Saturday, January 06, 2007


A couple came to see me today. They are well into their 80s and want to spend their last few years enjoying themselves, seeing their family right and not having to worry about mounting expenses and the cost of living.

I normally counsel against such instant cures as Equity Release and weight my advice with words of compound interest doom, urging them to seek other sources of relief which give slightly reduced instant benefits but infinitely better interest rates. Today I didn't.

I'd spoken to the chap on the phone( including all such serious concerns). He had everything about him, which had probably induced terse, borderline-haughty responses from me when he'd caught me mid-way through the ever-urgent property business that consumes my day. He'd been quite persistent, phoning almost every other day since he'd decided upon this course. I'd built up a picture of an awkward bloody-minded old sod who wouldn't listen to reason even when confronted with hard figures.

I met, instead, a diminutive, smart moustachioued dashing gent with a blushing, albeit 80-odd year old bride on his arm. He'd been worried about her ability to get into the office because of her heart condition. I'd explained that I could make a home visit but it would cost them extra so had instead agreed to be available at short notice should his wife feel fit enough to take a taxi for an office appointment. We met less than 12 hours after I received their papers.

I detected an accent from her immediately and was itching to look at her Passport to place it. We went throught the rudiments and my already softened persona breathed softly and gently as he took an age to give me the two envelopes containing their ID, willing him not to have to read through every single word on each document when I could already see it was exactly what I required.

I was expecting Germany or some other Eastern European outpost. Not India. I mentioned this as I arrived back from having copied their ID, necessary to ensure they'd be banged to rights should they be hardened money launderists.

The lady foiled me by taking out a small, crumpled envelope from her handbag. She passed me the contents. It was a small black and white photograph of a beautiful brunette on her Wedding Day to a dashing wavy-haired RAF Officer 60 years ago in Lucknow, India. She told me all about how they had met in the Himalayas when they were both on R&R during the Second World War. He interjected how the hairs on the back of his neck had bristled as this beautiful erect woman had entered the Mess and stolen all thoughts from him other than to dance with her and make her his bride before the night was over. The rest was history but that same passionate love filled the little interview room that I had booked to save them walking up the stairs to my office.

My usual professional cool completely eluded me. I cried. Embarrassed, I mumbled an excuse about being in the middle of reading a book about Monte Cassino and recently having lost a grandfather. He actually died almost 10 years ago but the Cassino bit was true. I think I got away with it, recovering myself almost instantly and chatting for a further 5 minutes before showing them to the Reception to await a taxi.

I'm not sure if I was crying at the beauty of their story, magnified by their still apparent love for one another so many years hence, the positive result from such a terrible war which saw countless futile losses, or the dawning realisation that I'll never have such tales to tell to my grandchildren or even eager-listening office clerks that many years from now.

They were warm tears. I'm glad I shed them.


Blogger Within Without said...

What a wonderfully penned story, CP. And a touching tale about you as much as it is about them.

Maybe you cried for all three of those reasons (nice recovery, btw)...each worth the tears by the sounds of it.

And that you're glad you shed them is a good thing.

What do I know...but you're just 35, you're vibrant, you're all kinds of things.

And...(covers vulnerable areas, hoping not to offend)...

Maybe it's too soon to be talking about what you will or won't be telling your grandkids?

This was a late-night thing of beauty to read. I'm glad I read it.

6:16 am  
Blogger Dave said...

What WW said.

With yesterday's poignant tale, and now this, you're really wrenching our heart-strings, aren't you?


8:27 am  
Blogger Stegbeetle said...

'Tis indeed a lovely story. I hope they have many more years together.

And as to your "realisation that I'll never have such tales to tell to my grandchildren" - don't give up on love, CP. It finds us in the most unexpected places and situations. This from an old cynic like me!

I'm touched by both their story and your telling of it. "Warm tears" from a warm heart.

8:40 am  
Blogger Kate said...

Aaw, that is lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

And don't give up, you will find someone, probably when you least expect to. Looking into my crystal ball I see a tall, dark handsome chap with a passion for red haired bird watchers waiting just around the corner . . .

11:35 am  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

I don't know what to say to this

11:57 am  
Blogger andrea said...

Words fail me.

10:20 pm  
Blogger Ces said...


11:03 pm  
Blogger Joyce said...

difficult to fathom,and so redemptive- such an instant and enduring love.
thanks for sharing that.

2:12 am  
Blogger tom909 said...

When I met my mrs the hairs on my neck didn't move a millimetre. Should I have taken this as a sign - nobody told me. I'm paying the price now, that's for sure.
Only Joking - not about the hairs though - it's only women with french accents that that happens with.

11:22 am  
Blogger Cherry Rolfe said...

Thank you Cherry - that was lovely.
And if you don't have tales to tell the children of tomorrow who does!

1:19 pm  
Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

OOOH I loved the imagery..the Indian scene was all shot in sepia of course..and your narrative was exquisite.

Now as to why you were overcome I think that I would have done the same...not many of us will ever experience such dramatic events as meeting during a horrible war in a foreign land while Benny Goodman plays in the background ...
and then sustain a viable rewarding relationship for over half of a century.

Those days may have been 'different' times but it is still heart warming to hear about a love story like that..firsthand.

5:05 pm  

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