The two pictures on this page are affectionate thematic portraits of a lady called Liz who lived near John, Marion and their son James in the 1970 ‘s. Liz gave James piano lessons, much to his annoyance, but through this John got to know and be fascinated by her. The middle image is a detail of the left hand picture.

Some decoding is required to understand the images.


Alfred and Arabella were two spiders Liz named in order to humanise them. The reason for this was that James was terrified of spiders and these two lived in the window by the piano. Liz was certainly not about to evict them, so she told James that they lived there to listen to him play. James has always felt that this showed a terrible lapse in taste by the two spiders – James never did learn to play the piano, and is still terrified of spiders. Both Arabella and Alfred appear in the picture along with their webs. The door frame in the picture is not an invented feature but was actually a basic arbour. Hanging from the top beam are bird feeders. The shed to the left was a guest chalet, one half of which was a duck house for her two ducks Maudy and Lettuce (sadly not featured). The greenhouse is also real. At the bottom of the image are music sheets, a reference to the piano lessons. The second image includes a detailed depiction of Liz’s foot scraper, acting as a doorway in the image, doorways being a favourite theme of John’s. The apples ad sunflower seeds on the ground are an accurate reflection of the garden, as Liz always left some apples out for the insects and birds. Near the bottom left of the image is a pile of sugar. There were two piles of sugar left out, one for the wasps and one for the bees, and we are assured that these obliging insects always knew which pile was which and never tried to take from the wrong pile.