On this much calmer day, with a significant diversion, I made a tour of Morden Park. The white cloud in evidence today was perhaps fulfilling the promise we have that the jet stream mentioned two days ago has finally exhausted itself. Grey cloud, heavy rain, and the disappearance of the patches of blue later belied this. A postman was cycling along one of the postpersons’ regular routes through to Hillcross Avenue. I walked up the footpath to the London Road side of the park and along to the registry office where a wedding was in progress. Shirtsleeves and skimpy dresses were on display among the guests. I stopped and told them about the goose-pimpled bride I had seen in the pouring rain happily enduring the photographer’s attention on 29th. June (see post). They clearly felt they were fortunate. At this point I left the park, crossed London Road and continued on to Rougemont Avenue, where, at number 37, my parents had enjoyed their last London home.
As I stood outside the house, a very attractive and elegant young woman opened the front door, locked it, and came down the steps making for her car. I told her what I was doing there and said what a shame it was that she was on her way out because I had hoped to photograph the back garden. She told me she had only moved in a week ago and that the previous owners had landscaped the garden beautifully. I mentioned that my parents had, in retirement in the 1980s, created the terracing, having mixed their own concrete. That was it. I got a result. She smilingly invited me inside, unlocked the door and took me through to the back of the house. The first thing I noticed was that there was no formica on the banisters. I ran my hand along the carved struts and told her about Dad’s obsession.
When he retired Dad got seriously into DIY. He was also seriously into the laminated surfacing which he was convinced would make everything easier to clean. And I do mean everything. Anything made of wood was carefully covered in beige and brown formica. Even those struts were sheathed in two-tone carefully applied laminate. As the new owner unlocked the back door I pointed to the picture window to the side and told her of my quip during one of our Sunday lunches. Gazing through the window I had said: ‘Dad, it’s a pity you can’t get transparent formica.’ Puzzled, he asked me why. ‘Well, then you could cover the windows’, I replied. Guffaws all round, including, of course, from Dad.
We stood in the garden and I took this photograph for Mum. As we left the house and the young woman finally got to her car, the last thing she said to me was: ‘Tell your Mum I will look after her memories’. Elizabeth will make sure she reads this.
The Sunday lunches were a feature of our elder children’s lives. On most of these days we would turn up, unannounced, for a veritable feast. Oval plates, which the proprietors of The Martin Cafe (14th. May post) would have envied, were piled with roast meat, usually lamb, Yorkshire pudding, and all the trimmings; always followed by apple pie and custard, with, if you had room for it, jam tart made with the surplus pastry. Matthew still calls white pepper Grandma pepper. Although now I don’t know how we managed it, there was a plentiful salad tea before we went home fully satisfied, not to say stuffed.
(In January 2014, I discovered a photograph taken in December 1985 at the famous meal table. Mum and Louisa are having a discussion about an apparently questionable item hidden from view. I sit on the other side of our daughter. Uncle Norman is opposite, and we see the backs of Joseph and his girlfriend, who obscures Sam from view. Dad’s initial formica efforts can be seen. Jessica must have taken the picture.)
Returning to the park I continued my circumperambulation, passing the car park where my parents left their car before taking their own walks in this ancient landscape. One day Mum had gone walking on her own. Dad must have been at work. When she returned for the car, it was gone. She walked home, thinking that Dad had perhaps come and collected it. He hadn’t. Some young men were caught engaged in a burglary. The car was to be their getaway vehicle. Their misfortune was my parents’ good luck.
In the early evening Jackie and I drove to The Firs, stopping for a meal at The Farmer’s Home, a pub in Durley. Until we arrived in deepest Hampshire the evening was clear and bright. The nearer we got to our destination the darker the sky became. Eventually we met more heavy rain. The meal was very good, but, as you have already been treated to Mum’s Sunday lunch I will not describe it.
When we left the pub mist was rising from all the fields around.