08 November 2009

Remembrance Day 2009

Straight to the British Cemetery, Corfu, to honour the dead and light a candle on my father's grave, gone these 28 years and missing from my heart.

It is the first Remem' Day for Father Gulland and he acquits himself well.

The bugler is the same from last year and has a glorious tone. He plays both 'Last Post' and 'Reveille' from music but this year takes both at a ... I was going to say 'funereal' pace but that's how LP should be taken ... he plays them agonisingly slowly.

He remembers me from last year when I cornered him after and praised his tone and asked to come to any jazz gigs he plays at. He does not play jazz.

I ask him about the change of pace and whether the World Council on Tempo has downgraded the beat, or does his metronome simply need new batteries. He gives me a 'look'.

Then back to the church for canapés kai krasi courtesy of the Vice-Consularium. Our distractingly attractive V-C, Mrs Sarah Ticherou, is there and I ask her what the official line is on the recently found wreckage from the Corfu Channel incident.

She has not heard of it so I slip her one of the copies of Malcolm Bradbury's ace report which she reads with great interest and takes me a little more seriously than just another ogler and adorer.

BT-L takes me aside and tells me she is married. To a Greek. I tell him I know that and that is precisely *why* I press my attentions on her.

He gives me a 'look'.

Still basking in her gratitude for the Incident update, I wave at her and she waves back with a beatific smile.

"Oh God, that is disgusting," hisses BT.

Maman is in her element, be-ribboned with Dad's gongs and holding court as only she knows how.

Vicarine Mary Gulland has us all eating out of her hands and I feel my default iciness towards the clergy and all who sail in them begin to melt.

Will have to watch that.

My enemy is there and I make a beeline for him to engage him in my lightning chit-chat that he so despises.

He is soon for the boot by his coltish girlfriend but he does not know that and nor am I supposed to, except that I can keep my trap shut which makes me irresistible to gossipistas manquées.

He asks if dad's title made me anything on his death. I ask him does he mean did I sell it to some rich American and he stammers and says no, of course not.

I look grave and explain that I don't like to talk about it all that much. He looks surprised at my uncharacteristic modesty.

My mother looks so smart and so not her 89 winters.

My father would be proud of the way she has soldiered, hacking a garden out of the wilderness that is on the visiting list of all discerning gardening clubs.

I don't tell her this, children don't and there's the tragedy.

I want to write a Living Years song for her but every time I get close to the right chords and right words, I tear up, as Anna would put it.

The weather is clearing and the wine is going down and people are opening up and sharing indiscretions which is of course my b&b.

I am asked what am I "up to these days" and I answer with a different lie to each one.

I wander out to get the papers and a Greek woman stops to ask me if there's anything special going on, so many people. I search for the Greek for 'remembrance' but can't recall it.

When I get back I ask around and am told that there *is* no word for it. Hmm, rum. I must ask further. Sinbad would know but I am too proud to ask.

Maman is being surrounded by the happy-clappies so I tell her I am bringing the car, which I do but the handicapped space is hogged by a grim looking hag with the emergency lights flashing.

I tap on the wheelchair badge and look pleading and she nods and moves out without checking if the registration on the Rolls matches the number on the sign.

By now it is sunny and we drive home in sunny mood and chat merrily about the morning. I tell her she is looking absolutely stunning and the medals make her look like a Mistress Big despotine and all she needs is a pert cap with scrambled egg on the brim.

Home and the hound does his Baskerville thing, barking and snarling as he sees off the last of the (non-existent) intruders:

"See? Clean plate? Not a single Albanian in sight ... but it took some doing. Talk about the Alamo. They was everywhere, nasty buggers, too, didn't think I'd make it but training kicked in ... wossat, guv, a nice biccy? Don't mind if I do. All this killer mastiff stuff takes it out of a bloke, know wot I mean?"

We read the papers and irritate each other by interrupting each other's reading by reciting passages aloud that we'll come to anyway when we swap.

A light lunch as only my mum can whip up with wizardry and then I shuffle off with guitar to work on a song.

My composition palls and I sing some oldies that I wrote for my girls as they grew up and about which they feigned embarrassment at the time.

But when I sang a one for Anna at my Seattle folk club she stage-hissed that I hadn't explained it was for her.

"I'm sorry. I have a Spitfire daughter in the front row who wants me to tell you that I wrote it for her."

Straightening of shoulders, punch of air. High-five with her neighbour.

"Yaayy, dad! Way to go."

Remembrance.

Dept of Not a Lot of People Know This:

That frau Wilhelmine was Phil the Grik's nanny.

Quite a few Germans buried there - not any more, last calls called and also on purchasing ahead.

If you search this blog and my evil twin nonsense, Busker, you'll read my rants about how the wonderful George Psilas is criminally taken for granted incl zilch moolah for his efforts.

He has never been visited by the German konsul chappie out here, not even for formal ceremonies.

I worked on one of my mean-spirited prose gem razor jobs, not a word mis-chosen or out of place, incl how many times I had tried for an audience to discuss this disgraceful state of affairs, but then I lost my heart to une allemande  who asked me not to put the boot into her good friend and I wimped out.

4 comments :

Simon Baddeley said...

Your mam is a very beautiful woman.

Busker said...

Thank you, she is. Yes, thank you very much. And a v classy woman.
You and she would get on well.
In fact, you and yours would be the perfect guests at San Luca but I cannot cross the divide.
I am in a Perfect Storm quandary here in Prosperonia and my blogging is a lifeline.
One day you'll meet her and she'll ask you up and tell me about the charming couple she met, absolutely our types, we'll be formally introduced and that'll be it. Finito to my fave sparring partner, no more exchanges, ignore comments. My cool Sinbad homie will be an ex parrot.

Simon Baddeley said...

...or in the words of the Palin (quietly) "er...D'you.... d'you want to come back to my place?" It's 3.30 in the morn in Bendigo Oz and I was just skyping England and took a look at the parrot sketch. Sublime. Modern technology!

Busker said...

Yep, got it in one. Mod tech. Me n a pal from Hong Kong, we love the old Peter Sellers. I'd asked him 'wot abaht the workers' n jss like that he'd sped me another sktch, the Critics n Newton Tweadsdale of the New Onlooker n faith bradshaw "singe" n orft i went into a reverie.
good times, but does that mean we can no longer look forward to the future that is to come?