Z enthuses

My mother did throw fabulous parties. I’d like to think that, if someone who knew me fairly well was describing me, one of the words would be ‘enthusiastic’ and that would be spot on for both my parents. I make life easier for myself than my mother ever did, but it was a different age and, actually, one of my other descriptive words might be ‘efficient’ which would be less likely to apply to her. She’d work until she dropped and then get up early the next morning. I prioritise and dump the non-essentials, if it comes to it. But then, it depends on your definition of non-essential. Hers was rest, sleep and mine is percentage of effort compared to result.

Not that I’m knocking high expectations. I remember the weeks of preparation for parties, when the whole house – downstairs, anyway – was decorated with fabulous hand-made paper flowers or actual garlands. The food – she was never big on sweet foods, so I used to make cakes and puddings – involving hours of work on food that would outclass Masterchef even now. largely because of the time it took. Both my parents were beautiful cooks and took such care in preparation.

I’m not in the same league. However, I made some lovely stock the other day, which was turned into French onion soup this evening. I sliced the onions on the mandolin. wearing my anti-cut glove because I’m not an idiot, and then gently cooked them for at least an hour until they were nicely browned without being anywhere near burning, And then the home-made stock and the white wine were added and cooked for another hour. A long time for the simplest soup. But it was good.

Z remember, remembers

Last night, hearing fireworks being set off round the village, LT and I started to talk about various bonfire parties, whether organised ones or the back garden sort, that we’d been to over the years. He has blogged about long-ago ones in the past (link at the bottom) and I certainly have about family ones here, when they happened. Tim reminded me that we had a family party here three years ago.

Bonfire Night was never taken much notice of when I was a child, in fact. I gather that Wink, as a very small child, was chased round the kitchen garden by a Catherine Wheel that hadn’t been fasted properly to its post and my parents were put off completely: too risky. So it wasn’t until I had my own children that we did anything about it. The Sage’s father was born on 5th November – and known as Guy, which is quite odd when you think about what happens to the guy on the bonfire – so there was always a bit of a celebration here.

The firework parties that my parents held were grown-up ones and they took place in the summer. As you know from previous posts, our house Seaview was by Oulton Broad, opposite the park. The broads are the man-made lakes (made thousands of years ago) that link the rivers of Norfolk and, in this case, North Suffolk. In August, a sailing regatta is held every year, the small yacht club being at the edge of the park next to the marina. As well as all the yacht races and so on that took place on the water, there were all sorts of attractions in the park; stalls, funfair and so on and there were various evening entertainments, though I don’t know what, as we never went to them. My parents weren’t very interested in unsophisticated sorts of jollities and it never occurred to me to mind. I’m sure, if ever I’d asked, I’d have been taken along, though probably not by either of them.

Anyway, it ended over August Bank Holiday. This used to take place over the first weekend in August but changed, in the 1960s, to the last weekend. So whether the regatta changed then too or whether it had always been later in the month, I’m not sure. It was the end of the main holiday season and finished with a celebration – two of them, in fact, because for a time, there were two firework displays, on the Thursday and then – a bigger one – on the Sunday.

As our very wide garden with its Broads frontage was right opposite the park, it was an ideal place to set up the firework display. It was also a perfect opportunity for a party with built-in entertainment. Never any children of my age there – my parents’ friends were mostly my fathers’ age and, as he was over forty when I was born, they all had older children and it really wasn’t a kids’ do. But the fireworks were fantastic.

I can’t remember the name of the company, though it was the best known one at the time, but the chief firework technician’s name was Fred Faithfull and he became a friend. He and my parents exchanged Christmas cards for years and kept up with each others’ family news. Watching, from the house (we children weren’t allowed anywhere near), the displays being set up was fascinating for a curious child. There were two sets of poles with lines between, one being for the vertical strings of golden lights that I remember as Golden Rain, but surely not? The other had the set piece that ended the evening. On Thursday, it was simply Goodnight in fireworks but on the Monday, it was God Save The Queen. And as those fireworks burned down, we heard the roar of applause from the crowd on the far bank.

The fun was more than the fair and the fireworks, there were lots of boats on the water, all lit up. On Monday, there was the famous Burning of the Golden Galleon. I was told solemnly that the authorities went along the river checking for the most unkempt boat, which was commandeered and set fire to and I always worried that our old launch would be chosen. Of course, it was really a raft piled with scrap wood. It did look spectacular. It must have been secured between two boats so that it didn’t drift to somewhere it shouldn’t go, but that didn’t occur to us at the time.

