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   Ken Fletcher spent a week with the editor and her teaboy this month, all of them in a merry alcoholic haze most of the time. If Ken’s doctor reads this he should realise that Ken can get very merry on Perrier water - probably!

   He made one trip into central London to see the dome but otherwise was content to be entertained by all that Finchley Parva can offer - a trip to the Old People’s Home to see Grannie Brand, a visit to St. John’s church and a Good Works fair in the grounds of Avenue House where he won several prizes from Pat Dunnill’s stall. He was even allowed to walk down the garden and watch Norman putting in his beans!

   Most exciting of all was the arrival of Alison, between rehearsals for Handel’s Jepthah and a flight to Spain with the Academy for a singing week. Subsequent tales via e-mail of playing cricket in her bikini with the String Section should not be gone into here.

    On the Thursday they all went to Hampstead, Jean and Ken visiting Keats’s house while Norman had his regular checkup at the Royal Free. Ken then took them to lunch in a Wetherspoons pub. It is important to keep Norman’s shares buoyant; he’s just received a dividend of 83p.

   It was a very convivial seven days. The Times crossword was completed daily at breathtaking speed, the editor being allowed to contribute a few solutions: one or two, much to her surprise, turning out to be correct.




   Norman has been helping our church warden, Michael Mellenfield, on his plant stall on Saturdays again. They sit side by side in their panama hats and greet the world as it passes. Norman’s last job of the day is to walk around the area taking down the PLANT STALL OUTSIDE CHURCH HALL notices but recently he has been finding them missing. Staff in red uniforms have been spotted in the early morning, diving out of their shop and, clearly terrified of the competition, taking them down. That “Sad Surrey Suburbanite” among our readers with a daughter on the board of B&Q might care to have a word!

   During the week Rip did keep appearing at various windows, hopefully brandishing his banner -GMARTYR FOR TRUTH - but Ken saw no need to intercede for him. Misprinting a Fletcher crossword and sending a string of excuses blaming everyone else on the editorial board is one crime too far, apparently.