The Old Lady

Posted on 25/09/2016 By

The Old Lady & Bertie

“Please sir .. Have you got some change for a cup of coffee?”

The Old Lady posing with me, Bertie.

The Old Lady & Me.

Bobby was sitting under a large umbrella in a pavement café in Spitalfields. Breakfast a pint of milk and a punnet of strawberries. Watching the world go by in the gentle rain. A relief for many after the heatwave.

A sad old lady with a broken umbrella would probably have got his standard reply. A terse “no”. Avoidance of eye contact and turning away. But this was opportunity. Not in a bad way. Not exploitative. But, rather, an opportunity to follow his natural instincts rather than the pragmatic avoidance of all such situations. Or maybe, mindfully, Bobby is being taken over by me……. “I’ll buy you a cup of coffee if you will have your picture taken with Bertie.”

Nervously she asked…. “Is he a policeman?”. “No. He is a teddy bear.”

Bewildered, she waited until I appeared from Bobby’s rucksack. The picture was taken and a member of staff brought the coffee and a spare cup. We shared short life stories. All three of us. And the strawberries in the spare cup. At no time did she come past the barrier. I sensed that she felt disapproved of by the café staff. It was, after all, M & S, even on the pavement. “Goodbye sir and thank you.”

“Goodbye Ann and good luck” . As she shuffled off into the rain.

As the weeks go by this blog is evolving into who knows what? Here’s a new, now and again,


Mispelled sign for "Barbican Exhibtion Halls". The "h" is missing from the workd exhibtion!



Lighting a candle for Diddley.

Later that day we were once again in St Martin in the Fields. A candlelight concert… Bobby… I lit candles for Diddley and my sister Wendy. Sat down for an evening with the string ensemble. First piece. Handel’s “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.”

This is the exact recording from many years ago at St Martin in the Fields used at the service. Instantly, I was back in St Mary Magdalene Church, South Holmwood. The door opened and the Reverend Virginia Smith entered followed by the cardboard coffin. My son one of the pallbearers. As the procession moved down the aisle to that glorious uplifting music, I could see the grandchildren looking for their artwork that adorned the coffin. I related later in my tribute that I wondered what those in the congregation who knew Diddley well made of it. The Church. The celebratory music. All requested by Diddley just a few days before she went into hospital that last time. She was spiritual, but distinctly irreverent towards religion – as I told the congregation. Deep down inside I did wonder if this was the final act of defiance against convention. The final Micky take. If I am wrong, “I am sorry Diddley, I love you.”

Half time came. The peace of the concert jarring with the clamour of Trafalgar Square for a few minutes stretching your legs outside. And then, back for the second half. Back to Pachebel’s Canon and back to the committal – this time, coming into the crematorium. Again from St Martin in the Fields. She loved that music. I hope it finds you peace. A few tears are ok….

St Martin in the Fields - 1921 - Cab Rank.

St Martin in the Fields – 1921 – Cab Rank.

This piece was written in the Premier Inn in Brick Lane. An appropriate name. A very nice overnight stay and impressive view from the window of Room 229.

Premier Inn Room 229.


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