I went to see a very old man today. I used to drive him to and from our local Day Centre. I called, by arrangement, at his Care Home, and he wasn’t there. He was ‘at lunch’ the staff tactfully told me.
Yes, he was – and I rejoice for him. He told me later that a woman friend had called, without notice, to take him out to lunch. I was glad for him, although he was very firm in pointing out to me that his visitor was simply a friend.
If he had found himself double-booked, my view is: good for him.
This very old man is a few months short of his 100th birthday. As a young man he had spent most of the war as an agent for the Special Operations Executive, having parachuted into occupied France. On the rare occasions when he wears them, his suit is festooned with medals, including the Legion of Honour.
Tonight in my garden I watched great clouds, mottled with grey and glowing from the evening sun, sail across the sky from the South West. The warm wind carried with it the June scent of mock orange. My little wilderness of dog rose, elder, herb robert and foxglove flourished after all the rain. The Devon wild iris are finished and I may drop a few seeds into the river from our town bridge.
And yes, I did recall Vera Lynn’s song: ‘There’ll always be an England.’ We have to thank my old friend and his contemporaries for that.