Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Long Time Ago

Wednesday, 23 February

My Darling Eileen

It's the anniversary of my father' death. 

Fifty years ago today - to the day.

It's a day and a date which, like a much more recent day and date, will forever be part of me.

While I have clear memories of that day and the funeral that followed, my memories of the previous Saturday - the 18th February - are just as vivid.

I was playing rugby for London Irish that Saturday afternoon.  Quins away. 

I was in the dressing room getting changing after the game, when one of their officials popped his head around the door.

'Is there anyone called Trevor Kane here?' he asked.

I said it was me.

'We've had a phone call saying you're to go home immediately.  Your father is seriously ill.'

I can still recall the next couple of hours  as if it was yesterday.

Rushing to the station; the train to Waterloo that took for ever to get there; the mad dash down the escalator to the Northern Line platform; the inevitable wait for a Barnet train; coming out of  Highgate station and racing down through Queen's Wood and back to 72 Onslow Gardens. 

It seems George and Belle, my uncle and aunt, had got the message around 11.00 that morning but I had already left for the game by then.

It was only when they thought to ask you that they learned I was playing rugby.

But you didn't know where, only that I was coming home after the game and planning to take you out that evening. 
They had eventually tracked me down after ringing round all the grounds where a London Irish team was playing that day.

Remember this was long before mobile phones.  Your mother and father didn't have a land line then, only the Bebbs downstairs at 72 did.

I got their permission and rang home. I spoke to my mother and told her I was on my way.

She said there was already a seat booked for me on the 9.30pm (and last plane) to Belfast that evening and a ticket waiting at the BEA (as it was then) desk at Heathrow.

By then it was after 7.00.  How on earth was I going to catch it? 

That's where you stepped in.

You had already spoken to Cedric, your family's friend from up the road.

In minutes I had packed a bag and you and I were piling into the front bench seat of Cedric's large American car.

We set off on on what, recalling it now, was one of the hairiest drives of my life - and yours too I should imaging.

Even back then, Saturday nights were always busy on the North Circular Road and this was long before it was widened, or further on, before the M4 was built.  

But using his knowledge of all the back doubles and short-cuts from his day job as a goods-vehicle driver with BRS - and, I must confess, by driving like a maniac - Cedric got us there..

Leaving Cedric parked in front of the terminal you and I raced in and up to the BEA desk.

As soon as I mentioned my name, a stewardess said, 'Mr Kane, we've been holding the plane for you.  It's just about to depart.  We'll need to hurry.' 

There was only a moment for you and I to have a quick 'goodbye' kiss before she whisked me away.

As I ran down the corridor alongside her, I remember glancing back and seeing you still standing there, a bewildered tearful look on your face.

Can only imaging what thoughts were going through you mind just then.

Concern for me, obviously, and what I would face when I reached home later that evening.

But was there something more.

We hadn't know each other long but we both felt there was something - something much longer-lasting - there.

Did you wonder, just then, if this would change things between us.

Would I even be coming back to London or would I be staying at home?

Would we ever see each other again?

Well, as you know, I did come back.

And things worked out just as we hoped and knew they would.

But that's another story.

One best left for another time and another place for the telling.

So miss not having you around - to talk to or to hold.

Will love you
For ever.


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Moments Like This

Wednesday, 16 February

My Darling Girl

It was Valentine's Day on Monday.

Know that we hadn't made a big deal of it for quite some time. 

Too commercialised we both felt agreed. 

And we didn't need to be carried along on the flood of 'hype' that it has now become, to confirm what we knew was there between us from the start and always would be.

This year I was very aware for the first time that we were not together to even make a token nod in its direction. 

Don't know what happened last year.  Think it just got lost in the sea of raw emotion that immediately followed you leaving us.

Well on Sunday morning I was listening to John Pizzarelli's programme from my favourite Toronto jazz station in the background.

Naturally, being so close to Valentine's Day, he was playing a nice mix of tracks around that particular theme.

Just as he was coming to the end of the programme, he played a super Tony Bennett track.

It was called 'Moments like This' and came from his album 'The Art of Excellence'.

It was a track and an album I was unfamiliar with. 

Not unsurprising really because, when I went looking for it on Amazon, I discovered it was one he had released way back in 1987.

Don't know how we missed it at the time, but as a reviewer on Amazon says 

'This is hands down, one of the most beautiful, artful albums ever recorded by any artist in the world, EVER!!! From first track to last, I have rarely heard more effortless, emotional singing from Mr B.'

When I listened to a few sample tracks I knew I had to have it. 

So I downloaded it immediately. 

(No more CDs cluttering up the place you'll be pleased to know.)

The reviewer on Amazon got it absolutely right.

No-one does this type of gently-swinging love songs better than Bennett.

It has those soft 'dancing' arrangements that encourage a dimming of the lights and a gentle smooth around the floor.

My regret is that we missed it the first time around and that you are not here now to do that with me.

This is what Valentine's Day should really be all about.     

Have to say that when I listened to it in full for the first time there was more than a little moisture at the corner of my eyes.

There was even more reason for this than just the lovely music and you not being here for us to share it together.

Track three is a song called 'Come a Little Closer' and it immediately brought to mind that first warm summer evening we met and I was saying 'Good Night' to you on the front doorstep at 74.

Mind you I wasn't quite sure enough of myself to put it quite as confidently like that, after we had shared our first gentle kiss.

If I remember, I said 'You could come a little closer' giving you a little room for to decline the invitation if you wished.

Which I sincerely hoped you wouldn't. 

And you did come closer - a lot closer. 

And that's how it stayed for virtually the next fifty years, my lovely Valentine.

That's what you always were and always will be.

Love and miss you so much.

Yours, forever.