Generally speaking, Mr B and I would be at the heart of any celebrations. Today’s special events marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe, however, have been somewhat muted in our house. I have
hung up on our front door a massive Union Jack (last used in 2012 when the Olympic Torch Relay came to neighbouring Arundel and at the subsequent Games themselves) but unfortunately the box of festive bunting, Union Jack hats and red, white and blue tableware
have all been stored back in our newly-insulated loft. I thought I wouldn’t need them until the next Jubilee, having forgotten all about VE Day. Apart from anything else, I had assumed that the next time I needed to summon up Patriotic Paraphernalia,
there would be lots of family members around to assist in its retrieval. I hadn’t bargained for being Locked Down in Not So Splendid Isolation...
I am grateful
to see that members of my family are keeping up the tradition of celebrating in style so I can easily imagine myself joining in their own festivities. I am like Banquo’s ghost (though a benevolent spirit) lurking in the driveway of my Little Sister’s
home, secretly helping myself (albeit vicariously) to one of her scrummy looking scones. I am an invisible guest at the table where my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys are tucking into a feast outside their home in Cardiff; in the back garden with Team Baldwin
whose table is bedecked with spring flowers; and with the Rascally Trio and their parents joining in the fun with socially distanced neighbours in their cul de sac.
I did have a thrilling moment witnessing a wartime Spitfire in a flypast over our garden on its way to the Care For Veterans home at Brighton. Matt Next Door had messaged me to give me an approximate TAO (Time of Arrival Overhead) and suggested I listen
out for the sound of the Merlin engine. Unfortunately, being me, I wasn’t completely sure what a Merlin engine sounded like, and kept haring out into the garden every time someone nearby started up their lawnmower. It was quite alarming, each time I
heard the lawnmower cut out as I stared skywards...
Then, like magic, the Sound of Merlin - and our neighbours, hanging out of their bedroom window, did their
best to direct my line of vision. It was reminiscent of my monthly Birdy Group outings when my fellow birders endeavour (not always successfully) to point out the feathered friend hiding in the branches of a tree high above me. I did, however, catch a brief
but spell-binding sight of the legendary aircraft, wheeling away in the blue, blue sky. A special moment.
In Lockdown, Mr B and I have been grateful for today’s
television coverage which has given us an opportunity to witness the ways in which the day is being marked across the country and the world. I’ve been thinking of my dear Dad, departing for an unknown destination and leaving his beloved wife and adored
two year old son. My mum wrote: “He went, and we never saw him again for four years, nine months and three weeks ...a lifetime.” The anguish in her voice is as clear today as all those years ago.
Later this evening, after we have listened to Her Maj, I will push Mr B in his wheelchair to the front door to sing “We’ll Meet Again” with as many of our neighbours who want to share the moment. It will
be a fitting finale to a day which for us has been a chance to contemplate a historic time and to think of those who didn’t return as well as those who did.
my dear Dad did return - not only did he meet again with his wife and boy but also with a second son born not long after his father’s departure and who had never met his daddy.
What a meeting that must have been!