With the weather bleak, stormy and struggling to climb above 10c, Anzac Day was appropriately somber and into remembrance at our Southern Highlands. The clouds overhead were racing towards a letting go of dread and relieving rain.
We had watched some TV and after the bugling stopped we felt a drink was not totally out of order. We can remember dread of war even better when surrounded by a roaring log fire and a lovely lunch at the local pub.
On days like that, my own memories go back to 1940 Rotterdam and my birth just after that city was bombed. Not that I can remember much of my birth! What I do remember were the dodgy German rockets the V1’s and V2’ being inaccurate, often coming down near us and well before their destination which was the UK, especially London. This was during the latter years of the war.
The more cheerful memories are of those Lancaster bombers dropping food over Rotterdam and I can still see my dad maniacally running towards those dropped bags of nutritious biscuits, risking getting killed by the dozens of overhead planes dropping the food without parachutes. Food was urgently needed and some thousands of people, mainly children had perished of hunger in that desolate city during that last dreadful winter. My birth city.
After arrival at the pub which was chockers with people, young and old, we had trouble finding a table but kept an eye on a couple that had obviously finished as she was wrapping her shawl around her elongated neck. She had a lovely Modigliani look about her. I was looking forward into taking her still warm seat.
We ordered a simple Angus Beef hamburger with chips and after paying were given one of those buzzing disks that go off buzzing and moving about the laminated table when the food has been cooked. It wasn’t long after when it moved about and vibrated wildly.
Since the war and child hunger, my intake of food has always been a bit over the top. My wife often tells me to be less enthusiastic with my utensils noisily clicking around the plate. “It will not run away, Gerard” she reminds me. Also, “can you look away from your plate, sometimes?”
This time I made an effort to take it easy and even time my speed on the hamburger to be slower than that of my wife. I succeeded. This was partly due to two couples that were also eating near us. One couple, the woman with a plate of something fried and somewhat grilled looking, perhaps a large quiche with salad and he, an enormous ‘Mauger from Burrawang’ supplied T-bone with chips. They were a couple keen on each other. She had her arm admiringly around his shoulder as he was carving his way around this his T-Bone. She took delight in his appetite and he was reciprocating with every now and then speaking to her and smiling. They were obviously in love. You can tell, can’t you? It’s the way people are radiating towards each other.
The other couple were just as nice looking but no keenness or love. He was enormous, a bit like a T-Bone as well, bull necked but fiddling with his mobile phone nonstop, interrupted only by sticking his fork into his food next to his phone. She was pretty and kept looking at him. She appeared sad. I think she knew the situation together was doomed. He had no interest in conversation and would just mumble something when she tried to engage. We felt like kicking him. You fool; don’t you notice her at all? What was the point of having lunch together?
As we, left the Courtyard had gotten very lively; Two-up and Two down in full swing.