A long, lingering, lazy lunch in the garden. Our guests were Julian (Critchlow) — my literary executor, and very good friend, since we were students together at Kings College London, in the late 80s, reading for our Masters degree in Arbitration Law -and his partner Lucy. As I have come to expect from this pair they were good company and the conversation sparkled well into the afternoon when my energy suddenly sagged and they kindly decided it was probably about time to go home.
As luck would have it, it was another exquisitely beautiful, typically English, summer’s day, mercifully free of the plague of thunder bugs from which we have suffered over the last few hot days The icing on the cake was that our near neighbours – albeit 100 and 200 feet away respectively, on two boundaries – with whom we have the very best of relations, were happily elsewhere with all their respective brood, so our peace was not shattered by the â€˜ Violet Elizabethâ€™ screams that seem to be de rigueur when their little darlings are tearing round their respective gardens enjoying themselves. . (For those non-literary readers I should explain that Violet Elizabeth was a friend of William, in the Just William stories, written by the Richmal Crompton, who threatened to â€˜ sqeam and sqeam, until she was sickâ€™, if she did not get her own way,) Extraordinarily enough, I discovered a few years ago that a prominent barrister friend of mine -whose name I shall withhold to spare his blushes – had played the role of the young William for the television series, presumably in a 50â€™s. Following this train of thought,Â I also played golf many years ago, indeed with the co-founder of the Themanus Golfing Society (seeÂ Â Â Â entry ) who, in a weak moment, informed me that he was the little blue eyed, curly headed little darling, who appeared on the Pearâ€™s Soap posters. No doubt, the younger generation of readers of this blogÂ will have no idea what I’m talking about but perhaps one day they may see these posters in a museum and then Â understand the reference.. When I knew this â€˜little darlingâ€™ he was a 6â€™ 1â€, middle-aged gentleman weighing every bit of 15 stone. None of this of course has anything to do with ‘my lovely’s’ Â lunch but it does make me wonder whether I remembered to mention these two infants in the chapter of my autobiography entitled Â The Very Few Famous People I Have Ever Met.
As the average person seems to have a morbid curiosity about food and drink, as is evidenced by the proliferation of cooking programmes on television -which I suspect many people watch whilst they tuck into their takeaway – I will make an exception and say what our simple meal comprised. No starter, but our main course was a bowl of Coronation pastaÂ Â generously topped with tiger prawns with a large bowl of mixed salad to accompany it. A large crispy brown wholemeal loaf was available for those who wanted it for their course and the selection of half a dozen cheeses that followed the main course. We then finished with a Waitrose lemon tart smothered in the best English raspberries and cream. On the drink front we washed away the dust of the journey with some champagne and drank, with the meal, a modest sauvignon blanc.. All quite delicious, with the minimum of â€˜ pouring over a hot stoveâ€™, for â€˜my lovelyâ€™. A perfect alfresco meal of which, even our erstwhile next-door neighbour, Jamie Oliver, might have approved.