Condolences

Saturday 10th April 2021

Rufus Pitman texted. He doesn’t think She will last much longer in view of the shock.  I went on with Nigella’s No Knead Black Bread, although I fear I left the salt out. Val telephoned this morning from Moscova, Hastings to condole. He had no idea Prince Philip had done so much for electric frying pans. Memories came flooding back of the Ideal Home Exhibition, which was the supreme gadget show of yesteryear. Advanced Prince Philip would come back from it with, according to his snooty valet, who published a book,  ‘items that might be suitable for a young couple living without staff in a small flat.’ Val wondered if an electric frying pan was the only hope of getting a hot breakfast at Buckingham Palace. No doubt the machine was a menace from the Health and Safety point of view and would nowadays be banned at once.  The Royal couple were lucky to escape electrocution from their bacon and an early demise instead of living to be nearly 100, both of them. Val’s mother was wild for the Ideal Home Exhibition – the crinkle-cut chips machine, the milk frother, the Ritter red cabbage grater – even though all her purchases got the better of her and ended up in the back of a kitchen cupboard. Val had the awful job of trying to clean the Ritter red cabbage grater. It would have been easier in every way to cut up cabbage in the normal way, with a knife.

Edinburgh couldn’t understand why a bottle of whisky was placed in the Queen’s bedroom every evening at Buckingham Palace, although never touched. It turned out it was by order of Queen Victoria 90 years before which nobody had bothered to rescind. The Monarchy survives by endlessly reinventing itself while appearing to remain the same. The King and Queen wanted Princess Elizabeth to marry a chinless wonder from the aristocracy. They were suspicious of Prince Philip. But he was the new blood they needed, rather like Sophie Wessex, someone who knew something about the real world, who had actually had a phase of owning only one suit and no money. The Queen could remain steady, dutiful, unchanging and minimal, which was the perfect foil for Edinburgh to whirl about shaking things up. It was a very odd partnership, if you think about it but I put it on a parr with Her choice of dog. Doesn’t quite add up. Snappy, rude dogs that nip the ankles of visitors. Husband a bit the same. His other great achievement was to be a force for change, a powerful masculine figure, while remaining ‘one step behind’.

There have been complaints about the wall-to-wall TV coverage, even though it’s better than the other thing, surely. But those that mock and sneer miss the point. Royalties are more than themselves. For better or worse they are woven into the fabric of our lives. Everybody will feel the tiniest pinch of loss at the death of Edinburgh and blossom, as likely as not, into memories, as Val and I of the Ideal Home Exhibition, but for others it will be something else.

 

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This Easter

Sunday 4th April 2021

This Easter is a big improvement on the last, although not everybody has got a mother of 97 to be cared for, I do appreciate.

I fetched the Gay Mother back and forth from Church which was ‘fully booked’. There was also Church on Good Friday. Today they were given creme eggs. The Gay Mother had hers at elevenses along with ice-cream. ‘Such a clever idea,’ she said, ‘to make it look like a real egg inside.’ She ate it with the wooden ice-cream spoon to carry on with the real egg idea. She’d never seen a Creme Egg before.

Later we’re facing lamb shanks. I’m not quite sure how after such an elevenses.

I loathe the so-called Prime Minister. He’s dared to speak of the ‘great sacrifice’ of the British people. But you can only choose to make a sacrifice, can’t you? Everything he says is empty blather and contradicts the last thing he said. Not re-assuring at a such a time.

Enough of that. The Gay Mother is doing some Easter telephoning. I can hear her saying, ‘It’s very funny. We have to book our tickets for Church – as if we were going to the theatre.’

The greatest Resurrection has been achieved by Anthony Mottram of Prague but who has rather left Prague and spent three weeks in Egypt. The only boutique-hotel user left on the planet! How is it done? Trust Anthony Mottram to find a way. What’s more – this is so thrilling – in his room there was a treatment and the treatment was fully Covid-safe. You remember the eerie to-and-fro of the treatment in the hotel in Prague which was forever whisking in and out of Harry Rollo and Mercury Mr Kitten’s suite? One minute they were worthy of a treatment, the next not, and so on.

