The summer of 1914 in London, a tediously overcast yet fortunately dry one. A polar opposite to the devil dark storm cloud July Crisis in diplomatic circles across Europe that would soon spark ‘The War to End Wars’.
She was sat upon an Old Father Thames towpath newly painted wrought iron bench lobbing pieces of crimping’s from an obvious, to even my untrained eye, shortcrust Cornish Pasty to a mob of dabbling mallards to scoff upon on that day we first met.
As ever, upon my morning habitual constitutional and as was my want, good manners ensured I delivered her a cheery, ‘Good day’ notwithstanding her self-evident lack of decorum. Bare feet indeed, plus a rather risqué double skirted mid-calf dress, bright orange in colour of all things, although it did match her locks and galaxy of adorable freckles. Plainly she was fashioned from an unusual mould.
I was walking on by, Kew Gardens bound, when I caught her almost impudent, “Excuse me Sir. I need advice and possibly you can assist in that regard.”
Turning about face, my riposte, “Should such advice be within my gift you are welcome young lady. Pray what do you need to know?”
“The sun is due to make an appearance later I understand and my desire is to get a suntan upon the soles of my feet. The thing is I find myself unable to decide whether or not to stand on my head or lie on my back with my feet in the air. I mean either way the soles of my feet would face the sun, just not sure of the best option.”
“I think the latter, as the former methodology would likely cause you a rush of blood to the head and that would never do would it? Additionally, you may think in terms of common decency the act of your intention would be better enacted within the privacy of your own plot.”
At this she laughed aloud, afforded me the most captivating wide smile, “I’m an actress and when I said, ‘Excuse me Sir. I need advice and possibly you can assist in that regard’ I was merely reciting from memory my lines. That you responded allowed me to play a cheeky game. You have my apology Sir.”
She need not have apologized in this instance. Such is the sometimes alchemy of chance encounter I was besotted.
The black satin blindfold was your choice
and at your insistence you led the way
along the corridors of vague revelation
to the concert hall where the freethinkers pray
Theatregoers witnessed with unusual blind faith
a farce marketed as sombre tragedy
you played the flawless protagonist
I chose to overact nonsensically
Let others keep their world weary contradictions
for me, a flashback to the wild flower of your youth
lest you think our love was lost as I lay dead in the trenches
think again, it lingers on for keeps, my sweet darling Ruth