It was lovely listening to these folks as I waited for the bus opposite the Park this morning.
A Memoir of 1968
The dusty road had held us all day long. Huge trucks belching choking fumes had raced past us, barely missing our outstretched thumbs by inches it seemed. Sometimes they blared their industrial strength horns at us, scaring us, pushing us away from the road edge. There had been very few cars, and those mostly tiny SEATs already filled with farmers and dogs and kids, and certainly not looking to pick up two hippies dirt-encrusted from too much unsuccessful hitchhiking.
I guess we managed to walk three or four miles that day, in the blazing sun, just south of Valencia. We had expected better luck (“Gibraltar by evening!” had been our war cry as we emerged from a night in a roadside culvert) and had not prepared for such a long long day trudging through heat and dust and flies. We were exhausted, and more, we were dehydrated, the half dozen blood oranges we had each consumed notwithstanding.
Ahead of us we could see the outskirts of a village, and a village meant a cafe and Coca-Cola and even iced water, perhaps. It was one of those days when we knew we were willing to spend a few of our remaining pesetas. We stumbled forward, the dust scuffing beneath our feet, coughing. We must have looked liked ancient mummies straight from the desert as we finally collapsed into the two canvas chairs set out under the tin-roofed patio of a tiny cafe. I can only imagine the thoughts that were flowing through the old man’s head as he took our order for two Cokes.
We had been sitting for some minutes before we realized that an old radio was scratching its way through the late afternoon heaviness. And it may have been a minute or so more before we understood that it was speaking to us in English. American Forces Radio, probably from Germany. “…And as the crowds begin to gather from all across Memphis, we remind our listeners that President Johnson will speak to the nation this evening, on this day when Dr Martin Luther King has been shot and killed on his hotel balcony…”
The Cokes, glistening as the ice melted down the sides of the bottles, stood unremembered as our tears washed black gullies across our cheeks.
Sixty years ago at Easter, my father dressed me in a warm coat and, with my grandfather — they were both Labour Party activists — walked me the short block to Chiswick High Street. There, we joined thousands of the curious to watch go by the first Ban The Bomb March from Trafalgar Square in central London to the Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory. Some in the crowd cheered, most watched in silence. My father and grandfather cheered and clapped and I cheered and clapped along with them.
This Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was a very new animal on our streets. A new Campaign needed a new symbol, and it was for this very march that Gerald Holtom devised the famous “peace sign”. He took the semaphore signals for “N”uclear and “D”isarmament and put them in a circle to represent the earth. And I was there at its public birth. If only my memory were sharper!
I took a walk around the neighbourhood today, taking advantage of the splendid weather. I have been sedentary most of the winter, so it was a lovely feeling to catch up with the streets and buildings once again.
Perhaps it was the startlingly clear bright light, after so many months of grey and gloom, but I really hadn’t noticed before just how blue the house on the corner really is. I love it!
Nor how yellow this block on Salsbury:
That’s the way to brighten up a neighbourhood!
The birds have been flocking to our feeders this winter, and they are mighty welcome. For only the second time in three months, we had a gorgeous Northern Flicka here this morning. Unfortunately he was too skittish to allow me to close and get pictures.
I was luckier with this guy …
He and his partner have been around for the last few weeks. It looks like a dove when flying and walking, but its colouring was more like a pigeon. However, the colours and patterns didn’t fit seem to fit either with any certainty. Now, I have finally figured out it is a Eurasian Collared Dove.
They are more than welcome whoever they are!
The ever-loving and I were in Pacific Centre mall and decided to get some coffee from the food court. It was busy and we shared a table with a couple of young Japanese kids who were eating large plates filled with Chinese food. One of the kids didn’t eat much of his and after a while most of his order was left sitting on his plate.
I watched a street person take a soda cup from the trash, clean it out the best he could, and then get a free drink at the refill station. Enterprising, I thought. He then came over to our table and politely asked the kid if he had finished his meal. When that was confirmed, he took the plate of food and his soda over to another table and began to eat.
Excellent, I thought; that meal isn’t going to waste.
A minute or so later, a bunch of mall cops showed up. They were after someone in the A&W line, but the street guy got nervous, took his soda and left in a rush. The Chinese food still sat on the plate.
Almost immediately a chap came along who looked for all the world like an affluent student. However, he fished a clam-shell container out of the trash and cleaned it off. Then he sat next to where the plate of food was sitting. Over the next few minutes he gradually incorporated the plate into his sphere, sliding it closer and marking off his space with his small bag. He then proceeded to fill the clam-shell with the Chinese food and walk off.
One meal, three users. That is efficient food distribution!