Really they should have been awarded a treatment to compensate for all their treatment suffering.

Anthony Mottram’s treatment stayed put, needless to say.

 

Anthony Mottram's Treatment

Anthony Mottram’s Treatment

The Gay Mother's Church Flowers for Easter - as Always

The Gay Mother’s Church Flowers for Easter – as Always

 

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Main Events

Thursday 25th March 2021

Good – I thought it was only the 23rd.

Stirring speeches are made by the Royal Family about the wonderful coming-together of our communities in this time of strife. Me – my breakthrough has been realising that those little packets of herbs you get from the mart are a good source of rubber bands. I had a great brainwave one day that I could close opened packets of dry goods such as Organic Brown Spelt with a rubber band if I but had any rubber bands. As it turns out, there are many more rubber bands of different sizes to be harvested from items bought in the mart than you might think. It just goes to show what you can achieve if you apply your mind to something.

Otherwise I have been preoccupied with a tube of tomato paste. Laura Malcolm is a great recipist – I just copy her. So Marcus Wareing’s lamb shanks with saffron called for tomato paste. In my life I must have never finished hundreds of tubes of tomato paste. I carried this one back from the Gay Mother’s and ordered more lamb shanks, this time a different recipe though but still requiring tomato paste, to be followed by a Bolognese, made to Angus Willis’s late mother’s recipe, which is plain but great and with tomato paste. Well, I was over-bolog-ed and am now in a lasagne extension period. That must be finished up by tomorrow when the Nizam’s entourage arrives with Robert Nevil and we go Hindu – their building work is still not finished. It would be quicker to build the Taj Mahal.

The trouble is I was so clogged and bowed down with red meat, I had to buy some cod. The leftover piece I made into fishcakes. They must be finished up too. Fishcakes followed by lasagne isn’t a menu, though – so what to do?

Maybe passers-by would accept the fishcakes, while I work on the lasagne.

Another drama was I was repairing some torn button holes on a duvet cover in situ on the bedroom floor.  On regaining the drawing room to replace the needle and thread in the sewing box, guess what! The needle is missing. Somewhere on the stairs lurks that needle. I’ve just thought – what if the Nizam is pierced by it? One day, despite all the vac-ing in the world, it will turn up in someone’s foot or eye.

 

My Tomato Paste: Still Not Finished

My Tomato Paste: Still Not Finished

My Rubber-bank Valhalla

My Rubber-bank Valhalla

Surprise Fishcakes

Surprise Fishcakes

Enforced Lamb Shanks

Enforced Lamb Shanks

Bolognese made with Angus Willis's Late Mother's Recipe

Bolognese made with Angus Willis’s Late Mother’s Recipe

 

 

 

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I Emailed the Prime Minister

Sunday 21st March 2021

Harry Rollo said, ‘It’s had this effect on me.’ A manager asked him if he’d like to preview the layout for a performance. There is to be a performance, apparently, but with nobody there, of course, not even any performers quite possibly. Harry said, ‘But what’s the point? The Government have decreed the layout. What can I do about it?’

Where is the Government? All my feeds, including my lovely alternatives, have been switched off since Christmas. I look at Facebook and Instagram, and the Stock Prices, of course. You’d have thought if there were a Government and a Prime Minister it would be apparent. All the important developments have got through, such as the Duke of Edinburgh leaving hospital, Harry and Meghan (ugh!) and the events on Clapham Common. But of the Government and the Prime Minister, not a word. The Gay Mother says the Government is trying to ban demonstrations but how could this be true? When I question her she says, ‘You’ll have to find out for yourself.’ Well, that would mean switching on the Thought Machine and someone would be bound to say, ‘Lockd…n’ and I’d have to switch off again.

If you go out and about, you’ll see signs everywhere saying you should be at home. ‘Stay home. Save lives’ – they even have it in orange lights on motorways where normally it says, ‘Debris in the road’ or ‘Accident.’ It’s a little confusing because obviously if you’re reading these signs you’re not at home. But we get the main idea, which seems to be that we are to be kept alive. The Government policy is that the entire population is to be kept alive. You might wonder whether it is intended that this is achieved by a person remaining at home but there’s a certain disturbing undertow to the slogan which threatens that if you leave your home you’ll kill people. Possibly it matters less that you might stay at home and die there as well as killing everybody else in your home including staff.

