I feel like Captain Oates, ‘I may be some time’, as the blizzard of snow swirls outside and darkness falls in freezing temperatures.  However, I am going nowhere!  I am not sporting my night attire and have moved from my bed to the couch – my version of Couch to 5K.  Job done!  Now, with my laptop on my knee, I am referring to my notes and, last night, it seems I penned, ‘Can one use a hoover in a yurt?!’  Actually, that is misleading.  I remember writing those exact words as we discussed vacuum cleaners before retiring.  Seriously.  Won’t have anyone say we’re not fun in this house!  So, the use of a hoover in a yurt?  Valid question …

My fellow Austrians, I shall not be seeing you again, perhaps for a very long time.  I would like to sing for you now … a love song.  I know you share this love.  I pray that you will never let it die.’

‘Captain Von Trapp’, The Sound of Music (1965)

I won’t!  I may not be Austrian but Austria is very definitely in my heart and that song …  Christopher Plummer is gone but, ironically, he will live on, forever – generation after generation – as the character from whom he so desperately tried to distance himself, in vain.  A tribute to his interpretation, the world loved the grouchy naval captain who, grieving, hid behind a cold, stern facade, to no avail.  For eyes are the windows to the soul and his warmth, his humour, his twinkle, there was no hiding.  Methinks, he played himself …  Despite the years of protestations to the contrary, he softened towards the end, conceding that he was proud to be a part of the well-loved film; one which needed neither sex, violence nor special effects to secure its longevity, only breath-taking scenery, wonderful music, good old-fashioned family, romance and … a true story!  Gets me every time.

It is well documented how much The Sound of Music means to me.  The reason we, ever, visited St Wolfgang which, an hour from Salzburg, epitomises the glorious scenery in the film.  It was my parents who, first, stayed at The White Horse Inn in the picturesque village on the lake, nestled below the majestic mountains of the Salzkammergut, and my father who told me I must go there.  I listened and I did, many years later, and, in the summer of 2001, we took my parents back with us, too.  We hired a car and visited the many locations of the film, Pop particularly enjoying Werfen and the hairpin bends, necessary to negotiate, en route to what felt like the clouds!  Unknowingly, on private land, we were subjected to the wrath of irate Austrians as we strove to determine the exact location of the meadow, high in the mountains, where Maria and the children sang Do Re Mi.  Out we, all, clambered and posed for photos with a backdrop to end all backdrops but, was it the meadow?  No, I don’t think it was.  However, the adventure afforded Pop one of his favourite quotes; one on which he dined out many times … 

‘Thank God her favourite film wasn’t ‘Scott of the Antarctic’!’ 

Of course, my memories of the film are all linked to Pop.  I shall never forget the box we sat in when, aged 5, we drove to the ABC in Edinburgh to see it for the first time; nor the delicious knickerbocker glories we enjoyed during the Intermission!  ‘Box’, ‘Intermission’, all but lost in translation, now …  How I cried when we went back a second time and the queues were such that we didn’t get in.  Pop loved to describe my face tripping me as, inconsolable, I held his hand, sporting my ruler-straight fringe and bunches.  Only ‘Gretel’, herself, could have ‘out-cuted’ my cuteness!

We, then, went to see it, once more, in St Andrews and, just as the overture gathered pace and the wonderful opening vista appeared, an old lady fell down the stairs and Pop, in his medical cap, had to leave!

I was desperate for the soundtrack, the long-playing record of 33rpms but, at 5, my earning capacity precluded such a purchase.  Thankfully, Pop took pity on me and, as a huge surprise, he came home one day and, unannounced, put it on our old record player in the Morning Room.  From upstairs, I heard the birds and the magical opening bars, recognising it immediately, as I thundered downstairs in my excitement – perhaps that’s why our record always jumped in ‘Maria’ as the nuns sang of ‘a flibbertijibbit’ and ‘a clown’ but no ‘will-o’-the-wisp’ in our house!  Wish I had that precious old LP, now, truly labelled with love.

So, Geoffrey Palmer, Captain Tom and, now, Christopher Plummer.  More flowers on the sand.  Thanks for the memories …

Cheery stuff!  Why don’t I end with Millionaire and the possibility of my participation?  May I never be accused of being boring!  Deluded, maybe – even quite funny, at times – but never boring.  Watching the aforementioned programme, last night, I was convinced of the reliability of my gut instinct – when called upon in the absence of knowledge – and, thus, pondered the sanity of applying.  Nothing to lose, really, and I’m sure Jeremy and I would get on like a house on fire.  Tick.  Not the best at the Fastest Finger First and I couldn’t/wouldn’t wave, inanely, as I was introduced but …  Then, there’s the dilemma of what to wear and the camera adding 10 lbs?!  Major diet beforehand.  Tick.  Finally, the problem of who to choose for my two Phone a Friends?  That’s it, then, not a chance!  Just kidding, sort of.  Who would I choose?  Who would you choose?  I think … I’ll give it some thought.  You see, in hindsight, I have learned that one should choose one’s friends wisely with the inclusion of a vet, a doctor, a divorce lawyer, a financial adviser (trusted!), a guy with a tool belt (genuinely!), an IT expert, at least one with a home abroad – Italy, Austria, South of France? – and, now, a genius!  With wisdom comes age …  Tick!

If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.’ 

Tom Stoppard


This is Trish, signing off.