A Deterrent


This morning, taking a diversion along the footpath through the maize fields to check out yesterday’s erroneous interpretation of the demise of the crow, I walked down to the spa shop and back. Family on footpathA family, having emerged from the shop, traversed the zebra crossing and continued down the steep footpath through the rookery to the holiday homes beyond.

Crow strung upCrow's feetThe crow had not, as I naively thought, ensnared itself. I now decided it had probably been shot and strung up as a deterrent to others who were probably sampling the maize crop.

In the garden, Jackie continued her autumn clear up, being scarily severe in her pruning. Realigned pathsalicifolia koromiko hebeShe also found time to realign some of the stone and brick borders to footpaths, whilst I made quite a bit of progress in digging up concrete and brick paving in the former kitchen garden, and adding to its growing pile.

Red hot poker variant in contextRed hot poker variantPaving pileIs this a variant of the red hot poker that we now see blooming?

This evening’s dinner consisted of plump, lean, Ferndene Farm pork sausages, boiled potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and baked beans. I finished the Reserve des Tuguets, and Jackie abstained.

After this, I began reading ‘The Bhagavad Gita’.


Having just passed through London Minstead this morning on the way to Southampton for my usual journey to Waterloo, we learned the true meaning of New Forest animals having no road sense, and a contributory factor to so many fatalities.
Fortunately Jackie, as usual, was driving slowly down this winding lane. In a flash, almost alongside the car, two ponies burst through the wayside gorse, scrambled awkwardly up a ditch, and staggered forward. As my driver, crying the warning, ‘No, no’, made an emergency stop, one of these creatures swerved and continued along the side of the vehicle. The other, practically touching the bonnet, without a sideways glance, tottered across the road in front of us. Anyone travelling a bit faster and not anticipating the reckless progress of the animal would most certainly have hit it.
This incident put me in mind of Gerhard, known as Garry, a temporary colleague in Mobil Shipping Company where I worked in a building appropriately named The Pill Box from 1963 -1966. Linking the central island on which this stood with the rear entrance of Waterloo Station was a zebra crossing. From my office window I once watched this high flying international management trainee, without warning, march across this pedestrian access bringing an approaching vehicle to a skidding halt. When I suggested to him that this might not be the most sensible way to use the crossing and that he might end up in the nearby St Thomas’s hospital, he replied: ‘Well, it would be his fault’. There wasn’t really any answer to that.
Tube trainFrom Waterloo I took the same tube journey as last time to Preston Road, where the underground trains get to come up for air. John Billam Sports GroundFrom there I walked to Norman’s new home. This took me through the John Billam Sports Ground, which could have graced many a London suburb of its period.
AllotmentsOne corner contains well-tended allotments which bore evidence of recent rotavation. A Yawsolitary jogger ran several laps of the perimeter, and I had a pleasant conversation with a young man who was honing his football skills in what I took to be a five-a-side enclosure. This was Yaw. It was good to meet him and shake his hand. He seemed to have tireless energy, but perhaps he appreciated the brief interlude my interruption had afforded him.
Norman fed us on shoulder of pork with flavoursome savoury rice, kale, and green beans, followed by blackberry and apple latticed flan. We shared a bottle of 2010 Chianti riserva.
I then travelled by Metropolitan, Jubilee, and Victoria lines to Victoria for a visit to Carol.
As I slid my left palm along a metal handrail in Victoria station my fingers momentarily adhered to a glutinous gobbet of gum on its underside.
After my normal journey back to Southampton Jackie met me and drove me home.
In case anyone, having read my last two posts, is wondering, I am still waiting for Penyards’ manager to ‘get back to me’.


As I watched a group of brave people setting up St. James’ Church fete in Martin Way, en route to Cannon Hill Common, I reflected on the fact that most such events have been washed out this year.  Jackie read this morning that the Godiva festival in Coventry, an event which takes a year in the planning, has had to be cancelled because of the torrential rain which has been flooding the Midlands for months.  London has not suffered as much as the rest of the country, and today was bright, although very windy and cloudy.  I wished this parochial effort well.

Along the lake in the common people were fishing.  These included a man with two children and a group of boys.  The man had a fishing licence but was not a club member and knew nothing of the lease to the Wandle Piscators (see post of 31st. May).  The boys were more interested in making fun of one of their group who, in attempting to retrieve something from the water, already with one saturated trouser-leg, was in danger of falling in, than in conversing with me.

Mallards and coots were basking in the occasional shafts of sunlight.  Another duck was shepherding her chicks.  A cormorant on the far side of the lake was poised for the kill (of fish, not chicks).  Three magpies I disturbed on the path fled to the safety of a solitary tree.

Having emerged from the Joseph Hood recreation ground, alongside the common, a woman was training her Labrador puppy to cross the road.  This prompted me to tell her the story of Piper.  Piper was the dog who helped Michael upstage me in the launderette television scene (see post of 22nd. June).  Some thirty odd years ago, when my son was still a teenager, we lived in Soho where Michael did a paper round. Michael & Piper 6.77 One morning he came back with a mongrel dog of uncertain age.  Naturally he wished to keep him.  Now, we lived in a tiny first floor flat in the middle of Chinatown.  It seemed to me that it was unreasonable to keep a dog there.  I was, however, outnumbered by two to one.  Here was I, doing my best to have a quiet, uninterrupted, bath and I had both Jessica and Michael in tears pleading with me for my agreement.  Feeling a heel (not one of those in the bath), I stuck to my guns for a while, but eventually reached the following compromise.  Michael was instructed to take the dog back where he found him and put a note on his collar, and if an owner couldn’t be traced we would keep him.  Silly me, I didn’t tell the boy what the note should say.  The note, which Jessica kept for the rest of her life, read: ‘If you know this dog, please return him to his owner.’  This was followed by our telephone number.  Michael much later confessed that he had not left Piper at all, but simply brought him back home saying he wouldn’t stop following him.  The dog was well cared for and had clearly been loved.  I often wondered whether something had happened to his original owner, and, if not, what the loss meant to him or her.

Where did he get his name from?  Well, he had been found on a paper round, so what better than the Cockney version of paper?  Piper he was.

Why did the woman training her dog in the art of crossing the road remind me of all this?  Piper was a wanderer, well used to negotiating West End traffic.  He always used zebra crossings.  Off he would go walkabout, on his solitary expeditions, safely trotting across the striped paths at which all the cars had to stop.  One day we had a telephone call (yes, a telephone on a landline, as was usual in those days) from the police.  He had turned up in Hyde Park.  Would we come and collect him?  We explained that he knew his own way home and could safely negotiate the traffic.

My listener was treated to a truncated version of this story and found it very endearing.  Not so endearing, which saddened her, was Piper’s demise.  After we moved to Gracedale Road in Furzedown Piper continued his wanderings, although at this time only when he could escape.  He was by now very old, deaf and blind.  One night we received a call from someone who told us that he had been run over on a zebra crossing.  Michael and I collected the body and buried him in the garden.  A sad end, indeed, but Piper had enjoyed a long and heathly life and perhaps would have chosen this way to go.

In the afternoon we drove to Mat and Tess’s home in Upper Dicker in East Sussex.  Alongside the A23 the limbs of a shattered oak sprawled in homage to the severe winds that have been blowing for weeks now.  Cricket matches were in progress.

For some reason best known to Jackie we went straight to their village shop.  I was puzzled by this because I thought it was Tess’s day off.  What happened next is too important to share a post.  It will therefore receive its own tomorrow.  A clue is that I have not rounded this one off with details of our evening meal.