But let’s not quibble. I don’t think there’s any reasonable doubt that the Government policy is to keep us alive. The thing is it’s usual for Government policies to be questioned, even criticised or denounced. So why not this one? It’s very ambitious for a start and also somewhat vague. How long must we stay alive for, for instance? Indefinitely? Or only for as long as restrictions remain in place, after which we’ll be free to die whenever we feel like it? It would be nice to know. A more fruitful line of attack, though, is What for? What are we being kept alive for? You may think this is a silly question. Debo began her article for the Graph on tiaras, ‘What are tiaras for?’ But at least the Government has never legislated that everybody must wear a tiara. But now everybody must remain alive so it’s only fair to ask, ‘What for?’ Is it so that we can mill about in the park in the afternoons in a rather desperate way along with everybody else because this is the only place we’re allowed to go apart from our own homes? But even that is something of a concession. Really the idea seems to be that staying at home is not simply the means by which we stay alive but the main purpose. We’re being kept alive so that we can stay at home. It’s all a bit circular and seems unlikely to be productive in the long term. Surely, eventually the population will turn to mush?

So I emailed the Prime Minister to ask. Royston said it’s a waste of time. His sister, of course, we know, but will that make any difference?

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Cardboard

Wednesday 17th March 2021

I’ve been at the Gay Mother’s for two weeks. The main thing is the cardboard boxes – all the deliveries. One every hour or so, either what she’s ordered, or I’ve ordered for her or tributes sent by devotees.

We had her Birthday. People queued at the gate as she took 97 years.  We had one and half porch coffee mornings and one porch tea with our man who manages. The Gay Mother and I were crouched at the drawing room border, while the visitor was lodged in the porch. It seemed good form as an arrangement. But no doubt holes could be picked in it by those minded to do so.

I made a lemon and elderflower drizzle cake from a mad recipe by Nigella. A visitor then conveyed her own lemon drizzle and Cousin Cornella sent a good but shop lemon and elderflower cake. So all the cakes were the same, except they weren’t when it came to it and we ate them all.

Then there was a vaccine fest and we were buoyant. I took an Astra and the Gay Mother had her second Pfizer – at the hospital. This is a terrifying place, being a vast, looming Stalinist block on a vertical site. The vaccination home was amidst a maze of crumby outbuildings. The 15 minute waiting, in case of collapse, was in a cafe, where drinks and buns were on sale and being consumed in the room. Doctors present in scrubs having just been injected themselves. So it must have been all right. But all other cafes and restaurants in the land are strictly takeaway only, eat-in absolutely not. When we made to leave through the marked exit, a volunteer leapt up and said the steps were too steep and we must go back the way we’d come. So one-way system out of the window as well.

After that, it was TV and menus with gardening. The Gay Mother wanted to know what ‘woke’ means. Copies of The Tablet and the Church Times were piling up everywhere. Hard to get rid of them and even harder the cardboard boxes. The recycling system of the authorities in the Far West is labyrinthine – only a certain size taken, otherwise must be self-transported to the dump. Besides the Gay Mother envisages a bonfire, for which cardboard will be vital to get it going. But a bonfire of the actual cardboard, of course, out of the question.

Eventually the house will fill up with cardboard entirely, in some Gormenghast kind of way.

The Gay Mother was furious about ‘Terror’ and it had to be switched off. ‘It’s all made up. Nobody knew what happened to them. Only some Eskimos made a few comments.’ I said, ‘But it’s a TV drama.’ ‘No, no,’ she said, ‘It must be true or not at all.’ Her choice of viewing was Line of Duty for the prime Saturday 9pm slot. The plot’s a nightmare, she said, but was tuning in with alacrity all the same. We were bored to death by the Harry and Meghan interview. I inflicted The Crown on her because you can always re-view that when there’s nothing else on and it will cheer you up. ‘Who’s that supposed to be?’ she kept saying. In the end she conceded it was ‘quite entertaining’ although plainly she didn’t believe a word of it.

