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Before we leave for New Milton for my London lunch trips, Jackie always asks me if I’ve got ‘all (my) bits’ with me. One was missing this morning. It was my mobile phone. A search among all the usual places revealed nothing. Jackie rang the number several times. Silence ensued. We then tried the car. A muffled ring-tone suggested that the device was under one of the seats. It wasn’t. Eventually I spotted it lodged between the front seats. On its side. Barely visible, and needing great dexterity to remove it from its hiding place.
I set back the meeting time with Norman at Tas in The Cut, and caught a later train.
This still gave me time to investigate Waterloo Millennium Green, where people enjoyed a lunch break in the sun and,
a month earlier, I had seen scaffolding being erected. The huge temporary Old Vic stage had been completely dismantled and removed, leaving the dried grass to members of the basking public
It was after I took this last shot that a woman, whom I had not photographed, screamed at me and called me a pervert, and I decided to show a little discretion and walk away.
Norman and I enjoyed good conversation and lunch. My choice of main course was the best battered halibut I have ever tasted, followed by a excellent cold rice pudding, the name of which escapes me. As usual, we shared a bottle of the house red wine, served at the perfect temperature.
Especially when I take the slightly later train home, I tend to sit in the quiet carriage and avoid groups of businessmen. For those who are unaware, this carriage is one where passengers are not permitted to use mobile phones and must quieten other electronic quiet carriage, devices. This doesn’t deter everyone from talking at the tops of their voices.
Shortly before we were due to depart a gentleman rushed into the seat opposite me, spreading various items of luggage across the table. He then proceeded to have, interspersed with mouthfuls of salad-spilling burger, a work conversation at the top of his voice.
I gave him five minutes, which, in the circumstances I thought rather generous, and certainly more than some of the protagonists in the Dick Francis novel I was trying to read would have allowed. Not wishing actually to interrupt his flow, either of talk, or bits of burger, I tapped on the table and pointed to the signs, one of which was above his head. He shrugged and continued. An interruption became necessary. ‘You must comply with this’, I said, ‘that is why we sit in here’. So sotto voce as to be barely audible, he continued his conversation. When he had finished he apologised and politely called me sir.
Jackie collected me at New Milton and drove me home where, this evening, I needed no further sustenance.