Time Past – 17

From the BFMS Forum Google Group (edited)

December 10, 2008: Bel Canto

Fifty years ago the Naafi coach was travelling through the night. In the dark villages the pub windows glowed warmly but we were on our way back to our RAF camp after weekend leave. The coach radio played Radio Luxembourg’s Top Twenty. Week after week I remember ‘Mountain Greenery’ (Mel Torme), Johnny Ray and Dean Martin (Memories are Made of This). Many of the songs were of longing and separation:  mercifully, in view of our youth, these feelings were not necessarily terminal.

It is the mellifluous bel canto of Dean Martin’s song which lingers with me tonight. The coach purred on, over the Cotswolds, into Herefordshire. Maybe, we thought, we’d get out for some scrumpy cider sometime in the coming week…. (eight old pence a pint).

The song lingers, 50 years on. With it there is such a very clear memory: of the dark countryside, the headlights, the sleepy hum of the engine.  No knowledge then of marriage, families and career to come – the gap between then and now.

We have a daughter whom we haven’t seen for  years and there is a gap between her memory of me and now, although it’s a small thing in the scheme of things. Last time she saw me I was a smoker.  She objected. In the period which followed I stopped. For 11 years. How impressed she would be, I thought, when she comes home.

In my 70s, however, I decided to take up a pipe. It was alight as I wrote this.

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