quarters profile, was my previous father-in-law, Don Rivett. But, this could not be. Don had died many years earlier.

The door opened, and in walked Jackie.

We conversed a little, then joined separate groups, but somehow or other, often found the groups merging. When Sam was the last to leave one particular table and we found ourselves alone, what now seems obvious began to dawn on me.

By the summer of 2010 Jackie and I had moved into a flat together, the proceeds of sale of our first marital home providing most of the funds necessary to buy our current house.

Jackie 8.10 004

For the requested photograph, I have chosen one from a set of negatives I took in August 2010, and scanned today. To borrow the words William Shakespeare put into the mouth of Dimitius Enobarbus when describing Cleopatra: ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’. Jackie is not the reincarnation of Don, but she is of the muse of my youth.

After that it seems a bit mundane to return to the starling family, but we did spend some time watching as both parents, now more courageous, combined to cater for clamouring chicks.Starling 1Starling 2Starling 3Starling 4Starling 5

The trot along the roof top became more urgent; the drop from the corner, and dash into the cave, less hesitant.

Meat and vegetable samosas and a paratha were added to Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice for our evening meal. We both drank Kingfisher.




The Lady Plumber

It was Homer in The Odyssey who first described dawn as having ‘rosy-‘ or ‘rose-tinted fingers’. This morning we saw how apt his description was. There is, of course, as much controversy about the identity of this ancient Greek, or even Greeks, as there is about our own William Shakespeare’s. Something else the two have in common is that their phrases have become part of international language without speakers necessarily knowing from where or from whom they originated. I expect you can all think of examples. For starters, here is one I learned only this morning: ‘Manners maketh man’. We must have all heard this one, but where does it come from?
‘William of Wykeham’, according to Barrie Haynes, ‘was not a bad lad’. This is how my friend began his ‘Between Ourselves’ column of 22nd July 2009, in a Lincolnshire newspaper, Target Series. He then goes on, among other pieces of information, to tell us that William founded both Winchester College and New College, Oxford. The phrase quoted above has been adopted as their motto by each of these educational establishments, for it was their founder who coined it. Thank you, Barrie, I didn’t know that.
Barrie’s column ran for 76 weekly issues from 2009 to 2010. It is entertaining, sometimes provocative, and a mine of information. I am slowly working my way through the collection he sent me. I am not tempted to skip anything. The man is a delight, and I hope he soon succumbs to my pressure on him to start writing a blog.
During an hiatus in the work of Sam, The Lady Plumber, who fitted our dishwasher this morning, I walked the route through Roger’s fields, along the side of the wood, left along Cottage gardenthe bus route, and back up Downton Lane, pausing as usual to admire the cottage garden on the corner. Cosmos, marigolds, and nicotiana were the plants I could identify.Hang glider and crow
A crow, with another in the distance, tracked the hang glider that reflected the deep blue of the Solent, visible from the fields at our end of the lane.Wood
Fly on dead branchAs I walked along the side of the wood, my face tickled by spider’s strands stretching across the footpath, I felt thankful that I was not a fly, one of which basked in comparative safety on a dead branch.
Sam, The lady PlumberTo return to Sam, she is not phased by any problems she encounters. On each occasion she has worked on our plumbing, she has found the need for another piece of equipment, and has happily gone out and shopped for it. Today the pipe leading from the dishwasher to the water supply was too short, so she bought an extension. Sam is also willing to sort out other problems. Whilst testing the machine she spotted a leak in one of the sinks, unscrewed the elbow and found a broken washer. This meant another trip to the suppliers. She had other jobs to complete first, but undertook to come back to us afterwards, which she promptly did.Sam Davidson Matching the washers had been a difficult task, so Sam was justifiably triumphant when she had fixed the new one to her satisfaction.
Work continued somewhat sporadically in the back drive. We are slowly getting there.
The Happy Wok at Ashley once again provided our evening repast, liquid refreshment being Hoegaarden and Bishop’s Finger.

