In The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain this morning I finished reading Paul Langford’s ‘The Eighteenth Century’, and progressed to begin ‘Revolution and the Rule of Law’ by Christopher Harvie.
It was a beautiful balmy day as I walked the two fords loop peaking at Forest Road. Sheep grazed against the backdrop of a mast that is the reason we are so fortunate with internet and mobile phone signals where we live. An uninterrupted reception is rare in the New Forest. I was later to appreciate just how lucky we are.
Through a gap in the hedge on Furzey Gardens road could be seen a horse favoured with a fly sheet. Perhaps its uncovered companion stayed close for shelter from the pestilential insects.
As I Ieft the first ford and was about to veer left towards Newtown, I fell in with a tall, elegant, lively, and attractive South African woman named Yolanda, and her elderly dog, Trigger. She was making her way to her place of employment at the far end of the bridle path. I chose to change my route and accompany her. Yolanda is a freelance live-in companion for elderly people. We naturally spoke about Social Work. She has no signal where she is living.
A golden labrador that now ignores my passing, barked with intent through gaps in its fencing. It clearly wasn’t Trigger happy. Being hard of hearing, Yolanda’s old boy quietly ignored the noisy young whipper-snapper.
I was delighted to note the name of the house in which my conversationalist was working. Two days ago, a district nurse, driving up and down Running Hill, had asked me if I knew Skymer. She was the person I had been unable to direct on that day, and was a long way from her goal. There, today, at the entrance to the splendid house at which we had stopped, was the sign, Skymers. Yolanda confirmed that the nurse had indeed arrived, but it had taken her a long time to find the place.
To cap this I was able to achieve 100% success rate in my traffic directing role. As two separate drivers waited their turn for my information, one for Tom’s Lane and the other for Furzey Gardens, the man who had kindly deferred to an elderly woman, said, with a smile: ‘You’ve got a queue’.
It was not until I worked on the Ondekoza photographs yesterday that I realised the large Romeo and Juliettas for the Soho Festival cigar smoking contest had coincidentally been provided by a supplier called Knight. The idea was that you smoked one of these lengthy monsters for as long as you could without losing the ash. When I entered in 1977, I actually had the longest ash, but mine was bent. I came second to a woman whose was straight. You can imagine the ribaldry that provoked.
When we lived in Horse and Dolphin Yard during the 1970s this was a new and popular event, and, held in September usually enjoyed perfect weather. A Punch and Judy show in 1976 gave entertainment for all ages. One photograph I took of the audience featured on the cover of the Social Care Association’s monthly magazine. Becky, on this occasion, was distracted from the puppets by the sight of my lens. A little boy nearby, was engaged in that familiar comforting exercise of thumb-sucking combined with ear-twiddling. Another had lost one of his front incisors.
The first family member to have the courage to enter a spaghetti eating competition was Michael.
As the dry spaghetti was ladled onto his plate, he looked as if he was about to bite off more that he could chew. The thin coating of tomato sauce, looking no more appetising than ketchup, didn’t seem to do much to improve the digestion. My son soon got stuck in. He and one of his rivals seemed to think the nearer the dish they got, the better their chances.
An elderly gentleman, eating at a leisurely pace, had probably just come along for his dinner.
The 39th Soho Festival is to be held this September. Details can be obtained from the Soho Society at 55 Dean St., W1.
For my evening meal I enjoyed Jackie’s delicious chicken curry, savoury rice, and samosas so much that I paid scant attention to the last of the Terre de Galets which was meant to accompany it.