The second Lockdown has temporarily drawn a halt to my burgeoning career as one of the Ladies That Lunch. Being me, however, I wasn’t going to let this get in the way of my weekly “me time” when the Lovely
Kay comes in to keep Mr B company while I take myself out and about.
It being Armistice Day, I determined to take myself on a Remembrance Trail around my home
town and while I usually crave company, somehow today solitude seemed appropriate. It meant I concentrated more, rather than chattering away and failing to see what was right under my nose. Yes, it happens.
We watched the TV coverage together, Mr B and I, and I was moved to tears by Cerys Matthews’ reading of a war widow’s lament, so sure that it was her dear husband buried in the Abbey among the “drowsing poets
and dozing saints” of Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s poem of the day. Socially distant but emotionally so very close at hand.
So I took myself off
to town, promising to take lots of photos to show Mr B when I returned, already planning my own Remembrance Trail as I drove into a near-empty town centre car park. First stop, the Town Hall bedecked with knitted poppies which also decorate the countless
wooden crosses on the grass verges. I study the adjacent War Memorial to find the name of Arthur Pickering - “Arthur the Artist” whose case study I wrote for the Great War Project - I feel as if I know him personally. I take a photograph to send
to his granddaughter, Jane, so that she will know I haven’t forgotten him. Pupils of local schools and nurseries have added hand-made poppies to the display: “We Remember,” a childish hand has written on the tribute from The Rascals Pre-school.
My next stop is Beach House Park, where I stop by the Memorial to the Warrior Birds who flew back and forth from the fighting fields carrying vital messages which saved lives.
On my way I pick up a take-away coffee from the Palm Pavilion and note that it is still open, serving take away lunches, including sausage or bacon sandwiches. Reluctantly I have to forego the pleasure, as I have a packed lunch with me - but I make a mental
note for the future. It is the least that my stomach of which, as regular readers well know, I Am Always Thinking, would expect of me.
I make sure to walk through
the fallen leaves, kicking them up as I amble along, remembering that this is how my Little Sister always knows that her November birthday is approaching. Just a few more sleeps! Armed with my coffee, I take a seat next to the beautifully imaginative memorial
garden commemorating the soldiers who died in the Battle of Boar’s Head in June 1916 - known, poignantly, as “the day Sussex died.” You will be pleased to hear that I am not alone in my contemplation: a large black crow stands motionless
to one side as if on guard. An even larger sea-gull, taking note of the egg sandwich I am unpacking, hovers around me, expectantly, unaware that it is to be disappointed. Best of all, a friendly squirrel scoots through the garden and perches on one of the
wooden memorials which mark the names of all those who died on that June day.
I just have time for a stroll along the sea-front before heading back to the
car park and home. It’s been a poignant but a very special “time out” remembering those for whom time ran out on distant battlefields, those who never came home.
Lest we forget...