The Gay Mother is 97. It’s not right that she should be left alone for months on end.

Birthday Tulips Sent to the Gay Mother

Birthday Tulips Sent to the Gay Mother

Visitor's Lemon Drizzle Competing with Nigella and a Shop One in Lemon and Elderflower

Visitor’s Lemon Drizzle Competing with Nigella and a Shop One in Lemon and Elderflower

A Selection of the Gay Mother's Birthday Cards for 97 Years

A Selection of the Gay Mother’s Birthday Cards for 97 Years

 

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Units

Thursday 11th March 2021

Have you noticed? They said that the vaccine is really a computer programme and that shortly we will all be re-booted. Poor Little Rich Gays will turn into people with ‘mates’ who chase ‘birds’ and play darts. We’ll be holidaying in Widmerpool.

Well, it’s not turned out quite like that. But those little calling cards they inscribe for you at the vaccine dispensaries…. such lovely handwriting… People photograph them and put them on social media. Robert Nevil’s an Astra Zeneca, so is Rufus Pitman. Sebastian Archer’s an Astra Zeneca, Merle Barr’s an Astra Zeneca, and me, Adrian Edge, I’m an Astra Zeneca. What about Moira McMatron and Beamish O’Halloran? They’re Astra Zenecas (early ones). Beamish’s daughter invented the vaccine. They got a Press Preview, possibly. Now Aunt Lavinia, Laura Malcolm and the Gay Mother – they’re Pfizers. Do they have a weeny beam of advantage? I think so. That ‘Pf’ and then the ‘z’ are so exotic. Even though Astra’s an Astra, the Astra Zenecas, I can’t help feeling, would be an excellent industrial family living in a suburban mansion perhaps built by the latest architect but the Pfizers go back generations, have several estates and aren’t double-barrelled. They’re a bit like those English families whose names begin with two lower case ffs. The ffynes, the ffiskes…

No matter.There’s not much to be done about it now. We are our vaccines and that’s it.

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Paradise

Sunday 7th March 2021

It’s not much mentioned. I can’t think why. Untroubled by ripples, one day blending evenly with the next, breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner, menus in the morning, the shops, otherwise deliveries as we’d always craved. Service at last. Everything paid for, except for those who don’t qualify for payments but somebody’s got to be in Hell, I suppose. The quiet life was once a dream. Oh to slow down, it was said universally. Why so many functions? Racking outfit worry. One dinner after another, with no time to exercise to work off the dinners, so careering downhill. Bored to death in the theatre. Wounded by the slightest word flicked by someone met at drinks. The horror of the world and the cost, resources draining away. What if others were doing better, had selected more successfully from the catwalks, had the knack of not going off the rails just as about to serve, were jetting more, had got better tickets, or even any tickets? Even if spared, there was the horrible responsibility of having to self-diarise, to pitch one’s life up to a suitable level, doing it all oneself. Now none of that.  Just this perfect smoothness, every day exactly the same, no striving or effort required, perfectly cared for, a miraculous uniformity, everybody having exactly the same life. Extraordinary that it has not been remarked upon.  This is paradise. This is what it will be like, at the finish, when our days are done and we are carried up to the gates to be judged and allotted our place. In paradise, boxed sets on tap in the evening, even all day, total availability, nobody left out. One perfect day rolling on to the next, for ever. Except we’re having it now. Heaven on Earth which we were told was out of the question has come to be. What could be better?

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Ducks

Tuesday 2nd March 2021

We went to Regent’s Park. As you know it has emerged from this Time of Wrong as the greatest of the parks, unrivalled in its architectural theatre and range. The sweep to the west towards the American Embassy residence is wild and vast, then there are the avenues, the circles, the formal lawns landscaped with hedges, the rose garden, the dry garden and the lakes – with ducks. Harry Rollo knew all the ducks and said there was a special place where a rare bird could sometimes be seen, not a duck. I explained that Royston King was trying to find a use of an area to the east of the Rose Garden that needs to be found a use for. ‘No humans,’ Harry said at once. ‘Think of all the harm they’ve done. But badgers, foxes, otters and… wolves.‘ Superb.