Famous People

Downton LaneEarly this morning I walked down to the Spar shop to buy milk, collect Sheila’s Guardian newspaper, and post her cards. Along the front wall of Cherry Tree Cottage in Shorefield Road stand three trees identical to one in our garden. On previous occasions I have knocked at the door of the house to ask for their identification. No-one has been at home. This morning, I stopped a man who was driving out from there and asked him. ‘I’m no gardener,’ he said. ‘Just golden conifers. We bought them because they are a different colour.’ At least that gave us something to go on. Golden conifers Cherry Tree CottageOur research threw up Leylandii false cypresses. Although we are not quite convinced, it is possible that we have one of those.

This morning Jackie drove Sheila and me around:Scarecrow Trail                                                             We had toured Bisterne’s similar display last year, so were pleased to find one on our doorstep. In fact, Jackie had investigated the possibility of our entering the competition. Unfortunately, we live on the wrong side of Christchurch Road to be considered Hordle residents. Never mind, that means we count as Milford on Sea and entitles us to the monthly Village Voice magazine, which is quite interesting and contains details of all activities in that area.Scarecrow Lady Gaga After admiring today’s hairstyle of Lady Gaga, we bought a map of the trail in Classic Cuts hairdressers at 40 Stopples Lane.Scarecrow Barbara Woodhouse At No. 32, Everything Pets featured Barbara Woodhouse with dogs.Scarecrow Charlie Chaplin Charlie Chaplin, we thought one of the best, gave Jack and Dave plugs at the entrance to number 111A.Scarecrows Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie, Miss Marple Agatha Christie was backed by two of her creations, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, outside 4 Heath Road.Scarecrow Florence Nightingale Next door, at number 6, Florence Nightingale was being crucified, thus, as Jackie pointed out, making her the only true scarecrow.Scarecrow Dick Turpin At No 10 Dick Turpin brandished his pistol in front of a carriage that was invented long after his time. The competition has three categories: Business, Individual, and Junior. There is a certain amount of duplication in the subject matter. The first we came across was of The Queen. One entry, at 33 Lavender Road was Junior. I particularly like the twist in the body of this one:Scarecrow The Queen 1 Scarecrow The Queen 2                The other, at 25 Pinewood Road, in which a teddy bear had been conscripted to represent a corgi, was an Individual. I thought it fairly unlikely that Her Majesty would read The Sun.Scarecrow Bear Grylls We may easily have missed a second Bear (Grylls), had Sheila not spotted him up a tree at Scarecrow Moeen Ali22 Stopples Lane, and I almost did overlook the brilliant touch of the cricket ball in the Junior entry at 41 Lavender Road, where Moeen Ali stood padded up.Scarecrows Simon Cowell and baby At 49 Ashley Lane, Simon Cowell presents his recently acquired offspring to his fans and enemies alike.Scarecrow Simon Cowell Hordle Pharmacy also featured this gentleman who they kept inside out of the rain. Possibly the censor had exercised some influence over these two exhibits that revealed rather less hairy chest than Mr Cowell would sometimes prefer.Scarecrow Usain Bolt Usain Bolt takes a rest outside No 102.Scarecrow William Shakespeare William Shakespeare took a little searching out along a footpath to 20 Larch Close. Someone had had the good sense to provide him with an umbrella, which Moeen could certainly have done with.Scarecrow Superman

A smiling Superman soars over a fence at 62 Everton Road.Scarecrows Ken Dodd and The Diddy Men Further along, at number 14, the forecourt of Hordle Post Office has been converted to Knotty Ash in order to accommodate Ken Dodd and The Diddy Men.Scarecrow Emmeline Pankhurst
Next door to the Pharmacy lies the W.I. Hall outside which Emmeline Pankhurst has chained herself to the railings.
Anyone wishing to know more about the subjects of these scarecrows is invited to consult a suitable search engine, since they are all Famous People, which was the theme of the competition.
This evening Jackie, Flo, and I dined at The Jarna, where we enjoyed the usual excellent fare.