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JUNE 2022 continued Friday 17.6.22 The official from Gloucestershire County Council Housing for Ukraine scheme and his colleague who is actually fireman in uniform come to welcome our guests and run through all the things that have to be done from registering with schools, doctors, dentists, banks, the biometric passport agency, Job Centre etc Saturday 18.6.22 Drive to Solihull to deliver small commission to Jean May who lost her dear husband Brian (who collected Bristol cars), during lockdown. The little painting is for her 3year old Grandson Arten who we meet over the splendid meal with his baby sister Lilu and their parents Greg and Rochelle Sunday 19.6.22 Both Henrietta and Nathan ‘phone Richard as it is Father’s Day and he receives a beautiful pair of Japanese secateurs in a bag which will be put to very good use in the garden - which means I might be allowed to use his old pair with the nick out of the blade. Monday 20.6.22 Really pleased as Panter & Hall have a red spot by Midweek Commuters. I e mail the gallery and sure enough it is the woman who had liked it at the art fair. Richard receives a call from Joyce my lovely friend from student days, who we ad been holing visit tomorrow with Janet and David, saying that she is eager to see us all. But on Saturday I’d received an e mail saying she wasn’t feeling up to it so could e postpone but in this mornings call she siad she didn’t want to disappoint Janet so could we all go! But then I receive an e mail from Janet saying that Joyce had ‘phoned back to say it would be better if we made the visit short as she’d had a heart attack a few years ago and her daughter had said she is ill. She’s then ‘phoned Janet back to say she was well whatever her daughter says so we were still wondering wat the best course of action would be when I get a ‘phone message from Janet, who must have tried to ‘phone at the same time as Catrin of the Star College, saying that dear Joyce was very confused and ‘phoned again to say she couldn’t cope with us as she is very tired and unable to cope. So we sadly postpone Tuesday 21.6.22 Send Panter & Hall a photo of High Hats and the larger newspaper painting One Day as they are wanting to take them to the Henley Festival Wednesday 22.6.22 I have an appointment at a specialist dentist in Nailsworth during the afternoon. It’s a beautiful hot day so it is interesting going up ad down the Stroud valleys with the winding river. Te dentist is in a former bank building; so many regional bank buildings are now closed with the move to online. We reminisce as Richard used to live here and we pass Kit Williams’ house en route and the large home and garden of the man who commissioned Richard to do a large painting of his estate. Thursday 23.6.22 Went into Cheltenham to see Little Amal who I had heard Michael Morpurgo talking about some time ago. She’s a magnificent puppet probably about 12 feet high and made by the same people who made the War Horse puppets of horses. Amal is a girl with long flowing dark hair wearing red boots stockings and dress. She’s walked all the way from Ukraine highlighting the vast distances that refugees have to travel to reach sanctuary or a new home. Edward (Lord Lieutenant) had pinged us an e mail last night to tell us about her visit to Cheltenham and walkabout. I catch up with her just outside Waterstones and become one of the thronging crowd that then follow her, accompanied by a band and as she makes her way to the the cenotaph where the Mayor and Lord Lieutenant are waiting to greet her she takes off he floral headdress and lays it as a wreath in remembrance of all those who have perished in war. Then a Ukrainian singer performs a beautiful Ukrainian song. In the crowd I’ve met Helen , a past principal at the National Star College who also has a Ukrainian family staying with her and John and a bit later Peter Horne, a director at the National Star College. By this time Richard had managed to park the car and locate me in the crowd after having already met up with Edward and Alyson and Martin Horwood (who used to be our Liberal Democrat MP. We then go over so that I can speak to Edward and Alyson and also meet Mayor Sandra Halliday again. A very nice man comes up to introduce himself to me who is n the board of trustees of the National Star - although he had been a trustee for eight years he says he has never managed to introduce himself to me before. He is also on the board of trustees of the Everyman Theatre and of Cleeve common but says the Star is very close to his heart and is the one he would least want to relinquish. I ask if he lives in Bishops Cleeve but it’s actually Woodmancote which Bishops Cleeve runs into. As we say goodbye to Edward and Alyson he does a beautiful tap dance sequence on the pavement specially for us. He’s very Light on his feet and I comment that it must be difficult not wearing tap shoes (and full Lord Lieutenant’s uniform) he agrees. Back home to varnish High Hats and do some final touching up on One Day Friday 24.6.22 After Richard’s packed the car, including the paintings, paints etc we set off for London. The traffic’s quite bad and the timing on the sat nav for arrival keeps getting later and later so I ‘phone the gallery. But we’re in luck as Matthew will be there. When we arrive we’re surprised to find Tiffany too as a Chinese couple and their young son are trying unsuccessfully to haggle over a Warwick Fuller painting which they seem to think as they are offering cash, they can get for half price. Anyway flashing their money at him doesn’t work so they depart and after having chatted to Tiffany in the meantime have a short chat to Matthew too. Then we’re off to