Anyway, we looked at the ducks. I thought I’d grasped them from the visit to the Serpentine a week or two before. But it seemed not. There are gulls too, of different types. The duck that sticks in my mind is the eider duck because of the connection with eiderdowns. But it doesn’t look a bit like an eiderdown. It’s a stark black and white.

We saw a heron standing on a lawn. I thought they were shy and shunned human company. Apparently not. A lot of people look like herons. But hardly anyone looks like any other sort of bird, except eagles – odd.

As we were regaining our machines for departure, Harry said, ‘Listen.’ He’d heard a bird singing and knew it and found it, high in a tree. It was a mistle thrush. I’ve never seen a mistle thrush before.

Next I went with Merle Barr to Hackney Marshes. Surely the Krays were busy there, burying people.The disused filtration beds are a feature. They filtered out cholera, you know. It took some time to find the special bird viewing facility with shutters to lift for viewing. But most of the shutters had disappeared so you just looked through the square in the wooden panel. I don’t know why you couldn’t have just looked without any structure. The birds were quite far away. More ducks, but not belonging to any of the categories previously encountered. Maddening. Maybe they weren’t ducks at all. V. busy diving.

We saw Merle’s past residence and the block of flats opposite from where a man flashed. He was very unattractive unfortunately as well as a fool, flashing from his home address in full view. Merle had the Police round and the resident said it was a friend of his, come round for a bit of flashing before going away again. The Police were certain it wouldn’t happen again and it didn’t.

On the next visit to Regent’s Park when the newly vaccinated Royston King came over, we decided we’d had enough of it. Royston didn’t like the idea of the wolves at all. I said, ‘Let’s tour to the east.’  We machined past the Nash terraces. I said, ‘They’re fake really. Just plaster.’ Royston didn’t like my remark. I didn’t mean to harm the terraces. I think the boldness of all that drama of pillars, pediments, statues mounted, done in plaster is fabulous.

Those terraces are one of the wonders of the world.

I was right that our tour would be rewarding. After the Caledonian Park Clock Tower which Royston had funded the restoration of, and which stands in the middle of what was once a huge cattle market, we viewed Pentonville Prison with the added bonus of the warders’ quarters right by. The remarkable thing was Pentonville Prison was flying the Gay Flag. I wonder which Gay inmates they’ve got. After that it was Tony Blair’s old house in Richmond Crescent, where Cherie opened the front door having just got out of bed on the morning after the 1997 election and was seen by the entire world. Then the strange Egyptian styling of the houses in Richmond Crescent. Finally a surprise. Whose house was this? Can you guess? Royston got it straight away, in fact before we got there. Boris Johnson. Royston said, ‘I’ve seen enough.’ But there was one last thing. My Covid-19 neighbourhood vaccination centre. Royston said, ‘Why don’t you ask for a vaccination?’ So for the 4th time I entered into negotiations with the volunteer on the door. ‘Royston’s had his,’ I protested, ‘and he’s younger than me.’ ‘But I’m fat and black,’ Royston bellowed and everybody in earshot turned to ash.

An Eider Duck in Regent's Park - not a Bit like an Eiderdown

An Eider Duck in Regent’s Park – not a Bit like an Eiderdown

Another Eider Duck

Another Eider Duck

The Middlesex Filtration Beds, Hackney Marshes

The Middlesex Filtration Beds, Hackney Marshes

Hackney Marshes - Merle knew it Like the Back of Her Hand

Hackney Marshes – Merle knew it Like the Back of Her Hand

What is this Hackney Marsh bird - Much Given to Diving ?

What is this Hackney Marsh bird – Much Given to Diving ?

Caledonian Park Clock Tower, Restored by Royston King

Caledonian Park Clock Tower, Restored by Royston King

The Gay Flag Flying from Pentonville Prison, Signalling their Gay inmates, but whom?

