I hope all my readers received or gave some token of love on Valentine’s Day this past week. I associate red roses with this particular day so I hunted through my boxes for a scarf showing roses. I had the choice of three. Would it be a Laura Ashley pale wishy-washy number, very English but not really me? Then there is a beautiful Jaeger chiffon with flowers, somewhat rose-like but alongside branches of berries which are certainly not rose hips. That would not pass my botanically correct friends! So it has to be the third choice, pure satin silk, hand rolled edges, cream background, dark crimson border and certainly red roses, no designer name and probably made in China.
Well, that’s the scarf chosen. No sentimental cards for me and no sign of a sweet smelling red rose. My dear late husband was not one for cards, nor bouquets, but he was generous indeed. Way back in the Sixties, my youngest child wrote in her weekly school diary to be read out in class….”My Daddy forgot to buy Mummy a Valentine. He gave her a red Mini car instead.” I doubt if the spelling was that good! Of course the car had been ordered some time before, but the other parents thought I was a very spoilt Mum. I still remember the number plate MLY257D. She was called Red Milly.
Long after his death, I received a single red rose in a box. I opened it in front of a visiting granddaughter and I wondered if a grandchild had sent it as a token of affection. I was a little embarrassed to find it was from a widower friend of my husband, which lead to a great deal of teasing. Several years of mutual overseas friendship ensued but alas there are no more red roses. A scarf is forever, cut roses die.
So, no roses this year, but a lovely surprise of a basket of growing hyacinths left on my doorstep by a kind neighbour and a box of sweet smelling spring flowers from the Scilly Isles from a girlfriend. So how to celebrate St.Valentine’s Day? I decided that morning to book a taxi to take me into London to a Livery Lunch at Painter-Stainers Hall. No magic carpet flight, but a wonderful car trip at ground level. Over Chiswick Bridge….memories of the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race always held around March 26th, my wedding anniversary and the date of my first scarf blog nearly two years ago and the flying of the Union Jack on my front doorstep. On to Hammersmith to pass the building which looks like an ocean liner….now to Kensington….half term so long queues of children and parents by the Natural History Museum (a great grandson had a night sleepover in the great entrance Hall there…how exciting was that for a young child?), the V&A…. so many wonderful exhibitions I have seen there. Terrible traffic jam now as we approach Harrods, time for me to window shop as we wait patiently. My driver is from the Himalayan foothills of Pakistan. He is surprised that I have driven through his home town on the way to the Swat Valley. We get going again. Lovely Valentine’s Day surprise….a huge red balloon heart in the centre of the arch at Hyde Park Corner as we swing round to pass Buckingham Palace. The flag is flying. H.M. must be in residence. We were lucky enough to be invited to a garden party there when my husband was Master of the Livery Company I shall be visiting later on this Valentine’s Day . Up the Mall now in Spring sunshine…..St.James park with cheerful brave daffodils. Memories of lunchtime sandwiches in the park whilst at my first job and shyly holding hands with a young civil engineering student as we shared lunch. I was not sophisticated enough for him and we moved on! Then there were the times I stood on the Mall, flag in hand in teenage years up to the last when I saw the late Queen Mother’s 90th birthday procession. Horse Guards Parade, memories of Trooping the Colour, now passing Trafalgar Square. Don’t care for the sculpture on fourth pedestal by National Gallery. Must research what that is…..I see St.Martins in the Fields church. Nephew Danny had an exhibition of his art in the crypt there many years ago. The first day I got my Freedom travel Pass, I went to an art exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Mall, then had lunch cooked by students in the crypt of St.Martin’s Church, looked at the brass rubbing available there and then got my free Underground ride home. My taxi now wends its way along the Embankment. You know how much I love the River Thames. I see the London Eye, the Oxo building, so many river boats, finally a view of St. Paul’s and I am at my destination.
Now greeted by familiar faces, centuries of City of London tradition since 1286, the original hall being given to the Livery company by King Henry Vlll’s Sergeant Painter, the Great Fire of London fought from there, bombed in WW2…rebuilt. I have good dining companions….delicious lunch, bubbly, wines…..and finally a chocolate heart truffle wrapped in shiny red foil.
Happy ST.VALENTINE’S DAY.
No dying roses. My scarf lives on…..and fortunately my memories of happy times. I have to hold on to these today as I write my blog during raging Storm Eunice. I had to take down the Union Jack lest it fly off down the Thames, watch the oranges blown from my courtyard tree tied with a washing line to the pillars of my house, and the heavy garden chairs tossed like matchsticks. The Queen Mum walked up steps in heels unaided on her 100th birthday parade wearing pink roses in her hat. My fractured foot is almost mended. I turn up the Country and Western music to block out the noise of the storm, and write.
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!
Series 2, Blog 85.