They were great parties. I was more comfortable than many children of my age with grown-ups and was, in any case, quite happy to potter around handing out food and hanging out with the dogs. We went upstairs to watch the fireworks themselves, for the best view.

https://timbobig.blogspot.com/2014/11/is-it-over-yet.html?fbclid=IwAR1UcWVfnBSLQhXe-fHD9bWUeUFqnrrTmq2apzyM3HaUZ998t8ENdfFLpOM

Z on the move

The Old Rectory must have had a huge garden originally. They’d built a new house for the Rector next door, which was a spacious five bedroom house with a wide drive, double garage and a garden, and as well as our own big garden, there had been an orchard at the bottom of the lawn which, as I said, we sold.

We bought a greenhouse where I was able to grow tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and melons – and had to buy another smaller one a couple of years later because you could hardly get in the door by August for the lush vegetation. I put my tomato plants in there.

As I said the other day, we were there for ten years. But after seven years, Russell’s father died and the decision was made to move to the house where I live now. Ronan was born in the meantime, the annexe was built for my mother-in-law and considerable refurbishment was done to this house. We sold the Old Rectory to people we knew – he was an antique dealer, very successful at the time, though things went badly awry for him some years later. His daughter was the same age as Ronan and they were friends.

We moved the day before Ronan’s second birthday and they invited us back a few times for tea. When they’d done all the redecorating and so on, they gave us a tour of the house. It was spectacular. Gilding, painting effects, quite remarkable. Not to our simpler taste at all, but done with love.

We did well on the sale. That sort of house was in vogue by then and we made a sizeable profit, even after the work was done here. And that was 1986 and we’ve been here ever since. I realised, earlier this year, that I’ve lived here more than half my life.

It had taken me a long time to feel that I might ever make it my home. I used to find it dark and oppressive. My in-laws’ decor had something to do with that. The walls weren’t dark but the ceilings were low and the windows had small panes and the curtains had pelmets, which cut out a lot of light. But eventually I came to love it, or I’d never have suggested moving. We enlarged the windows, got rid of the yellow gloss paint that dear Ma thought would brighten the passageway and did various alterations, with listed building planning permission, to make it more comfortable. Ma only lived in the annexe for six months and died suddenly in her bed of a heart attack.

My stepfather Wilf had a heart attack himself, not long afterwards and it was recommended that they move to a smaller house, preferably a bungalow. So we offered them the annexe and they accepted. But that’s another story in itself. Nothing is ever simple in my family.

The Pakefield years

We lived at the Old Rectory for ten years. We bought it when Alex was a tiny baby, moved in just before Christmas the same year – 1976 – and I loved it.

I’ve described the house itself. It was light and sunny with high ceilings and lots of windows – draughty sash windows, but that was what I’d grown up with so it didn’t bother me. We bought a half-tester bed, which is like a four-poster except that it has two posts and a canopy just over the head end and I remember lying in bed watching the curtains billow when there was an easterly wind.

We’d stretched ourselves financially to buy the house. And we couldn’t really afford to heat it, so doors were kept shut in the winter so that no heat was wasted. There was central heating but it wasn’t used as much as it would be nowadays. I had a small grand piano – a “boudoir grand,” which is a size up from a baby grand, that was placed in the octagonal bay window in the drawing room. If I played it with the lid up, I could be heard all down the road, I was embarrassed to discover.

Once, I found a swift on the drive. It had crash-landed somehow and couldn’t get airborne again. I picked it up, beautiful little bird that it was, and it climbed up my arms with its curved, hooked claws. I carried it upstairs to our bedroom, which was above the drawing room and had a similar octagonal bay, and held it out of the window. It carried on climbing up my arm. But finally I persuaded it to to go the other way up to my fingertips and launched it into the air. It tried to fly, but dipped down towards the ground. I thought it would crash land again – but it just swooped upwards at the last moment and started to climb. It circled round and up, round and up and I watched as it rose higher, until finally I couldn’t see it again. It had left its calling-card … yeah, it had evacuated its bowels onto my arm. Insects. The outside skeletons of insects, black and bitty.