The Gay Flag Flying from Pentonville Prison, Signalling their Gay inmates, but whom?

 

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Various Phases

Sunday 15th February 2021

Borderline of existence. For a week I’ve done nothing. How is it possible? I’ve managed it.  A philosophical conundrum surely. People keep ringing up: ‘Why haven’t you returned my call?’ What happens to the time? It roars by as always but really…. Somehow I’m not up before 11. Supermart and back. The day’s over. Time for drinks and Call my Agent.

I keep thinking it’s only me. But it’s everybody. How could this be? I have all news feeds except the Stock prices switched off. I won’t listen. Aunt Lavinia says the News is everybody disagreeing. Which is good. The Gay Mother has heard that a black curate at All Hallows by the Tower, which was where Aunt Olive worshipped (so keep off there) has done a tweet and there’s been terrible outrage, even though he apologised. The Tweet said that Captain Tom in the aura around him was White Imperialism – something like that. Royston phoned and said, ‘He couldn’t help being White.’ He should know, being black himself.

Three weeks ago or so I felt so desperate. I couldn’t see how I’d ever get through all the menus I’ve got planned. How to keep up with Laura Malcolm, who’s progressed to a self-fermented barley loaf requiring some grains to be pre-soaked for a week? The loaf, finally, resembled the late Lord Goodman whom I saw once in person at St John’s Smith Square at some kind of fund-raising concert in the late 70s we weren’t supposed to be at or not in those clothes at least. There were looks. Important ladies accompanying Lord G (where they Fag Hags?) cast looks. But Lord G covered up for Lord Boothby re: the Krays (such dears) and fixed it that the Mirror lost the Libel case. Wasn’t he just a weeny bit criminal? So why did we have to have those women looking at us like that all those years ago?  Anthony Mottram and I were taken by his brother. Something to do with the Royal College of Mu.

I was breathless all the time. How was I ever going to get Marcus Wareing’s Brined Pork Fillet with braised cabbage and Quince Sauce on the table? And that white cabbage in the cold area – been there for weeks. I bought all those elements for Nigella’s New Orleans Coleslaw but had to throw them away. Have now re-bought. The white cabbage still looms in the cold area.

What’s so depressing is the actual eating, after all that kitchen slavery, is over in ten minutes and even in that time I’m trying to make inroads into the clearing up. Getting ahead. Will I ever have a moment to myself?

All this cabbage though, especially raw – I can’t digest it. But we didn’t live through two world wars to waste cabbage.

So that phase of frenzy lead to another. I had a risotto three nights in a row. It got nastier and nastier – mealy and dry. Then the red cabbage in the Austrian style. Industrial scale of supply – but what do you do with a red cabbage?  Even the smallest one is huge.

Well, at the end of that – and did I mention I’m trying to lose weight – my digestion was wrecked for good. I was picking at my food. The white pudding fried in slices to go with the red cabbage in the Austrian style tasted of utter drear. The Gay Mother said, ‘Haven’t you got any smoked salmon? How about a bit of plain boiled rice?’ ‘Rice! I can’t touch it. Swollen and bloated for days.’

I’m only just beginning to recover now. It’s just not natural to be eating one’s own cooking all the time. The digestion wards will be crammed for generations for sure.

Down with it all and I blame the Government.

Laura Malcolm's Lord Goodman Loaf

Laura Malcolm’s Lord Goodman Loaf

 

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Out on the Streets

Tuesday 26th January 2021

So we’ve been turned out to wander the streets. Walks or pedalling all that’s allowed. With Royston King I went to Welsh Harp Reservoir and then almost as far as Wembley Stadium. Tremendous mud. Then we crossed fields towards Fryent Park. I think it was West Hendon Playing Fields in fact, but it could have been wilds near the Artic or remote New Zealand. There were some crows, or perhaps rooks. The trees full of birds were actually ashes whose dead clusters of leaves look like a rookery from afar.

