This picture is a photograph I took some years ago, of the West Gate to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. This wonderful building by Sir Christopher Wren was built at the instigation of Charles II as a home for old and injured soldiers. And so it is still.
The two people in the photo are a serving policeman, and a resident Chelsea Pensioner. The latter is wearing his famous scarlet coat. When I bump into them in the local supermarket, they are generally equally smart but slightly less startling in navy blue.
I am really fond of that not very good photograph. I took it on a day in November — mist in the air, trees turning to gold before they started to lose their leaves. Very like today, indeed.
Real Life (Mine)
After my dear Tom Kyd died in July I heard him about the house for weeks.
But then I began to smile more and weep less, when I thought about him. Then I started to feel I wanted to share all that love we generated between us.
The obvious course was to adopt a cat who had somehow lost their own family. So I have, thanks to the rehoming programme at the wonderful Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
They haven’t been going as long as the Royal Hospital, but they are pretty venerable. Founded in 1860, originally just for dogs. They have seen the light since. Obviously.
So, to my new charge. It is very early days, of course. And even at Battersea she seemed extremely timid and rather scared, poor sausage.
The spare bedroom is now translated into a Feline Reception Centre. But it is new to her, as am I. She’s playing it safe.
She has ignored the cosy chair, the cardboard box, the hidey-corner, draped with the knitted throws.
Instead she has taken up residence on a box of books under the bed. She hisses if I look at her. But she has – oh joy – condescended to eat, after a day’s near hunger strike to Make Her Point.
So, for the time being at least, a bed of books it is. Well, Tom liked books too. And also my hard, uncomfortable desk, when he had a perfectly good nursing chair and hand-crocheted (by me!) blanket to sleep on in my study.
All of which is my explanation for why I lost track of time. I was cat sitting. Well, trying to make New Cat feel safe and at home, without crowding her.
It was time-consuming. And all-absorbing.
So my blog on fashionable phrases, their usefulness and how sheer bloody annoying they can be, is only half done, as a result. I took the executive decision to postpone it until a later date. And then collapsed to sleep.
As a very small child, with a very elderly grandmother, I remember how she and her slightly less elderly sister would stand to attention during the two minutes silence. Both of them could remember when the Silence took place actually on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Factories would fall silent. People in shops would stand still and listen.
It sobered me then. It still does. I blogged about Remembrance Day and how its ceremonies evolved in 2018. That, of course, was the centenary of the end of the First World War.
I re-read it this morning and gasped again at the moat of poppies outside the Tower of London, the weeping window at Caernarvon Castle.
And that sense of Disaster Avoided, the Eleventh Hour.
Today I am giving thanks for that, as well as cats old and new, of course. Also, with last week’s Climate Change Conference in mind, praying that we can save the world from disaster at the eleventh hour again.