Early this morning I did a bit more work on elderly colour slides with which to amplify my residential history. The Soho years spanned 1975 to 1980. This is when Jessica, Michael and I lived at 2 Horse & Dolphin Yard. This mews flat backed onto Gerard Street in the very heart of Chinatown. From our sitting room we could peer through two windows into a kitchen that appeared also to contain bunk beds. I photographed the scene in November 1976. Chopping of food took place all through the night. This somewhat interfered with sleep. In the early ours of one morning Jessica lost patience and rather politely called out asking the choppers to desist. The reply was: ‘We’ve been here fifty years. If you don’t like it, move.’
Becky, who had spent many weekends there as a child, took her own daughter, Flo, to see the place in June 2008, and sent me this photograph from her mobile phone. That of course would not have been possible in those days.
In the spring of 1980 we bought and moved into a semi-detached house in Gracedale Road, SW16, where we lived until December 1987, by then joined by Sam and Louisa. Behind this photograph taken in 1984 can be seen the makeshift bookshelves featured in ‘Chinese Boxes’. It was in December 1987 that we left London for Newark. I will continue the story tomorrow.
A little later this morning, leaving Tony to spend the day alone before returning to his Essex home, Jackie drove us through severe rain and spray to Sanderstead where Michael and Heidi hosted a family day attended by Emily, Oliver, Alice, Louisa, Errol, Jessica, Imogen, Mat, Tess, Jackie and me. This was the last exchange of Christmas presents this year, except for those we have brought back for Becky, Ian, and Flo who were unable to come. Heidi produced some splendid salads, whilst Michael baked a delicious bacon joint and whole salmon. Trifle and mince pies complemented Alice’s splendid gingerbread house which was a particular hit with Jessica and Imogen. Various wines and beers were on offer.
As usual the older female cousins had an exhausting time playing with the younger two whilst the rest of us enjoyed more sedate conversation. A surprise hit was my labelling machine that I had brought along so that Jessica and Imogen, to whom Jackie and I had given identical boxes of Derwent coloured pencils, could make their own stickers for their presents. This delighted Alice, who first helped the little ones label every one of their gifts, then made progressively ruder messages for them to adhere to the other adults.