The path to Fryent Park was impossible. First World War standards of mud, churned and endless. So we left that for another day. Royston said it was one of the largest open spaces in London, easily the size of Regent’s Park. At Welsh Harp Reservoir, Royston said, there had been drainage to create a wildlife sanctuary but it hadn’t worked. He’s not on the Committees for these places but sees them from the inside, of course. Any tour with him is exclusive.

He said my machine needed replacing. His is new and has an electric boost so he whizzed ahead on hills. But the bell fell off and we couldn’t find it, going back a bit over our route. We went past the Neasden Esplanade, a photograph of which always accompanied the Sid and Doris Bonkers column in Private Eye in the old days. They supported Neasden F.C. In fact they were the only supporters of that club which didn’t even exist.

Last week I accompanied Robert Nevil and the Nizam on a tour of Clerkenwell – very much two steps behind, like the Duke of Edinburgh, I can tell you. At one point the vista was entirely occupied by Peabody Buildings which was thrilling because we’d seen quite a few sets of these before on earlier walks. In Clerkenwell Road there is a fine building in the Sloane Square Dutch style but better – about 1880. The Holborn something or other. It’s been there all these years, passed by me almost every week but never seen before. We moved into Hatton Garden which gave rise to mention of the Hatton Garden Heist of only a few years ago. I was explaining to the Nizam and that it was turned into a TV drama. So there’s something else that they could watch. They’d been watching Legend, about the Krays. So I watched it too. I do agree with Ronnie Kray in his attitude to life, although no good came of it.

There’s so much going on. Really there is. Also in Hatton Garden is a partial Wren church with some blue dolls glued to the outside. The Bluecoats. But on the corner an excellent blue plaque commemorating the location where Sir Maxim invented the Maxim machine gun. At last, something really useful. I could think of quite a few people who would benefit just now from a riddling with bullets. We were engaged trying to translate from the Italian a plaque to those drowned in a Second World War shipwreck. The sacristan appeared and insisted we enter the Church. All the usual precautions, but he was coughing in the outside lobby and then again when the visit was over. Nobody coughs nowadays. Italians settled in Clerkenwell and must have done well for they erected a Church with a huge kind of parking lot before the Altar for the parking of numerous ruthlessly gold items. Otherwise the Church was blazing cerulean with red carpets.

The very next day I joined Anthony Mottram and we roamed through Acton. Wonder! Another Peabody – this time in the Queen Anne Style with extravagant lunettes but set in a depressing sea of tarmac. After a while I realised we were near Bedford Park. It’s actually only a few streets of prime Norman Shaw (?). Very complicated Arts and Crafts houses, all different. We went into the Church there of St Michael and All Angels, where I once heard a Matthew Passion. On that occasion it was freezing within and the tenor had pyjamas on underneath his concert wear. Now it was very snug. Perhaps they got a legacy and can heat, especially in the present time with nobody there.

Welsh Harp Reservoir - Wilds within London

Welsh Harp Reservoir – Wilds within London

Prime Peabody in Clerkenwell

Prime Peabody in Clerkenwell

Queen Anne Grandeur of Peabody in Acton

Queen Anne Grandeur of Peabody in Acton

Clerkenwell: An Antique Vista

Clerkenwell: An Antique Vista: these Victorian Commercial/Industrial buildings Looking Better and Better as Time Passes

Farringdon Road: Victorian Gothic, Very Good of its Kind

Farringdon Road: Victorian Gothic, Very Good of its Kind – with Peabody Van by Chance!

Clerkenwell Georgian

Clerkenwell Georgian

Sir Maxim and His Machine Gun

Sir Maxim and His Machine Gun

The Office of the Holborn Union Board of Guardians 1885. They Administered Workhouses. I don't Think This building Actually was a Workhouse. Now Flats.

The Office of the Holborn Union Board of Guardians 1885. They Administered Workhouses. I don’t Think This building Actually was a Workhouse. Now Flats.

The Italian Church Clerkenwell

The Italian Church Clerkenwell

The Italian Church Clerkenwell

The Italian Church Clerkenwell

Bedford Park, Chiswick

Bedford Park, Chiswick: So Many Bits

Bedford Park, Chiswick

Bedford Park, Chiswick: Minimal Symmetry

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