My mother and stepfather sold Seaview after a couple of years and moved out to a village on the A12 south of Lowestoft. My mother still had rather more dogs than was manageable in a smaller property, so we took one of them and my sister took another. Ours was a black and tan boy called Simon. He was a very nice dog, about the size of a labrador and he loved the children. My mother had too many dogs and he relaxed and was happy with us. I remember once, Russell had gone out with the children – Weeza and Al, that was, it was before Ronan was born – and I’d stayed in bed for some reason. Simon started howling at the window by the half-landing near the front door. He sounded wolflike and pathetic, full of self pity. I stood at the top of the stairs and said “ahem.” The sight of that dog jump, because he’d thought he was alone, and his embarrassed face was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Z doesn’t buy an eyebath

I really am getting a bit long in the tooth for this auction lark. There’s a lot to do afterwards. But anyway, it went pretty well. I had too much standard stuff, but I knew that. Three sellers put in much the same things and I hadn’t really known in advance that this was the case. But the nicest things sold pretty well, though prices have drawn in over the last few years, on the whole. Highest price was £3000 bid for a tiny, 5cm high eyebath. It was adorable and I wanted it. I’d already decided not to bid though, even before the commission bid came in. It’ll stay local, I’m delivering it to the buyer on Monday.

Over the next few days, I’ll write to all the vendors and pay them. I like to have all the paperwork done in a week, which is much quicker than any other auction house that I’ve ever come across. Tim is going to be away for a couple of days, so I’ll do the boring stuff then and be my usual vibrant self by the time he gets home *tongue in cheek emoji*

We’re hoping to get away for a couple of days in the next month, in fact. We’ll get planning when he gets back and I’ve finished the bookwork.

The chickens are all getting on reasonably well, though pecking order is still being established. Sadly, the three young ones that I thought were boys are boys. I really should learn that I’m right first time, but I can’t resist waiting a few more weeks until it’s obvious. I’ve never been wrong yet, though. What’s been different this time is that they’re 12 weeks old and they’ve never squabbled and they’ve never crowed. Their father ignores them or is tolerant. But that won’t last either. They’re such nice little chaps, I put off doing anything about it. Still, I have half a dozen little pullets, four of which are four and a half months old and the others are the sisters of the cocks. So, to be practical, they’ll lay eggs during the winter, when the big girls are off lay. Jolly good.

Family coming for lunch tomorrow. That’s jolly good too, I’m looking forward to it.

Back to the … present

It’s my Lowestoft auction tomorrow, so I’ll be busy. I have got everything packed and ready, remarkably enough. Last night, I thought I’d be scurrying around at the last, but a few hours were well spent this morning and, having been mostly awake since 4am, I had a nap in the afternoon.

I’m feeling more optimistic about the auction than I have in the last couple of years. The *political situation* – let’s not go further because, whatever our views, I think we can all agree that it’s been tricky – has cast a damper on the market, I’ve found. But, rather to my pleased surprise, it’s been like old times this week. I’ve got quite a number of bids in the book and several phone calls to make during the sale. I will have to be rigorous about that – none are for the same piece or within a lot or two, but I mustn’t lose track and forget anyone. I won’t, of course, but if I were the worrying sort (hahahahahahah…sorry, hysteria kicked in there for a moment) then I might lose sleep about it. I think that sheer whatthefuckery has taken over and people have shrugged and got on with their lives.

But on another tack entirely, I was listening to a radio programme yesterday. It was on a couple of weeks ago; I don’t listen to anything live but just download things. It’s a series called ‘That Reminds Me” and the tagline is “Well-known names reminisce and entertain with tales from their lives.” I don’t listen to all of them, but this one happened to be Nerys Hughes, the Welsh actress. She spent the first five minutes talking about Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas’s much-loved radio play. She said she’d played every female part, over the course of forty years, except the oldest woman – this recording was a repeat from the early 00s, so maybe she has done that too by now.

The thing is, she repeated the name of the play several times – Under Milkwood. I’ve always said/thought Under Milk Wood, with equal weighting to each word. But she should know, I suppose. I’ve never heard anyone call it Milkwood before, though. Any thoughts?

It made me think of other quirks of pronunciation though. For example, the actor/celeb/whatever Tim Brooke-Taylor. I don’t suppose you’ve thought about it but, if you have, you might have noticed that he’s always introduced as Timbrooke-Taylor. I assure you. And an actual mistake by the divine Delia Smith. She often has advised cooking with groundnut oil. Groundnuts are peanuts, of course. But she has always called it ground nutoil. Driven me to distraction for decades, that has.

