• Upcoming trips

    Feb 3 - Feb 13 Caribbean cruise May 1 to May 14 London vacation. (Hotels and details later). Hope to see you all then.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    December 7. Went to the Met to see the abridged version of “The Magic Flute”. We have seen this production before and still the charm of the great puppet characters keeps the children in awe and their parents happy with their parenting. An amusing interlude.

    December 9. Saw the Manhattan School of Music’s production of “Cendrillon” by Nicolo Isouard at the Florence Gould Hall. The MSM is having both its concert halls renovated and is using outside premises like the Alliance Francaise’s hall. The School and its talented young students put everything they have into this production; Scenery, lighting, costumes and acting was superb. As was the directing and conducting. Refreshing also, was that the cast was of the age to be convincing in their parts.

    December 10. The first of the “Peoples Symphony Concerts” this season (Their 118th year!). “The Variation String Trio” did the honours accompanied by guest pianist: Orion Weiss. Their programme included a new work by Nina Young (b.1984) Very interesting, but not, I think, a world-beater.

    December 31 Went to the Kaye theatre at Hunter College  to see the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of “H.M.S. Pinafore”. Cast and orchestra captured the high spirits of the musical romp and the sets were surprisingly professional. Reminded me of the old Sadlers’ Wells days,

    January 2, 2018. Saw the Met’s “The Merry Widow”. During the first act, the acoustics left a lot to be desired and words were difficult to hear, even in English. But all went well in the second and third acts; the Russian style dancing was rousing and the sets were spectacular. There are usually only six ‘Grisettes’ (Can-can girls) on a regular stage, but the Met’s vast space seemed to be full of them; three, even, descending from the top of the proscenium arch! All with their frilly knickers a-shaking

     

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Peter

The Passing of a lifetime friend 

Scan23000 miles away, while I was on my fishing trip, Peter died.

Jean, his widow, left the devastating message on my answering machine—It was the only thing she could do.

 

When first I listened to it, I  thought that the news was about a traveling acquaintance but with the realization that it was my Peter who had gone, the chemistry systems went into instant overload and I was reduced to a palpitating jelly. The whole range of emotions soared and waned with every remembrance that raced to my mind. It was not the same ‘utterly emptiness of life’ shock which the loss of a spouse brings about. I have experienced that and Jean must be feeling it terribly now. But complicated by thoughts of life’s lottery which allowed Peter and I to come out of the war more or less unscathed while thousands died around us. The lottery which allowed us to meet throughout 70 years or so without shaking hands—our friendship didn’t need a gesture to reinforce it. 

Of course, part of the emotional upheaval was due to thoughts of one’s own mortality. Peter was about two years older than I, and, as we aged, those two years seemed to become more and more significant for both of us. He was always a shining marker post ahead of me. And now he is gone. 

We first met at the recruiting office of the Territorial Army in 1939. I was a callow youth of 18 while Peter was a mature, well-traveled man of 20. (He had already been to France twice). I had joined up for the gung-ho feeling and he (Thinking man) was joining up in a non-combatant Corps so as to avoid being sent to an infantry regiment when the imminent general call-up came about. Here is an example in which, giving the lottery a nudge led to a very chancy result—but who knows what the alternative might have been? I was fascinated by his freedom of thought. He could question and talk about everything. Even subjects which were strictly taboo in my ‘King and Country’, working class upbringing. 

We went through the war together, mostly as P.O.W’s (There are references to him in my “P.O.W. Tales”) and afterwards we toured the south of England together, including Devonshire where Peter eventually chose to live with his family. He chose a career in academia and I became a civil servant. With the development of our careers and families, the distance between our places of living increased and, in 1964, I moved here to the USA. Nevertheless, we still took every opportunity we could to meet up and we had some very wonderful times in London, Staverton, Albufiera and the US over the years, sometimes with our families, sometimes, not. Our friendship was not the demonstrative sort, but rather the comfortable acceptance of each other’s make up– joys, regrets and all!

Jean, their sons Robbin and Mick and daughter Janet were all with him at the end. In this, his luck held out! I only wish I had been there too.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Ben,

    We are so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend. You have written a lovely tribute, allowing those of us who didn’t know Peter, a glimpse into this special man. Our condolences to you and his family.

    Love,
    Bonnie & Nancy

  2. Bonnie and Nancy. Thank you for your kind message. I am glad that I am able, grace the Internet, to share such thoughts with my friends. Strangely, Peter, himself, never saw my web pages–he never owned a computer. I tried earlier to get him interested and explained how much we ancients missed in the way of comunicating and exchange of ideas, but he said he found the machine too daunting and was content with the pace of his life in sleepy Devon. I am all for the hustle and bustle of a New York kind of city. Love, Ben.

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