Friday, 25 November 2011

In Praise of Cats - “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry”

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For First he looks upon his fore-paws to see if they are clean.
For Secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For Thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore-paws extended.
For Fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For Fifthly he washes himself.
For Sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For Seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For Eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For Ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For Tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incompleat without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his fore-paws of any quadrupede.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually – Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in compleat cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in musick.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is affraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly,
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroaking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadrupede.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the musick.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

Christopher Smart (1722-71)

With acknowledgement to my favourite blog: Spitalfields Life

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Favourite Corners of London - Victoria

Gastronomia Italia

One of my favourite corners of London is Victoria, round the back of the station, centred on Wilton Road and Warwick Way These streets form a village where you will find three of my favourite shops and cafes, Rippon Cheese and Gastronomia Italia in Tachbrook St and Delicias de Portugal in Warwick Way, all of them introduced to me by my old friend Francis. Rippon really is just a cheese shop. It has a small entrance hall in which cheeses are wrapped and money taken, but all the cheeses are displayed in a cold room behind reached through a heavy hanging plastic curtain. One needs to know what you buy as the selection is so great, and one can't take long because of the cold, but each cheese is in perfect condition and invariably delicious. As well as a very fine selection of English artisanal cheeses, France and Spain are fully represented, and unexpected  places like Finland provide extra interest.

Next to Rippon is an iconic Italian deli, Gastronomia Italia (pictured above) where one can find every shape of Italian delicacy. I go there principally for their gorgeous crispy and salty cheese biscuits (Barilla Sfoglia di Grano) - and a quick macchiato. Then on to Delicias de Portugal in Warwick Way where one can select a famous and delectable cheese (Terra Nostra - like an Edam, in a red wax sleeve) and some other unusual delicacies, like very finely cut smoked pork loin. There are tables outside where one can nibble a piece of Portugese cake with a cup of their delicious milky coffee.

Service is of course from people from the region who know their stock and are happy to talk and advise. Everything here is authentic and things are always offered in slivers to try first. One doubts that even 1% could be found in a supermarket.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Heaver Estate, Balham

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Much of 18C Balham was owned by the Duke of Bedford, including 150 acres of prime farmland known as 'Charringtons'. A century later, with farming in decline, the Bedford family sold the land to Richardson Borradaile, a wealthily merchant and MP, who built Bedford Hill House - a beautiful ivy-clad mansion situated where Veronica Road is now, roughly between Nos 12 and 18.

1i 1843 the house and its estate were sold to William Cubitt, brother of the builder Thomas Cubitt. Together they improved the house and grounds, adding an ornamental lake which lay by Elmbourne Road - between Manville and Huron. The family enjoyed uninterrupted views towards Balham until 1855 when a railway embankment was built along Balham High Road and Bedford Hill. A year later Balham Station opened and landowners were put under pressurev to release land for much-needed homes.

Alfred Heaver was an ambitious and visionary house builder when he acquired the now empty house and parkland. Ritherdon Road was the first to be laid out in 1888 and was to be the main access to the estate. That same year Heaver applied to construct Streathbourne, Drakefield and Louisville Roads across the grounds of Elms Farm and the nearby mansion Streatham Elms, and by the time they were completed in 1892, he was already building more roads running north off Ritherdon Road. With around twelve different styles of property, the Heaver Estate had now reached the neglected gardens around Bedford Hill House and when Veronica Road was built in 1897, it was demolished.

On 4th August 1901, at the age of 60, Alfred Heaver was shot in the back and head as he walked to church with his wife in the village of Wescott near Dorking. The assailant, who turned the gun on himself, was his sisters's husband James Young. The inquest stated that had had a grudge against his brother-in-law for many years and had even filed down the ends of the bullets to cause him maximum injury.

Although Heaver did not live to see the completion of his estate, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of 19C suburban development and was made a conservation area in 1978.

Sullivan Thomas

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Rev Hamilton Lloyd 1919 - 2011

Ham Lloyd at home

A very dear friend, Hamilton 'Ham' Lloyd, the vicar of Litchfield, died on 29th October 2011, aged 92. Ham was finest of men, noble, erudite and open-hearted. A fine cricketer and raconteur and a man of deep faith as well as love of country, he treated everyone the same - from the bishop and the squire to parishioners of every rank - and was equally loved by all.

This short obituary has appeared in the Whitchurch and Litchfield Parish Magazine:

The Reverend Hamilton Lloyd
9th July 1919 –  29th October 2011
in memoriam
Hamilton Lloyd, “Ham” died on 29th October 2011.   His life spanned 92 years.  He was born just after the end of the First World War in Birchgrove, Swansea and was educated at Cardiff High School before going up to Oxford to read history.  He was the only child of William and Hilda Lloyd.

Whilst at Oxford the Second World War broke out and he joined the University Air Squadron and thence the Royal Air Force.  He flew spitfires and hurricanes.

Owing to the development of an eyesight problem he could not continue to fly for the duration of the War and decided to train for ordination in the Church of England.  He attended Ripon Hall Theological College, Oxford in 1942 and married Suzanne Moon.  It was to be wonderfully happy marriage that lasted for over 65 years.  They had one son, Christopher.

Hamilton was ordained in 1944 and served as curate at St. Charles the Martyr, Falmouth, Cornwall.  In 1947 he became Rector of St. Gerrans with St. Anthony in Roseland.  After four years he left the Diocese of Truro and joined the Diocese of Winchester.  The family moved to Bournemouth where Hamilton oversaw the building of a new church, Holy Epiphany.

The move from Holy Epiphany to All Hallows, Whitchurch came in 1960.  At that time the united benefice was made up of Whitchurch and Tufton.  During his tenure Litchfield was added. After many happy years, including many games of cricket, Hamilton and Suzanne moved to the parish of St. Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst and stayed there until he reached the retirement age of 65.

But retirement was not for him and he gladly accepted the invitation to look after the little church of St. James the Less at Litchfield.   This he continued to do until he died – some 28 years.  The last service he took was Harvest Festival on 2nd October this year.

His second wife, Cecilia, survives him as does his son, Christopher, four grandsons and five great grandchildren.

He will be sadly missed - as will his monthly musings from Litchfield which he penned for the parish magazine.