The memory whimsy

I was thrilled to find this picture the other day. I thought I had lost it forever. It was hidden inside my old school recipe book folder. I must have put it there at some point to keep it safe.

Dorothy1 and I were having a morning coffee and putting the world to rights. I was about to leave when she told me her TV had stopped working. I think it was something to do with being able to watch Freeview. She was quite frustrated about the whole thing. 

Dorothy had this way of making you help her with things she thought needed to be done. She was a force of will and it was really much easier to go with the flow and try to help than to refuse (I never did).

This particular problem was an easy fix (I thought to myself) as I had a spare television. I told Dorothy I would fetch it straight away.

Mission accomplished. TV installed and working; I returned to whatever it was I was doing before coffee with Dorothy that morning.

A few days later, and another coffee with Dorothy. She presented me with this sketch. She had drawn it entirely from memory. 

The most amazing thing about it is how she captured everything so vividly!

I was running down the street with the TV to her house, puppy Tisbury2 attached to me by a lead (he would chase the cats in the street otherwise), next to me is Maria holding a model boat which I had bought from my brothers auction3.

Maria and the model boat happened on a different day to the TV … this is Dorothy’s artistic licence coming in to play. Quite probably both episodes amused her and therefore needed to be included.

In the window of my cottage is my old cat, Cindy, watching everything impassively as she did. Even the dress I was wearing, over jeans, the foliage and fencing, bench under the window – its all perfectly reproduced in this little sketch.

A copy of this picture resides on Maria’s restaurant wall. Dorothy also designed the logo for Maria’s restaurant, Verdis 4, and more of her pictures line the walls in the restaurant.

She wrote on the back… in her laconic style. A note, referring to going to Wiltons Music Hall5, and the fact that the TV was ‘terrific!’…

Notes and nuances:

1 Dorothy
(By the Gentle Author)

Dorothy Rendell Artist

Dorothy Rendell’s East End Portraits

So Long Dorothy Rendell

An Exhibition of Dorothy Rendell

The Legacy of Dorothy Rendell

Dorothy Rendell’s East London

Dorothy Rendell’s Solo Show

Dorothy Rendell at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

2 Tisbury

Dorothy was very fond of Tisbury and considered herself to be his saviour after we both took an unforgettable trip to Essex one day to pick up an 8 week old puppy… (Tisbury), from a dubious location. ‘We can turn back now you know, we don’t have to go into this place!’ she declared… Dorothy ended up choosing Tisbury over the other two puppies there (I was struggling) .. Dorothy had Tisbury on her lap on the journey home as I had a 2 seater car at the time and nowhere else to put him. She was most valiant about his nervous puppy error when he wet himself!

Dorothy with baby Tisbury

3 My brother set up his own auction house, Charles Miller Ltd, in 2007. His first sale was on 17th July 2008. He specialises in marine, nautical, maritime and scientific antiques, historic collectibles, paintings and works of art.

I was an avid supporter from the start. Still am. I have attended most of his sales. I work on the telephones taking bids. 

In the early days I would find myself bidding on smaller lots – caught up in the excitement of the auction! And occasionally I would end up buying something I wasn’t entirely convinced I wanted! The model boat was one of these items. It was from one of the first sales. Although it was a beautiful boat and I bought it for a fantastic price. Maria heard of my predicament and immediately offered to buy it from me. I sold it to her for the price I paid. I believe she still has it in her front room.

Charles Miller Ltd’s next sale is on 7th July 2020. This year it will be a live webcast for the first time.

4 Verdi’s restaurant opened to critical acclaim. (

The Gentle Author wrote about Verdis on 3rd April 2018 (

5 Wiltons Music Hall … Dorothy enjoyed visits there very much. (

The picture is drawn on a piece of roughly hewn art paper and is mounted (by Dorothy) on a piece equally rough brown paper. I seem to remember her telling me it was the best colour she could find for the drawing.

Dorothy called this picture a ‘whimsy’

If you liked this story, you may also enjoy The much loved Cordon Bleu cookery book

About the author


  1. I’m so glad you found the print! I have one of your old business cards with that picture on….. somewhere. I also remember going to a silent cinema with live piano at Wiltons, maybe with you?

  2. lovely story but i don’t get any of these unfortunately even though signred but can read now – a great storyteller

    1. Hi Shelley I am sorry you aren’t getting the alerts about new stories. You will probably find them all in your junk email folder! I will try to improve this soon. I am glad you are enjoying the stories anyway!

  3. KIrsten Nelson says:

    Thank you so much for this delightful story and all it’s wonderful footnotes. When our daughter was younger, we saw a couple of very good LAMBDA performances at Wilton’s.

    1. Thank you Kirsten for your great feedback! Wilton’s was such s great place although it’s been years since I’ve been. I think at the time Dorothy was particularly enjoying a number of silent films with a live piano performance in the auditorium … I hope it’s still as magical!

  4. Well this is the best ‘whimsy’ I have ever seen! The sketch has such life in it and i love your portrait of the story behind it, as well as the interesting links to the people an places you mention in this post.

    1. Thank you Julia! Well I say that on behalf of Dorothy obviously!! Xx

  5. Fiona Larcombe says:

    What a joyous story. I love everything about it!

    1. Thank you Fiona I am thrilled that you like it! It’s so hard to know if anyone is enjoying what I write so I love it when I get some feedback! Xx

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