Smoke Control Association

Way back in 1998, when we first moved to the UK, my first job was in London and we were living in Keinton Mandeville, which is near Yeovil. All of a sudden we found ourselves having to move. Mirinda drove into London in the Car With No Name.

It was quite harrowing as we first stopped at Hampstead Heath where the planned accommodation was rejected. The second stop was Maida Vale where we stayed in a nice little B&B for a few nights.

Having left Maida Vale for, firstly Surrey then a brief visit to Sussex, we returned to Surrey, where we have been ever since. Mirinda swore she’d never drive to London again. She came close when we visited Ben and Monali in Wandsworth but, basically, she’s held true to her promise.

Until today. Because, today, she drove to the flat in Canary Wharf.

She hasn’t been to the flat since March and was worried that she’d left the lights on. I can’t remember the last time I visited the flat and was worried that some new life form could have evolved from whatever organic matter was left in the fridge.

As it turned out, she had turned the lights off and, apart from some well passed its use by date stuff in the fridge, there was nothing alive. In fact, I can highly recommend those smelly stick things that sit in a jar of oil. There’s one in the bathroom which managed to permeate the entire flat, making it smell as good as when we were last there. If you could get one that smelled of baking bread, it would be quite freaky.

We were there to pack things up and throw things out ahead of possibly renting it out. Mirinda figures that with all her working from home which isn’t likely to stop anytime soon, we might as well let it generate some income.

So today was about checking it was okay and getting it prepared for some sort of invasion.

The traffic in had been pretty good. No real travel problems, though the Blackwell Tunnel was a bit bumper to bumper. Even so, it was not stressful and we made pretty good time. At one point there was a van in front of us littered with labels. I have no idea what company the van belonged to but there was one intriguing sticker that I just had to look up.

The sticker was for the Smoke Control Association. The SCA is an organisation devoted to making ventilation systems as effective as possible. The members are people who have worked in the industry and, therefore, know what’s what and which is safest to breathe. They work with the government in order to create more red tape which keeps us all safe.

Anyway…

The drive home was a bit different. Just at the point where the M25 and the A21 part company, the traffic just stopped. Eventually we found the cause. A tanker had broken down in the left hand lane and was surrounded by barriers and highway patrol vehicles.

Still, it didn’t hold us up for long and we were soon home to two very excited cockerpoos.

I have to say that I was very proud of Mirinda. She managed to overcome her dread of driving into London and managed it all (mostly) calm, cool and collected.

By the way, in one of those strange quirks of fate, the Car With No Name died at Yeovil on a later trip to Cornwall. We had bought it from a Yeovil car yard and, like an elephant, it had clearly gone home to die.

Today, this happened

In 1956, in Germany, a film was released today called The Story of Anastasia. It was the story about a young woman who was pulled out of a canal in Berlin who later claimed to be Anastasia, the daughter of the executed Csar Nicholas II of Russia. Or the composer Tschaikovsky.

The film told the story of the young woman who came to be known as Anna Anderson, who had attempted suicide by throwing herself into the canal in 1920. She was saved by a policeman who later, possibly regretted his actions. Put into a mental asylum, she refused to tell anyone her name.

Eventually she agreed to be known as Fräulein Unbekannt (Miss Unknown) until, eventually, claiming she was Anastasia. This claim made her internationally famous even after a private investigation proved she was actually a Polish woman called Franziska Schanzkowska who had a long history of mental illness.

She eventually died in 1984 but not before marrying American history professor Jack Manahan who it was said was “…probably Charlotteville’s best loved eccentric.” The couple lived out their days amid dogs, cats and piles of squalor. They apparently ignored the piles of money.

Although proven on a number of occasions that she was not Anastasia, it didn’t stop many people continuing to believe her story and fight for her right of recognition. This was even after she also claimed she was related to Tschaikovsky.

I have no idea whether the film was any good but Lilli Palmer played Anna. She started at the Moulin Rouge, went to England to star in films, returned to Berlin to be a big star then went to Hollywood where she eventually married Rex Harrison.

While in America, Lilli made a lot of films and TV programmes. Most notably, she appeared in two episodes of The Love Boat in 1984.

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