Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Water, water, everywhere

We are surrounded by muddy water. My boat is listing towards the stern - which means it's full of water - at least in the engine compartment and the storage area midships. Trouble is, we can't get to it to sort the problem out as the landing stage is nearly two feet under water now. Sonning Bridge closed again today - which means enormous traffic queues outside my flat in the mornings. I have to get up early tomorrow to allow for the queue as I have to be at my dentist in Oxford by 9am. Last night a big filling fell out of my mouth - big surprise - lucky I didn't swallow it!
The River and Rowing Museum was also surrounded by water today with the car park under water. Bad timing, as today was the day I had to collect all my paintings after the exhibition. We managed it however with the help of my neighbours Guy and Brian plus Robin - the 'man with the van.'
After all the sunshine in Singapore and Bangkok it's such a contrast to wake up to grey skies every day. This is my boat looking a bit sorry for itself at its mooring.


But I do like lots of work - I finished a portrait drawing last week and a miniature of a very pretty young doctor at the weekend. Now I've started a rough sketch for my cousin Paul in readiness for a full size portrait in the near future.

While on holiday last month, one of the books I read was 'The Railwayman' by Eric Lomax.


It's about the author's own experiences during World War Two in Singapore and Thailand. He was imprisoned in Changi gaol by the Japanese after they overran Singapore and Malaya. Then was sent to work on the construction of the proposed Siam/Burma railway. It's a harrowing tale. My young friend and I went to see the film last Friday. Although very different to the book it's well worth seeing. It also prompted me to search for a cassette tape I'd made a number of years ago. My neighbour at the time was a lovely old man - Douglas Clarke. Douglas was living in Kuala Lumpur in Malaya in 1942. He was 34 years old. I asked him if he would allow me to make a tape recording of his experiences during the war as he was one of the unfortunate ones captured by the Japanese and sent to work on the death railway - as it was called. I found the tape - it's about an hour long and tells his story. He describes how on the long journey through Malaya and on up to Thailand (Siam, as it was called then) many of the young men died. They were dressed in desert uniforms as they were on their way to the Middle East, but after the fall of Singapore were hastily re-routed to the Far East. Douglas spent over 3 years on the railway and as I fed him with whiskey - his favourite tipple - he became ever more expansive with his memories. Next morning his wife, Nan, knocked on my door saying she was very upset about not being asked to join in the recording session. "But I wanted Douglas to open up and be free to tell me what happened during his incarceration." I relied. Her response amused me. "I know a lot more about what happened to Douglas than he does!" It's a fascinating tape.
Two pieces of sad news last week - My friend Paul Daniels's mother, Nancy, died last week at the age of 97. And Vince and Annie Hill's son, Athol, died a few days ago. He was only 42 - much too young. Oh dear.
Well, that's a sad way to end this blog. Next time I should be more cheerful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is Bill Ok ?