Porridge In The Bedroom


Soon after midday Jackie drove me from a waterlogged Hampshire to a dry Morden.  I then walked to Jessops in Wimbledon and back.  I still needed advice on how many shots I had left on my Scandisk memory card.  Discovering the fault in my camera in Hedge End Jessops had diverted my attention from the reason I had gone there in the first place.  Being told I still had more than 2,500 left was the first bit of good news.  The second was my good fortune in having chosen to go to Wimbledon rather than Colliers Wood.  Having decided to give the mud of Morden Hall Park a miss after my exploits earlier in the week, especially as I still haven’t bought any wellies, I was amazed to learn that that branch closed down last week on account of escalating rents.  I had been saved a wasted journey.

The streets are beginning to be carpeted by autumn leaves.  My route is festooned with estate agents boards, one of which is that of Hawes and Company, which put me in mind of the owner of the maisonette in Stanton Road in which my parents raised five children.  Hawes was the agent to whom Mum paid the weekly rent for our home.  The owner, Mr. Gabouli, was an Italian immigrant who carried out all the maintenance himself.  To me, a child in the 1940s, he seemed very elderly, but I don’t suppose he was anything like my current age.  He wore a knitted jumper full of holes and seemed to have paint everywhere which would never come off.  His specs were held together with masking tape.  The lenses were speckled with so much pigment and plaster I wondered how he could see anything through them.  One day he mislaid them and we had to search them out among his tools and paintbrushes.  All this was made a little more complicated by his accent which was so strong that we couldn’t understand what he said.

Only once in the sixteen years we lived there, was the place decorated throughout.  It seemed to take forever.  I’m not sure whether our landlord brought in helpers for this job, which in reality was probably completed fairly quickly.  Chris and I shared a small bedroom containing bunk beds at the time.  My memory suggests that we all camped in there for a while.  Was cooking somehow done in there, or was it done in the kitchen and carried through?  I’m not sure now, but I expect when Mum reads this she will clarify the situation.  I do remember a saucepan of creamy, steaming porridge consumed around my bed.

We finished the day with a fine salad accompanied by Wickham Vintage Selection 2010.


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