Z on the move again

I found, in my email spam folder, a comment about my post about the Riviera hotel. I thought it was on the post itself so I deleted it and came here, but I can’t find it. Sorry Vagabonde. To reply, yes, my parents had a flat in the hotel. I’m told there was a roof terrace but I remember nothing about that. Apparently, I used to ride my trike round and my grandfather pretended to be a policeman and hauled me over for infringements (hitting flowerpots) and demanded that I give him my name and address. Which is a good way of getting a small Z to learn her name and address. And yes, it’s had a lot of money spent on it and it looks very smart, but I don’t get the impression that it’s very upmarket and, with its location, it really should be.

Anyway, back to the Avenue and the Old Rectory. As I said, I liked the house we lived in and we’d thought we’d live there a while longer, though we didn’t feel it was quite big enough as the children grew up. But then we went to view the house coming up for auction.

It was love at first sight. I’ve never had my knees buckle at first sight of anything before or since. But I walked in the front door and I went weak at the knees, quite literally. “Can we buy it?” All I’d seen was the hall and a glimpse of the drawing room.

It was a big, solid Edwardian house with high ceilings and generous lines. The hall floor was parquet and the broad staircase was to the right. Four steps to the half landing, then six, another turn, six more. Five doors led off the hall. To the left was the drawing room, which had a wonderful octagonal bay window, itself about eight feet in diameter – there was another one in the room above, then a turret above that. Then was a big study, about 20 feet by 12, then a fireplace, then the dining room. Behind the stairs was another room which had a window angled to face the drive, which had been the Rector’s study.

Through the fifth door was another small hall leading to the downstairs toilet and separate washbasin – these were by the second door to the study, for the convenience of any of his visitors. The back stairs used to be here too, but they’d been removed for some reason and boarded over. If you turned left instead of going straight into the back hall, the kitchen was on the right and the second door to the dining room on the left. The kitchen was huge. I can’t remember the dimensions, but at least 25 feet long and 15 feet wide. There was a walk-in larder at one end and, at the other, yet another small hall which led to a storage room and a laundry room as well as the back door.

On the first floor there were six bedrooms and then there were attic rooms on the floor above that. All the rooms had big sash windows and picture rails and downstairs the skirting boards were the deepest I’ve seen in any house. I fell in love.

There was a wall between the house and the roadway, which led to the Rectory, the village hall and the church. There was a grassed and pathed area there with shrubs and a tree or two, and a big semicircular rose bed by the gravel drive. It used to be a circle until they took a bit of the garden to build the new Rectory next door. The main garden had a lawn the width of the house plus the drive, with a slope up to the house itself. There was a huge horse chestnut and, next to it, an equally big beech tree. At the bottom of the garden was a small orchard.

This was in 1976, which big, draughty old houses were deeply unfashionable. We bought it for £21,000, which was more than we could afford. So we promptly sold the orchard for £12,000, just keeping a driveway down at the bottom of the garden. Three houses were built there in due course. We found a buyer for our house quite quickly – useful being an estate agent as you know who’s looking. The couple were in their second marriage and they each had two teenager from their first marriages. It struck us that we thought the house was a bit small for us and two babies, whereas they reckoned it was perfect for the six of them.

They asked us round for a drink after they’d moved in. Obviously, the reason it was amply big enough was because they didn’t eat together – the dining table seated four – but then, the children were not all siblings and I suppose they spent a fair bit of their time with their other parents. I exclaimed how pretty the dining room was – with all our furniture in there, it didn’t do the lovely wallpaper justice. They needed the fourth bedroom so removed my bathroom and they dug up my chamomile lawn and replaced it with grass.

Before we could move, though, we needed to have some work done at the Old Rectory. We had it rewired and the roof retiled. We also put in a second bathroom, with a sunken bath. I’d mentioned that the back stairs had been removed, but they had left a few stairs off the rear landing which led nowhere. So that’s where we put the bath and it was lovely. We didn’t need a toilet as there was a separate one from the main bathroom, which also had a washbasin. We also had a new kitchen. The room was far too big to be efficient so I created a room within a room. The sink was under the window, the cooker to the right, and two peninsulas to make up the rectangle. To the left, there was another small sink for hand washing and vegetable preparation. As in the last house, people could stand or sit the other side of the peninsula to help or just chat, and not get in the way of the cook. The only thing I got wrong was not putting in a dishwasher. The washing machine was in one of the back sculleries and the big chest freezer was in the other.

