Friday, December 14, 2012

30.9.68 - Travels and Travails


Dear Mum, how are the pair of you thriving?  I had a ridiculous day yesterday, Sunday, but quite interesting for all that.  In the morning I had decided to go to Mass at the Convent which is only a short distance from Newman Rd.  This was the first time I’d gone there because the first Sunday I went way up to the next parish and the last two have been spent in Wood Green. I arrived to find the place singularly quiet for a Catholic Church, and Mass just finished.  And not another!  However there was a priest there and we had a wee chat and he gave me a timetable on the newsletter, and said I could go to Mass at 12 at the main parish church down in the Barking Road. So I went home again and had breakfast, and then at 11.45 set off, thinking that this would give me plenty of time.  It turned out to be a longer walk than I anticipated but I made it with a second to spare.  On the way home it rained, and for once I didn’t have an umbrella.  So I got a bit wet, but it was one of those days when it suddenly pours out of a blue sky. 


I did some German – incidentally, the 3rd Programme is starting a German lesson series on Monday, so I think I’ll get their little booklet and listen to that in conjunction with the OC’s classes.  (I'm still not very enthused over the Italian lessons – which makes it harder; at least Frau Radinger has a marvellous sense of humour and we really have a good time learning, but in the other class we waste more time than anything.)


After this I had planned to go to see a Laurel and Hardy Quartet of films at the NFT.  It poured as I was setting out for Plaistow station. Anyway, saw the films, which were very good, without getting very wet on the way, and then hopped on the usual train to come back. The gremlins were at work again.  We got as far as Mansion House and the train was stopped and everyone told to change.  So an entire train-load of people walked up over to the next platform, and waited...and waited.  A guard told a group of people near me that someone had jumped under a train at Aldgate East which was between there and Plaistow. But at another station they reckoned that something had collapsed on the line.  Anyway, the next train was going to Tower Hill, a little further on my way, so I got on that.  And would have got a Circle Line to take me on a detour, avoiding the station where the trouble was.  However the wait at Tower Hill was even longer.  On the trip to there I picked up a wee friend, a boy of about 10 or 11, who was going North-East.  He and I had a discussion going to TH as to what was the best route for him to take, though I wasn’t a lot of help. At TH, I picked up my 2nd friend, a lady in her 30s, travelling with a great suitcase and a couple of bags, who knew her way around but who had got onto the wrong platform, and who was regretting having crossed over with her bags.  She didn’t say so, but obviously had, and anyway she was very helpful to us two kids in giving us an idea of the best way to get home.  A guard said that I’d have to go to Mile End, still before Plaistow, and get a bus.  However, no train appeared on our platform and so I offered to carry her case over to the other platform, where trains were going back the way we’d come, but where there was a chance of getting to Mile End.  So she very gratefully accepted, and we took our little boy with us, and crossed over and caught a train that was then waiting.  At Monument station we walked underground to Bank, got on the Central Line and were on our way. Actually we left her at Bank as the train which the boy and I got – it was his homebound one – wasn’t going far enough for her, and she waved and said God bless as we went.  She was very nice, but possibly a bit worried in case I took off with her case – people, according to Mike and K. don’t help each other much in London, but from things I’ve seen, just quietly, I think they’re wrong (M & K, I mean)!  Anyway, my little boy – who had a hair-lip scar – and I shot through to Mile End where he went on, saying thank you (I don’t know what for, because he probably knew more about it all than I do) and where by that time I was able to catch a very crowded train to P.  (This morning it was absolutely packed, and tonight was worse – I thought I’d seen the rush hour jam, but tonight when I put my arm up to take hold of the strap to hang on, I couldn’t get it down again, until we reached a station!)


My troubles weren't over: I’d bought some mince on Sat, and used half of it in my main meal on Sat, and had kept the rest for Sun. Was all organised, yesterday. I took the meat out of the cupboard, opened it, closed it, and threw it in the waste-bin, then I took the lot outside, and put it in the bucket!! Was I mad?  I thought it would at least last 24 hours!  Fortunately I had 2 sausages left over from breakfast, so I combined them in a thing called Italian Risotto Milanese, or some-such, substituting what I had in me larder for what they suggested in the recipe.  I think the only thing we both used was the rice!  However it did not kill me.  But I’m going to a different butcher in future.  Should never have trusted this one – he has the only dirty postcards I’ve ever seen hung up on his wall![I presume I meant that he was the only butcher who’d ever displayed dirty postcards. My inexperience as a cook keeps showing up in these letters; refrigerators were much less common, of course, and I don't think we had one at my home in Dunedin at that point, so keeping meat fresh was always a bit of an issue.]


Today at the OC the only thing I was down for all day was German, which seems a bit odd, but I went in at 10 all the same, and spent the morning doing things on my own, and this afternoon looked in on a coaching session by Norman Feasey*, one of the big reps in London.  Great on Wagner, apparently. (He was coaching Alan Opie, a baritone about my age, from Cornwall, and quite a friendly guy. He’s in one of The Telephone casts.) N.F was seated when I arrived, and I noticed as the lesson went on that though he was shorter than me when sitting he had enormous bone structure, so that when he did finally stand, he sort of expanded in all directions. 


Tomorrow is busy again, Wednesday not bad, although though I have the afternoon off, we’ve all got to go to a dress rehearsal of the Opera For All Group’s Italian Girl in Algiers at 6.00 which is a bit of a nuisance [handwritten] because it’s a waste of time and cash to go home in the afternoon.  Ann Gordon is in it.  Anyway I hadn’t intended to fill this whole air-letter!  Never mind.  Lots & lots of love Mike.