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Singing up in smoke

August 9, 2012

As we travelled through the slums of south London yesterday on the way from Croydon’s Ikea, a retail outlet made in heaven for that nice lady decorator, to Wembley to collect our furniture from Cadogan Tate, we had to drive quite close to some of the less well off suburbs of London.  It was as we drove through one of these deprived neighborhoods that we witnessed an altercation outside a library. Two chaps of West Indian descent were “in discussion” with 4 police officers about something so contentious that it had turned into fisticuffs. The altercation took place outside the library, and I would like to think that the matter in dispute was the failure to return library books, but I may be wrong.

From Wembley to Muswell Hill to pick up a pot. Not pick up pot as sprog 1, who had been press ganged into helping out, had thought. For the amount of time it took, the stress of negotiating the North Circular and the distress caused me by having to drink tea whilst that nice lady decorator polished off a fair chunk of Paul “Slash and Burn” Thornton Allan’s prosecco in late afternoon, I would have rather bought her a pottery.

So, after a gruelling, but in some ways enjoyable day being white van man, which included driving past where I was born in deepest “sarf London” we were in need of a pint at the White Hart. During the trip, where I managed to avoid using my indicators for the entire day, cut up a dozen cars and gave the finger to scores of others, I was thirsty. I had eaten a nice piece of fish at lunchtime, sadly covered in batter as is usually the way in England so was not really hungry, but when the landlord of the pub next door invites you to dine with him, what can you do?

I think he was trying to apologise for a noisy party which had overflowed out into the pub garden the night before, and for “Singing George” who had given us a practical and loud demonstration in the pub garden of his lack of singing talent and who is pictured today. George, who had clearly imbibed freely and substantially, is well known locally for his propensity for ad lib singing after more than a few drinks in a style which combines the worst of Pavarotti with the worst of the Port Isaacs Fishermens Friends. He is a confirmed non smoker as he attempted to illustrate in today’s picture.

Singing George warns of the dangers of smoking

How is it that the best mussels I have ever tasted could be served at The White Hart in Arundel? I have lived in the worlds leading gourmet nation for 8 years. Anyway, as we got to know the locals in a caring, loving sort of a way until well after dark (which is quite late given our proximity to the Arctic Circle during a season laughably known here as summer), it suddenly dawned on us that the van was stuffed full of furniture and needed to be returned empty to Littlehampton before 8am today. Thus it was that a human chain was formed to unload the consignment from the van into our garden at around midnight. Had the police arrived at that moment, a fair amount of explaining may have been required. Anyway, the van is empty and was returned on time and my garden is full of boxes and furniture, and more remarkably still dry, the first night it has not rained since we arrived 9 days earlier.

I spent some time explaining to George the benefits of opening an account with Currencies Direct for all his foreign exchange needs but am not certain he grasped the concept.

Today then will be spent unpacking the boxes which contain a range of items which that nice lady decorator claims are vital to our new temporary life back in blighty. When I scoffed at the concept that we needed anything else at all to cram into this pretty but tint house she gave me that stare and said”one of the boxes is full of your unsold books” so she had made a valid point. Vital indeed.

Chris France

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