A walk down Memory Lanes

Recently we stayed in York with Hazel, sister of my late wife, and her husband Digger. It is only eight years since, after an absence of some 50 years, I was able to return with my second wife Delia to the city I knew so well in the days of my R.A.F. National Service - 1952/55 would you believe. We were made more eight years ago. I am happy to say we still are.

Most people know that York is a most beautiful city, crowned by its amazing Minster and absolutely crammed full of the most dramatic of English history. Fortunately my  brother-in-law is a positive fountain of information and so we are always able to come away from our visits steeped in awe, in beauty, in thoughts of the past.

It is the past of which I am writing today. Not the ancient past but the past of 1953 and 1954. Hazel and Digger took us around the narrow streets of the city centre following a recent - and interesting - innovation: the Cat Walk. You follow directions on a leaflet to find various model cats crawling up walls, sitting in unlikely corners, on the odd rooftop, etc.

In our perambulations so we passed, then went into York's imposing Assembly Rooms - in my day a dance dance for boy meet girl but now a most elegant tea-room complete with well remembered marble pillars etc etc. We then moved on to find the old De Grey Rooms - another of the city's five dance halls, natural desinations for all kinds of British and American servicemen stationed around what was, in those days, very much a garrison town. Although now privately owned and operated as some kind of a conference centre a kind lady at the door, after I told he this was where I met my late wife, Hazel's sister, was happy to show us around. This was for me an eerie experience. Nothing, but nothing seemed to have changed. Same band area, same beautifully sprung maple floor, same gallery. I could almost hear the swing music and the Strauss waltzes, see the well-suited young men and the well-frocked young ladies, mostly each side of the floor by gender, mostly puffing away on Craven A's or Balkan Sobranie's (those ladies wanting to appear sophisticated, the latter!).

That evening the four of us repaired to Peter's and Doris' house for a splendid Chinese meal. Peter is one of my brothers-in-law. Carol came too. Her late, badly missed husband Michael was another of my brothers-in-Law. Great evening of wine and chat and laughs and talk of things past and a little customary shaking of heads re some things present.

Although of course Dee had not been party to those old times good and bad, she fitted into this scene as a hand into a glove. That is one of the reasons why she and I are together and will always be - at least until the end of always.


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