A Recent Distant Memory”
Solihul, near Birmingham, U.K. 2007
Some unexplainable feeling of the past came swimming over me whilst laying on our hotel bed in Newcastle, on our recent tour of the UK. With the strain of constant travel and appearances, you end up worn down and tend to grab, with a passion, any extra moment of sleep. It was one of those deep sleeps that I woke up from in the hotel. Slightly anxious, I just happen to glance at the coat rail in the corner to the right of me.
Hanging there between my overcoat and my lovely pure wool jacket, hung my absolute replica of my R.S.M. Benton British Army uniform jacket, bought last year in a second-hand shop in Fisherton Street, Salisbury. My eyes went straight to the Sergeant chevrons on the sleeve, and in my half-asleep state what followed was almost like real life, but rearranged by time and location.
My uniform turned my mind instantly to that not of the man who played Sgt. John Benton in a television show, but that of my father, back in 1939, who volunteered to go to war on our behalf to fight our deadly enemy, the Nazis. Poppy Day was coming up the next week, so my thoughts were turning often and easily in that direction.
For several moments it was as though I was going off to war. I looked at Jennifer sleeping next to me in such a different way. I felt all the sadness that must have been present in great quantities when in the reality of war when men said, in many cases, their last goodbye, and I cried. How sad I felt.
How strange that a jacket from my acting past developed into a somber, surrealistic moment in time that was generated by linking the moment. It truly was a realistic juxtaposition of time, frame of mind, and Poppy Day, which always breaks my heart with sadness (mixed with pride at my heritage).
© Copyright 2011 John Levene Sgt. At Arms
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