I wish I had photos, but I never took them. It was just home. I loved that house.

Z’s homes – The Avenue

As well as being an auction house, Russell’s business was an estate agency. There was a house that just wouldn’t sell. The owner had had nothing done to it for years and eventually he died. Whoever inherited it sold off most of the garden for building – two bungalows and three houses were built there, with their own little slip road – and the house itself languished unloved. It needed a good deal of repair. A couple of ceilings had come down during the war, though the house itself wasn’t hit, and they’d had temporary replacements installed, which had never been renewed. So, after several months, Russell decided to buy it himself. This was at about the time we got married and he got the structural work done, meaning to put it back on the market.

It’s a detached Edwardian house, so was then about 65 years old. It has a big bay window facing the road with a large porch at the corner, a good size kitchen, utility room, toilet, big square hall that is quite large enough to be used as a room, a sizeable drawing room and a slightly smaller dining room and, upstairs, four bedrooms and a bathroom – that last was rather small and uninteresting, at the end of a long passage. Outside, there was a small front garden with a cherry tree, a narrow flower bed and path outside the kitchen leading to a small square lawn and a patio, and a garage.

As I said before, I just didn’t feel at home in our first house. It just didn’t suit me, though I’m still not really sure why. So Russell suggested I look at the house in The Avenue, to see if we might move there. And that’s what we did. It was much more fun to plan decorations and a new kitchen than just to move into a house that wasn’t my choice. I was especially pleased with the kitchen, which I designed myself. I had a peninsula unit coming out into the room at right angles to the main window, which had the sink at the end. Standing at the end of that peninsula, the working area was to the right; first the sink and then all the worktop. Opposite on the right, was an alcove with the gas rings and cupboards underneath, an eye-level grill on the wall with an extractor fan above, and a separate oven, so that I didn’t have to bend down to it. Beyond that was a big walk-in larder.

I had an extra-wide work surface fitted to the peninsula so that it jutted several inches out to the left (that is, the other side from where I stood to cook or wash up), so that kitchen stools could be tucked underneath and, when you sat on them, there was room for your knees. To the left of that was the boiler and another seating area where we had breakfast. The wall opposite the window had wall cupboards – I always liked to have plenty of storage space. A builder friend of ours was impressed by the design and always asked my advice on kitchens in houses he was building. I don’t know how it was that I got it all right first time, I was only 21, but I was a keen and efficient cook, even in those days.

As i said, the bathroom was poky and not very inspiring and I wanted to change that; or rather, to have an entirely new bathroom. So we converted a bedroom into a bathroom/dressing room for me. We came unstuck over the decorations though. I chose a wallpaper in a dramatic jungly print, with lots of greenery and vines. We ordered it and waited, and waited. It was in the mid-1970s when industry in this country was in a pretty poor state. Relationships between management and workers were, in many factories, antagonistic and there were strikes on the one hand and unfairness on the other. You could go into an electrical showroom and see the fridge you wanted and order it, but it would take at least three months to arrive. And, having waited months, they finally said that the wallpaper was out of stock everywhere and had been discontinued, so I had to choose another one; which I can’t remember at all. We did have a really lovely dining room wallpaper though, in deep red and cream, and the hall was blue and white with a dark blue carpet that showed every bit of fluff and needed hoovering daily. The drawing room was painted pale green and we bought a beautiful Chinese washed silk rug for it, that is now in our bedroom. No idea of the colour schemes in the bedrooms, so they were probably neutral.

I was very happy there, with baby Eloise. We had nice neighbours and the house was stylish and comfortable. I planted a chamomile lawn and grew vegetables and herbs in the flower beds. Then I became pregnant again and Alex was born in April 1976. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember that this was a famously hot, dry summer. Being fair skinned and prone to burning myself, I worried that my babies would get sunburned and we didn’t take full advantage of the fabulous weather really; but then we also had another project on the go that year.