Boodle’s where Nicky and Karin are having a drinks party to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. R manages to park at the end of Jermyn Street so it’s only a five minute walk. Boodles has a beautiful facade being an Adam design and over the pillared portico a huge Venetian window through which you can see the sparking chandelier with faceted glass pineapple on top. As we ascend the stairs there are some magnificent paintings of racehorses and other frames with jockeys’ silks etc. We’re greeted with glasses of champagne and survey the large room full of lovely partying people, friends and family of Nicky and Karin who have six children and sixteen grandchildren. We moved along to where elderflower, water and other drinks are bing served when Nicky’s younger brother Francis (a photographer) spots us. A very amiable man who seems to smile all the time and tells us proudly that he’s wearing his father’s Guards braces. Nicky spots us and comes to greet us and introduces us to his beautiful granddaughter Saskia who is in the lower sixth at her school and has two brothers. They are Sara’s children. Nicky introduces me to Chichi the classical double bass player who is a professor at the Royal Academy and has her own foundation for training young black musicians. I tell her I know her cousin Trish, who trained in dementia care and is a carer for a friend of mine. Hugo (one of Nicky and Karin’s sons ) asks Richard and me to help lay out the big box of freshly printed autobiographies ‘Owls in the Ruins’ which Nicky is presenting to each of us. He takes the opportunity to show us that right at the back there is a page illustrating the little painting of an Owl writing their names that I created for their 40th wedding anniversary. Saturday 25.6.22 It’s nice being in the London studio again and the garden is looking beautiful with the apples forming on the big russet tree in the middle, a clematis flowering on the terrace as it climbs along the rail, the hydrangeas all about to flower, especially the climber which is making it’s way up the trellis on the wall; the palms, yuccas and New Zealand flax all thriving too. After a lovely tuna salad lunch with Henrietta Kev and Samuel we go for a walk through The Pleasance, a small park down into Greenwich, as Kev is taking Samuel’s ‘phone in to have a new screen to replace the broken glass of the previous one. We walk through what is now the University of Greenwich, a series of renaissance building designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It’s gloriously sunny and we can hear classical music drifting in the air as it’s being practiced by the music students. We had hoped to go in and see the painted hall by Sir James Thornhill, Hogarth’s father in law, but it was closed. I think what a breathtakingly beautiful and spacious campus this would be to study at. We then walk down by the river with its stunning view of Canary Wharf with its gleaming skyscrapers, several bank headquarters and I recall going to a dinner at the Daily Telegraph headquarters at number one, invited by Sir Frank Rogers with dear Professor Ken; sadly neither of them are still with us. We also caught the Clipper from along here when we travelled by river to The Globe theatre to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was rather wonderful. We stop at a beautiful little hospital building from the early 1800s. Quite exquisite and small for a hospital, I suspect it was for the naval pensioners and could possibly now be almshouses. We then make our way back up through the magnificent Royal Greenwich Park with its steep hill. We notice there’s even a free open sided vehicle a bit like a large golf buggy that gives free rides people who have mobility problems. When we get to the top we walk through the flower garden which is where we used to take the boys when they were very young. They used to play hide and seek under the scots pines. We also took them to see the deer. There is an abundance of grey squirrels and also parakeets which have bred in the park and become quite a large colony. Kev, who had gone to collect Samuel’s ‘phone had made his way back separately and had already taken the white shirts out of the washing machine so that Isaac would have one to wear for his party tonight with a 1920s theme. We go back to the flat to write some e mails and diary. Whilst I’ve been walking with H and K Richard has been sanding a rather beautiful arched topped mahogany frame probably a hundred or so years old. He’s just primed it with white gesso when I returned to the studio next door. Then at about a quarter past eight Samuel comes round and we have the most interesting conversation. I know he’s always been passionate about football and is good at rugby too but in the summer he tells me he prefers to do athletics rather than cricket or tennis apparently he’s second best in his year at javelin, shot put and discus. The other boy who’s best is he tells me already over six feet tall at the age of fourteen and that one boy in his year is six foot six. The ‘phone rings to tell us that dinner is ready so we all walk through the garden round to their beautiful eating area. It’s a lovey evening and Henrietta has prepared a delicious stir fry after which we all have a slice of her banana and date loaf. Sunday 26.6.22 We drive down to Ramsgate on this beautiful sunny morning. Nathan greets us at the door with Bea who us very excited to see us. He’s been busy preparing a banquet of food, fresh sea trout which he is going to smoke in his outside smoker and boeuf sur l’os in the inside oven. He’s also made a Caesar salad and oysters to start. Henrietta and Kev had arrived about three quarter of an hour after us both boys being