Saturday, 3 August 2019

Getting a builder and tube talk

Getting workers in Suffolk is difficult, for they can be selective in the jobs they take. For months we've been trying to get someone to repair the crack that's appeared over our window. Many didn't return our calls. Others promised to come but didn't. A few came and said they'd give a quote, but didn't and the crack continued to widen and lengthen, and now there is a crack in the internal coving above the window. Finally one came, and gave a proper quote. Today after a repeated delay for a mixture of excuses, he finally arrived to work at the brickwork and replace the window, which no longer opens. I had to go to London for meetings, so Ann dealt with him, but at least he seems to be doing the right things.

For some time, Ann has asked me to try and get a bottle of Orange Wine to try. I asked in many varied shops, some with Luke when he came to stay and we saw parts of London advertising wine shops, but to no avail. Today I found somewhere in High Hoborn, down a dark alley close to the office block where my meetings were. The store was filled with tasting bottles and glasses, and the manager, a young Portuguese man, recommended Doc Alentejo, a special Portuguese Vinho De Talha white whose grapes were trod in the traditional manner, and left to ferment in open vats with all the bits still in, and a layer of olive oil to keep the dirt and flies out. The grapes are grown in the hottest region of Portugal, Cape Bojador, and have to be picked a full two weeks before other regions. It was a lovely dark wine with a subtle taste of fruits and very little acidity, wonderful with salads in the sun. It was pricey, but I splashed out for Ann - she's worth it.

Returning from Holborn, the tube was packed and I had to fight a pack of pressed bodies to force my way into a carriage. At Liverpool, enough people left for me to get a seat, and someone else let a woman from further up through to the adjacent seat. It was hot, and she wore a heavy coat which she struggled to pull off, so I offered to help by pulling the sleeve down. She was unusually grateful, and went into a long monologue about why she wore the coat which she had chosen specially from Marks and Spencer's. It had cost £80, and had multiple pockets. She lives in East Ham, and complained that it was crime ridden, with gangs of bag-snatchers roaming to seize any bag they could, her own bag being snatched several times, so now she kept her money dispersed round the pockets and only carried cheap carrier bags, of which a fair number were displayed at her feet. By the time I reached Stratford, we were chatting like old neighbours - a rare event on trains and tubes, where standard behaviour is to bury one's head in a book or protect against the possibility of conversation with headphones firmly plugged in, carefully ignoring everyone even when pressed together.

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