Alex was born at home, but not our own home. He was born at Seaview, my childhood home, where my mother still lived. She had just remarried in February 1976, to my dear stepfather Wilf Edwards. Will was thrilled and happy to be welcomed into the family, having lived alone for some years since he and his first wife had separated. Anyway, it was not too long after Alex’s birth when Russell came and suggested we have a little outing to look at a house that was coming up for auction – his partner did the property auctions. Russell was quite casual and relaxed about it, my mother was happy to look after the babies and off we drove.

It was another Edwardian house, a former rectory. I remember so clearly walking in through the front door for the first time. But that’s another chapter.

Smoke gets in Z’s eyes

The chimney turned into quite a worry. We waited a couple of days and then lit the fire again. After a while, it smoked heavily again. The sweep couldn’t come until Thursday and, on Wednesday, we tried again. It was fine for about twenty minutes and I cancelled the appointment, for quite five minutes; but then the room filled with smoke again.

It’s still a mystery. He swept the chimney thoroughly and almost nothing came down – soot wasn’t to be expected as he swept it back in the summer, but there was nothing untoward. The chimney had a stainless steel lining installed before we moved here, so 34 years ago and, as soot is corrosive, it’s possible that a new one is needed. This is a highly depressing prospect – not so much because of installing the new one, but getting the old one out. However, we gave it one more go … and the problem has been cured, it seems. Our theory is that a bird tried to build a nest and sticks got stuck, the first few fires we lit consolidated the debris so that, after a few times, it jammed the chimney. However, it was still gradually being destroyed by the fire and, when Leigh put his brush up, it flew up the chimney rather than down into the grate.

Not very convincing, I know, as an explanation, but it’s the only thing I can think of.

The chickens are still fine together, though the old ones are a bit unsettled by all these youngsters rushing round. When I go out to the greenhouse, the big black ones hurry up to me and tell me all about it. I’ve added a couple more perches, which has helped accommodation. There’s plenty of room but they don’t all want to cuddle up. The two big black hens are laying in the other greenhouse, by the grape vine; the big brown hen is off lay at present and I’ve no idea where, if anywhere, the bantams are laying. When we get a few days of bad weather, I’ll keep them in. Then, at least I’ll know if they are laying at all. Right now, they’re really not earning their keep.

The rain it raineth on the Z

It’s been really dry all summer. That changed today. There has been some rain over the past couple of weeks, which at least turned the grass from brown to green – it’s a marvel, how quickly it regrows – but today it bucketed down. Someone put photos on Facebook of the main Norwich bypass, which had to be shut as it was flooded.

We had a bit of that in the house. The join between the main old house and the built-on bit (about 28 years ago) has never been 100% but it’s usually dry unless there’s torrential rain with no wind: ie, straight down. And, the other day, filling in a gap where we don’t want birds to nest or bats to hibernate any more, nor draughts to freeze the study, we had some filler left over, so used it in the attic. And that seems to have worked but, all the same, there was a drip in the inglenook in the dining room, which I can’t explain as yet. I’ve learned to my cost (which is another story entirely and here is no place for it) that water needs to get away and stagnant water is the real problem, so a small amount every few years doesn’t worry me. Later, however, Rose’s Boy came through to report a drip in the annexe kitchen.

We’ve tracked that down in the attic too, and I’ll get the builder in to replace the tile, which must have cracked.

We relaxed with the remains of our lunchtime wine after that – it is Sunday, after all – and then we decided to light the fire as it was a bit clammy, if not actually cold. Within ten minutes, there was a worrying amount of smoke in the room. We’ve no idea but something is blocking it. The chimney was swept in the summer and it was fine yesterday when we lit the fire and it burned all evening. We hastily removed the logs and let it die down, and I’ve texted the chimney sweep. And turned on the overnight heater.

We feel that the elements are against us.

I didn’t let the chickens out today, as the forecast was so bad, but gave them lots of veggies as well as their normal food. I didn’t go out during the day, for obvious reasons (I’d have got soaked for no good reason) but, when I went to shut them up, they were nicely mixed up, young and old, on the perches. So they seem to have been okay.

Tomorrow afternoon, I have a training session in school on Safeguarding. I’d rather thought I’d left this sort of thing behind me. I’m going to get an ID card and had to send in a photo. The most flattering ID-type picture is my most recent passport one, but it isn’t exactly recent. Still, as long as it’s recognisable and it has the advantage of not making me look as if I’m in a police lineup.