otherwise engaged. It’s an amazing feast and I can only just manage the french fruit and custard tart for desert. We then go for a walk down the sea front, Nathan on his skateboard, Bea on her lead often performing rather like a circus act there in front of a classical Grecian Pavilion. From there down the steep steps to the beach where Bea races into the sea to fetch her ball each time we throw it. Nathan said she only earned to swim a week ago. He gives me his shirt and t shirt to hold while he goes in for a dip with Bea. Back then along the beach to the centre of Ramsgate and up the ‘Pugin’ steps with their beautiful tiles to walk along the esplanade where Coleridge used to stay in one of three different guest houses. It has been a beautiful walk and when we get back Henrietta comes in with a delightful strawberry topped Victoria sponge that she has made, all alight with candles which don’t frighten Bea when she jumps up to investigate; it’s to celebrate my birthday. I then get presented with surprise gifts, a rather magnificent sculptural candle holder that looks a little like a Barbara Hepworth and a very tall twin coloured candle, black at one end ad white at the other from Nathan with a birthday card showing a present bearing octopus. From Henrietta, Kev and the boys she has brought me back a magnificent catalogue of the Louis Vuitton foundation collection and a lovely scarf also from Paris, that is in a tin with a separate print on each side. H and K drive back to be with the boys but we stay on for a couple of hours to chat to Nathan arriving back at the flat at about a quarter past eleven. Monday 27.6.22 Before leaving Henrietta invites us for brunch. She’s going to be writing a chapter in a book that the London Institute will be publishing, which is rather nice as they are Goldsmiths’ rivals though both are part of the University of London. We bid farewell and drive into London to the National Gallery were we are going to see the Raphael exhibition as it ties in very well with our bedtime reading of Varari’s Lives of the Artists. It’s a splendid exhibition and exciting to see so many works we have only seen as reproductions, in their full scale reality though it does also contain a huge what looks like to scale print of the School of Athens from the Pope’s quarter in the Sistine Chapel Palace. Although the exhibition contains many of his larger devotional works and altarpieces we are also very taken with the portraits, especially his compelling self portrait at the age of twenty two and later a double portrait of him with his chief assistant Guilio Romano where it is thought that Raphael is guiding Guilio’s right arm. There are some exquisite drawings and cartoons in preparation for the pantings including a magnificent terra cotta coloured cartoon of Moses shielding his eyes from the burning bush which in reality appears in a roundel Stanza di Elodura in the Vatican. He was a huge admirer of Michaelangelo who was several years his senior and also of Leonardo da Vinci and was sometimes accused of using one of their painted poses or figures from the Sistine chapel. Of course Francis Bacon based his screaming popes series of Raphael’s Portrait of Julius II. and John Ruskin plus the pre Raphaelites were trying to work in a more primitive way that was pre Raphael with his dark and often quite uncluttered backgrounds. Raphael has always been a popular and influential artist. By the nineteenth century he was considered the pre-eminent artist of the Western cultural tradition. Napoleon looted sixteen of his major paintings, similarly his works were highlights on the Grand Tour and held the highest priority in the acquisition strategies of private collectors and National Museums such as the National Gallery. We arrive home about eight thirty and I am relieved to see the two bikes I bought for Max and Koliya still lying on the drive where they had left them over the weekend as they have had to temporarily return to Ukraine as Daria’s mother is having surgery. Tuesday 28.6.22 Lovely e mail from Dr Margus in Moscow. Richard’s been busy cooking a cake and preparing open sandwiches as our friend Bev is coming to tea as it was her birthday last week. She arrives with two of her specialist carers. It’s so good to see her and although I had been expecting Trish to accompany her, Karen is equally lovely and a new carer, Helen, who specialises in yoga and Indian head massage and keeps hares as pets for the therapeutic effect they have on people who are anxious. John, the wonderful man who makes my frames also joins us. Wednesday 29.6.22 Have now given a green priming to the smaller of Paul’s two commissions, two of which John delivered yesterday so I end up greening both. Interesting that I’ve had what we think is a scam of someone wanting to buy all three of the images I sent at his request. It sounds almost plausible but just slightly suspicious. There seems to have been a great increase in this sort of crime over the past few months. This man led a rather interesting story to his life and work and was of course ‘buying them for his wife’. But I’ve also had two telephone calls from a woman with a strong foreign accent telling me she’s our regional energy advisor plus Richard had two about doing surveys. But of course some people will unfortunately be misled and fall into the trap. Thursday 30.6.22 Working on two commissions, one for Nicky and one for Paul. Henrietta sends us photographs of Isaac going off to his Prom night, looking so elegant in his new suit but one can feel his reluctance to be photographed. But he enjoys the “best of all evenings” where they even had a professional photographer so I imagine we will get other photos of the reveller.
MAY