Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Remembering Gordon, Who I Never Knew."





I had a cousin called Gordon ( decades older) who was shot down in his plane over Russia in the 2nd World War. His body was never found. All this, before I was born.

In Dovey's orchard next door, where my brother and I played secretly as children, there was the smashed cockpit of a plane. It had rested there for years; my father said so. It was rusty and battered. We left it alone. We always left it alone. We looked from afar.

We stared down from the top of the conker tree.. in our grey flannel shorts, our striped Ladybird T shirts...and we spoke of the cockpit in hushed voices and we dared not look inside it. Our friends were in awe. The cockpit stayed in Dovey's orchard for years. And it filled our thoughts for years, stirred our dreams as to its origins, its passenger; as to who he was.....this pilot, who certainly died.

This past week, I've watched News at 10 each evening; not particularly on purpose, it's just happened. But I'm glad it's happened. At the end of each report, there's been something about the oldest soldiers, those who fought in World War 1 and are still living; I think there are seven left? It's been irresistible viewing; it's brought home once again how lucky they've been, how marvellous their long long years since 1918 have been...but most of all, it's shown how vividly they themselves appreciate the luxury of having these years, their LIFE. And it's brought home to me how essential our appreciation of these amazing men must be.

And I've thought of Gordon, the brief glimpse he had of life...and I've thought a lot about the man in the cockpit.....whoever he may have been.

IN COMPLETE CONTRAST and yet there's a theme....
We went to the seaside this evening. ( I'm writing much later) We went to Rhyl, a seaside town in North Wales. Strange activity for a chilly November night, you say. We went to see " Ladysmith Black Mombasa" in concert at the Y Pafiliwn Theatr. This group includes the leading man and his four sons. Their singing was wonderful, as was their dancing.
And they talked of South Africa, of troubled times, of peace, love and harmony....all this on Remembrance Sunday.
AND I'm sure they realised the aptness of the occassion...

The print is "Poppies" by Vincent Van Gogh.

5 Comments:

Blogger Anne Brooke said...

Yes, it's a very moving occasion indeed - it's a shame that there are so few of these old soldiers left now. They have so much history in them.

A
xxx

10:10 pm  
Blogger Philippa said...

Jan, how moving to read this blog. Quite often I think about my 'uncle' Gordon who, incidentally, would have been 84 in July, and wonder what he would have done with his life after the war. No doubt he would have married and had a family and given me some cousins (I have too few of them). Mum always reminded me that he was an avid Everton fan, his favourite player being Dixie Deans, so, no doubt, we would have swapped stories about football, the FA cup and life in general. Why is it so strange to miss someone so much that we have never met?

5:24 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

AnneB:
I suppose that's why the piece on NewsAt10 was so special. Thanks, Anne.

Philippa:
I hear what you say about missing someone you didn't know...it's the loss, isnt it, the feeling that there may have been some special empathy, plus the sadness that they missed so much...
Dad talked about Gordon a lot, as I know did your mother.
Aunty Polly ( your grandma) and Uncle Ted were so brave as were so many families..And I wonder how they felt when Gwenda went to Canada? Families...!

9:52 am  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Ah, there's a story there for you--the rich, strange feeling of the machine in Eden, the children watching and knowing those spiderthreads of connection.

3:32 pm  
Blogger Jon M said...

A moving post. My father was 'older' when I was born, he's 87 now and this time of year always resonates.

9:22 pm  

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