Wednesday, 22nd June, 2022

[Day 828]

Today, I felt that I needed to do some of my weekly shopping as last week we had missed out on shopping by going on our trip to Chester. I was a little short of ready cash but thought I would go to the ATM in the walls of an adjacent supermarket. Here I discovered that both of the ATMs were either empty or malfunctioning so I did a little tour of two local places where I might access an ATM but with no success. So I went around my regular supermaret only buying the bare essentials to make sure that I had the cash reserves to cover the bill. Later on today, our University of Winchester friend was coming to see us and stay for a couple of nights. It was also the day when our domestic help comes to give our house the ‘once over’ so we were looking forward with some anticipation to the hours ahead. The day was delightfully warm and Meg and strolled down to the park knowing that time was a little limited but aiming to be back before our friend was scheduled to arrive just after 12.00pm midday. We had had a really good laugh earlier in the day when I was explaining to our domestic help the incident that occurred to me when I was a university student. I had discovered a small lump in my neck which was probably a little blocked cyst or something similar. I explained that I had somehow got myself into the office of the Professor of Surgery at the University and he agreed to operate on me in a few days time. This he did but as I recovered from the minor operation it became evident that he had ‘missed’ whatever it was he was meant to be removing. When I presented myself again in his office to show that the operation site had missed the cyst by over an inch, he just stared me in the eyes and told me just to forget all about it – which I did. After all, he was the Professor of Surgery but seemed to me to be in his 80’s although according to the web, he was only 61 at the time. He retired from his post some five years after I saw him. I next bumped into him when I was a Census enumerator for the 1971 Census and he was on my patch. I subsequently learnt that he as a lifelong bachelor, he had a reputation for lively dinner parties, made even more so by a pet monkey in his possession which used to swing from the chandelier in his dining room urinating across the table as his guests were eating their dinner. When his guests remonstrated, he used to argue that the urine was biologically pure and they shouldn’t make such a fuss. I was trying to convey the kernel of these two stories to our domestic help who had got elements of the two stories intertwined and she was amazed, so she thought, that the monkey was allowed to perform the operation on me in the first place. We laughed so much at all of this that our sides ached.

Our friend arrived very promptly just after twelve and after we had exchanged some news, I got down to cooking a risotto for Meg and myself, our friend and our domestic help. This turned out to be quite a success and we helped it down with one half of a glass of white wine. Then we set off for Harvingtom Hall which is some seven miles down the road. We have been here several times before and always had a good tour but today was exceptionally good. Our guide was ‘togged up’ in full Tudor dress but was exceptionally knowledgeable and we discovered all kinds of things that we did not know before. The house is famous for being full of priest holes, none of which were actually discovered. One of the most concealed of these (behind a beam which swung on a swivel) I had previously been allowed to get inside but all of this activity is now banned as ‘Health and Safety’ regimes have swung into play. After an incredibly interesting tour, our friend treated us to some afternoon tea in the garden which wounded off a perfect afternoon. When we got home, we treated ourselves to a cold drink of cordial and eventually some strawberries, yogurt and icecream by way of tea. Then we spent a very pleasant evening talking over aspects of our two family histories which at one stage might even have coincided. I knew that my father had trained to be a pilot out in Rhodesia during the war years and our friend told us that her grandfather was an instructor of British pilots in Rhodesia. Although it is conjecture, it is quite possible that these two individuls might have known each other or even that my father was instructed in flying by my friend’s grandfather. All we can say at this stage is ‘Who knows’ as both are long since dead.