Agnes Miller Parker

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton for me to lunch with Norman at Tas, in The Cut, EC1.

Leycesteria

In the rather neglected station garden a Leycesteria is blooming rather early. Note the dumped supermarket trolley visible beyond the stems.

The Cut SE1

From Waterloo Station I approached The Cut, as congested as ever, via Lower Marsh

Food stall 2

with its cosmopolitan food stalls preparing for the lunchtime custom.

Food stall 1

I wasn’t the only photographer focussing on food.

Tas Special meal

Norman and I had our usual enjoyable discussion over the Anatolian cuisine. We both chose the Tas Special lamb meal, which was very tender and tasty. Before that we had each chosen soups. Mine was fish with coriander and ginger. For dessert we each enjoyed baklava, and shared a bottle of the house red. We finished with coffee before I made my way back to Waterloo for my return home. Further sustenance was not required this evening.

Two days ago, I featured the dust jacket of Eiluned Lewis’s ‘Honey Pots and Brandy Bottles’. This was to display the work of Agnes Miller Parker. I had bought this 1954 publication some forty years ago, essentially for the illustrations. Perhaps, I thought, it was time I got around to reading it. I finished it on the train today.

The book is a collection of essays and poems gathered to represent the four seasons of the year. Published by Country Life the writing is pleasant, if, for this reader, unexciting.

What lifts the publication well beyond the ordinary are the wood engravings of a woman I regard as one of the best illustrators of her day.

SpringSummerAutumnWinter

The clarity, perspective, and depth of field evident in these masterpieces would be impressive if they were simply pen and ink drawings. When one considers the technical skill required to bring light and life to images worked into blocks of wood, admiration can only be enhanced.

Social History From The Loft

Ian, whom Becky had collected to join us yesterday, drove off early this morning to bring his father Peter and stepmother Ally to join the party in time for lunch.

Knowing full well that I would want it, Becky asked me yesterday whether I knew anyone who would like:Warwinter coverthat had been among the many items of interest Flo had found in their loft at Emsworth.

Warwinter slipcase

Beautifully bound, in a split slipcase, stamped with the number 37, this is a portfolio of an edition, limited to 50, remembering:Warwinter 001Warwinter 002

Four of the reproductions are missing. It is to be hoped that they now adorn someone’s wall.

Warwinter Illustration 2

We have No. 2 ‘Townspeople returning from the country with potatoes’

Warwinter Illustration 3

3 ‘The transfer of food from country to town was prohibited’

Warwinter Illustration 4

4 ‘Evacuation ordeal. People rescued their property by every available means’

Warwinter Illustration 5

5 ‘The seventeenth century type barge was the only means of travel’

Warwinter Illustration 7

7 ‘Lack of coal, lighting and food meant communal kitchens’

Warwinter Illustration 8

8 ‘One small stove in every house for cooking, washing and heating’

Warwinter Illustration 11

11 ‘Strange vehicles were used for transport’

Warwinter Illustration 12

12 ‘Trees disappeared during the night’

Warwinter Illustration 13

13 “Haven’t you got any food us?”

Warwinter Illustration 14

14 ‘Our food: sugar beet and bulbs’

We, in the UK, remember that we were subjected to the blitz, as we term the Second World War bombing, but, by and large, we have no knowledge of what the European occupation was like. This set of pictures is a poignant reminder of life in Holland towards the end.

Nine Naughty Nigger BoysBefore the war Black people were rarely seen in England, and immediately afterwards, judging by the dreadful reception of the first Jamaican immigrants who came over on the ‘Windrush’, we seem to have forgotten those, such as the airmen who had fought on our side. It was the consequent ignorance that enabled the letter N to be featured as it was in another of Flo’s findings: First Alphabet and Jingle Book with pictures by Nora S. Unwin and jingles by H.S. Bennett published by The National Magazine Company Ltd. This would not be acceptable today.

Because of the date written inside the front board, Becky had thought I may have possessed one of these as a child. It was of course possible. The inscription inside this one tells us that it was given to Peter by Joy and Susan for Christmas 1946.

A certain amount of hot-bedding went on this evening, because Mat and Tess returned home this afternoon, making way for Peter and Ally. After getting to know each other we all decanted to The Royal Oak for a drink before returning to enjoy one of Jackie’s sausage casseroles, mashed potato, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. For those that had room, this was followed by Tesco’s ‘Down the Rabbit Hole cake’, in the form of the rear end of a rabbit which had benefitted from additional sultanas provided by Flo.Down the rabbit hole cake

Only Ian had room for more alcohol, a Peroni, to accompany the meal.

Becky’s Book

Sunrise

The sun, peering across shrubbery on our lawn through the trunks of naked trees, rose into a clear pale slate-blue sky, ready to dry the dew this morning.

Becky's book frontispiece

Sometime in 1973 I began to make a book for Becky, then my youngest daughter. It was planned for her fourth birthday the following year. I used water-colour pencils on a pad of thick cartridge paper, leaving the spiralled spine in place and binding the boards with a William Morris furnishing fabric, sealed by a press-stud on a flap. Taking a wee bit longer than anticipated, this labour of love was not finished until my little girl’s seventh birthday by which time she could read it for herself.

Here it is:

Becky's book 1Becky's book 2Becky's book 3Becky's book 4Becky's book 5Becky's book 6Becky's book 7Becky's book 8Becky's book 9Becky's book 10Becky's book 11Becky's book 12Becky's book 13Becky's book 14Becky's book 15Becky's book 16Becky's book 17Becky's book 18Becky's book 19Becky's book 20Becky's book 21Becky's book 22Becky's book 23Becky's book 24

Tonight’s dinner consisted of perfect slow baked gammon, crisp carrots and cauliflower, a tangy melange of tomatoes, peppers and onions, and mashed potato and swede with a cheese sauce, followed by lemon and lime jelly. I drank more of Lidl’s Bordeaux.