Sunday, November 15, 2015

9.6.69 Hampton Court and Brighton Beach

Dear Mum, sorry it’s rather a while since I’ve written ˗ in fact I have been getting slack, I’m afraid, on my letter writing in general. I got an answer back from Prof Platt thanking me for writing, but it was a very short letter ˗ about ten lines, I think ˗ he wanted to know because he says Murray Holmes is thinking of coming over ˗ I don’t know what he intends doing over here, though. [Nor do I now remember who this man was.]

We’ve been having fabulous weather here over the last weekend, and it’s still fine in fact ˗ temperatures up in the 70s.

On Sat I went with Mike to Weybridge which is near Hampton Court, for lunch with one of his girlfriends ˗ her name is Maureen, but for some reason she’s called Mickey! Weybridge is quite a way from London Central ˗ about forty minutes by not very fast train (they have fast trains which take you direct, and semi-fast ones that stop at some stations, and not very fast ones which stop occasionally, and slow ones which take all day to get there) and is one of the wealthy areas, like Blackheath, with a pretence at being in the country ˗ though Weybridge succeeds rather more than Blackheath does. Anyway, after lunch we went to Hampton Court and spent some time there, and though the place has certain fascinations, it isn’t as interesting as some other spots. It has the distinction of having no two chimneys alike ˗ they each have a different pattern, and there are dozens of chimneys ˗ and of housing lots of grace and favour people ˗ ones who live in royal apartments (there are some in London too), rent free, because of some royal relationship or service. But it isn’t very looked after generally speaking ˗ certainly not inside in the royal apartments where the furniture just looks patchy instead of antique, and where they have some of the dreariest paintings I’ve ever seen. Plus the fact that there is so much you can’t see there that it gets a little frustrating after a while running constantly into No Admittance signs.

We went in the Maze, which is in a rather bad way ˗ people have rather wrecked it at various times by trampling through the hedges, and now most of the hedges have iron fences in their centres which rather spoils the attractiveness. But it’s not a bad maze ˗ everyone goes around with silly grins on their faces ˗ there are several dead end paths, and no one coming out of one tells the people going into it that it is a dead end. There are some very nice formal gardens there ˗ one with tiny hedges about six inches high all in designs with flowers between ˗ but only ones that aren’t going to grow higher than the hedges. And others with statues and fountains in them.

The building is rather fabulous ˗ especially the old Tudor bits which they are gradually restoring to something of their former beauty, and they are also restoring the massive murals ˗ some walls are nothing but paintings, and the ceilings too. They have cleaned these up and they look very bright. One room is full of weapons, but all arranged in geometrical designs and hung on the walls, so that a hundred pistols in a circle cease to have their warfaring value and become something of beauty.

After the Court we went down to Kevin’s pub ˗ about 500 yards from the Palace gates, and sat there for quite a while talking.  It is actually quite an old building, but what looks like age inside it is apparently phoney, and it was decorated in an old style just a few years ago! [This wasn’t a pub that Kevin Flaherty owned, but one he worked in for a time.] After this we we went and had a very nice Chinese meal, and then finally went home. [This obviously wasn’t the time I had an Indian meal that nearly burnt my mouth out; something I thought happened near Hampton Court.]

Brighton Beach, about 1967
by Tony Ray-Jones
Yesterday about eight of us from the Centre went to Brighton, and it turned out to be the hottest day [in Dunedin; I’m not sure what kids I’m referring to. Possibly my cousins.] ˗ remember? ˗ we all came home looking like fresh beetroots and could barely get dressed or sleep or anything. I slept very well last night, just by ignoring the discomforts I did feel, and except for my legs (the backs of them of course!) and back, which are both rather tender, particularly when I’m sitting, I’m not too bad. But what a day! It made life worthwhile and I even felt like swimming, which surprised me as I don’t normally like sea water. But there were barely any waves, and it was nowhere (that I went in) very deep. But the beach was PEBBLES! and the area between the ball and heel of both my feet have great blue bruises on them ˗ it was impossible to walk comfortably ˗ though at least there was only sand under the water.
this year. Well, we lay on the beach (and swam, twice, in extremely cold, but very buoyant water) for something like four hours, and naturally we all look rather more than pink today. I knew I was getting more burnt than I ought, but it was just so wonderful to be in actual sunshine that actually lasted for more than an hour that I couldn’t resist it. Fortunately I didn’t get burnt as much as that time the kids and I went to St Kilda

I’m going to have to leave this flat ˗ John has now decided that he needs a flat in North London, because we’re too far away from his Royal College. Actually I don’t mind (apart from having felt quite settled here) because it gives me an excuse to part with him and it seems as though I may be able to go into a flat with Davids Syrus and Gorringe ˗ who both have to move shortly. And anyway, North London is more central ˗ especially if you’ve missed a train late at night. Strange isn’t it that Jeff and I get on well together, and that we both find John rather difficult to get on with. [handwritten] Jeff and I, for example, have just been for a long walk around Blackheath, which is something John always reckoned he’d do, but never would. John always considers himself to be an intellectual ˗ with the inference that we’re not ˗ you know? Not to worry, love, Mike.