I am writing this blog with the panoramic view of the Thames and Richmond bridge before me. The sun is shining and the view extends from the main old Richmond bridge as far the Railway bridge. You may envy me this view. Don’t! It is actually a twenty feet long photograph in a waiting area in Kingston NHS Hospital. I have spent many hours here this week. I am not wearing a scarf in hospital....too hot with a mask, but I have decided to choose one in my head, hop on the magic carpet and take off. SCARFAID blogs have helped me and others during lockdown so now I am using it to praise the NHS and cope personally with a long wait. Let me say all Covid tests are negative and I have had a mystery infection.
The past weekend should have been exciting with an article being written about my scarf blogs in the New York Times. Had to cancel their photographer and postpone publication due to feeling poorly. Alas, I had no choice but also cancel a real trip to Devon on Monday. I will go there anyway on the carpet so which scarf to choose for the journey?Something which reminds me of the sea, a game of golf on a cliff top, a strawberry jam and clotted cream tea or fish and chips? I am writing this on Battle of Britain Day so I must watch out for a Spitfire or Hurricane.....don’t know how visible is my flying carpet. Having written that, I will find my late husband’s very old RAF scarf and before I set off, have a cuppa in the RAF mug. The scarf is rayon and the hems are not hand sewn, certainly not a designer job! I think we will land on Devon’s Slapton Sands, a place of secrets.
I certainly knew nothing of its importance in WW2, nor did the entire population of around three thousand folks from the beach’s surrounding villages when they were evacuated from their homes. The entire area was to be used as a top secret training ground for the American military in preparation for the DDay landings some three years after the Battle of Britain. Slapton Beach is similar to Utah in Normandy. Disaster! Severe loss of life was suffered during the training exercise TIGER prior to the Utah landing when American ships were sunk by the enemy and further losses endured through friendly fire. Blunders were evidently made. These facts were never disclosed during the war, lest morale was lowered. Would we describe withheld information as Fake News today? One wonders.
My memory of my first and only visit to Slapton just a few years ago is remarkable, knowing nothing of the above. I was spending a few days with friends in Devon and we decided to have a treat of fish and chips at a shack restaurant opposite the beach. We parked in the official carpark and were surprised to find people dressed in Forties clothes, hair turbans, unusual hairstyles with upswept side coils, old Services uniforms and an elderly man in a wheelchair. We had stumbled accidentally on a memorial service for the disaster around the recovered Sherman tank which had slumbered under the waves for decades and only in recent years been made into a memorial in the carpark. It was a small gathering. What an honour to unexpectedly join in. The old guy in the wheelchair, a survivor, had flown in from USA to honour his lost comrades.
So today, I remember our brave pilots in the Battle of Britain, the hundreds of American serviceman who died at Slapton and to bring us up to date, give thanks to our NHS for a thorough MOT of your Scarfaid blogger.
Now to get down to that very fresh fish and chips, a wander along the beach to collect a souvenir pebble. It will not be as large as the one resembling a sheep’s face which I collected on my last visit. A final icecream, lots of deep breaths of fresh sea air and back on the carpet home.
There! Writing this has made a hospital visit more pleasant and there is always another time for the real visit.
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!
Series 2, Blog 11.