Firstly, as I’m sure I mention every year, Elvis died this day in 1977, aged 42. Help! Not only does it feel as though he gets younger every year – 42! – but I cannot reconcile that it is 44 years ago. I was all of sixteen and I remember we had driven down to Elie for a drink – well, I hadn’t but my friend, Mark, was driving his Mum’s white Datsun (can picture it clear as day) and we were listening to Radio Luxembourg; Tony Prince, I think. Suddenly, he cut into the record with the urgent announcement that the King was dead! That was it. The King. Thankfully, we didn’t have a king on the throne so our little brains were able to work it out. Elvis! That was a big thing, way back then. Yes, we all knew he was the size of a house – as were his trademark white jumpsuits – he had a penchant for hamburgers, he ‘partied’ all night and slept all day, and he was known to buy his friends cars for Christmas but he was still Elvis; he of that inimitable voice … I don’t think we were told, at that point, the details of his death on the loo but the news was shocking enough to ensure that I have never forgotten that moment; where I was, who I was with and how we heard. Memory. There is no greater faculty. As for time, it waits for no man and 44 years is a heck of a long time to fly by in an instant. How insignificant we all are, in the great scheme of things but, then, Elvis lives on thanks to that voice and his unforgettable songs. The rest of us? Mere footprints in the sand. Who will remember Trish-Trash? Don’t answer that!
Sadly, I am not in my pavement café in Rome, large glass of Cervaro to hand. I continue to dream – and I’m thankful for the memories which fuel my imagination – but, in reality, I have just come back from sitting in my car with the engine on! No, windows wide open, but I am still awaiting delivery of the power steering part and I don’t want the battery to die. Apparently, it should appear this week and I am dying to see the size of this thing which has rendered my beloved car useless for the last two months. I suppose it can’t be that small or that would just be silly considering the size of the car. To be continued. On the edge of your seat, meantime!
I have got into the terrible habit of checking Instagram every morning, mainly to see what my friend, Bev, has posted. However, I am finding it increasingly sickening. Now, I like Ben Fogle – although, don’t ever get excited about meeting him – but he and his wife, Marina, have spent the summer posting photos of the family in the most idyllic settings of which most of us can only dream. Admittedly, they went from their sprawling, to-die-for garden to the wilds of Scotland but they were definitely not just anywhere. It was stunning, swimming in the sea, in fresh water pools, the sunsets … not another staycationer in sight! Where the hell were they?! Jealous in the extreme. It gets worse, however. Now they are staying with Heidi! Well, not exactly, but they are high in the mountains of Austria in a beautiful, sprawling wooden chalet complete with swimming pool, sun loungers with the best view in the world and cows with bells round their necks. They probably milk them before breakfast! Ben seems to post photos of Marina, daily, looking stunning in a variety of outfits with the glorious mountains behind and then Marina posts photographs of the children living the dream. Is it just me? Do we really want to see them? Does it make us feel any happier?! Yes, Marina is part Austrian, grew up there, and her family obviously have a home there but … particularly, for those of us who would give their eye teeth (courtesy of my mother) to be back in the mountains of Austria, please can the Von Fogles refrain from torturing us?!
Actually, why target Ben when Jack Savoretti seems to be permanently in Portofino and Tom Odell is just hopping about everywhere: Paris, South of France, Mallorca. Wonder how they travel? Private jet? Not the Von Fogles, I am sure, but I know Jack has been sampling the taste of the high life of late. What? Would I do the same, if I could? I have no doubt. Not the private jet, much as I would like – one step too far in this climate, methinks, and it would curb my ability to preach unless I change my name to Sussex or Clooney – but I would loooove to escape to Italy or the mountains of Austria, far from the madding crowd. Saint-Paul-de-Vence? I will always remember the day we spent there in 1988 with its cobbled, winding streets and the beautiful little shops. It was quiet, then; no longer, I am sure. We had a drink in La Colombe d’Or, I recall, or, perhaps, we just popped in to peruse for the future. Just grateful my mother didn’t order four Campari & Sodas – for £25 each – as she did in the Hotel de Paris in Monaco! Cough medicine was my verdict while Pop marched us out of there, quick smart, before she had us booked for a table for lunch. Memories stored. I bought a beautiful quilted bag, that evening, in one of the many quaint little shops in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and a lovely poster advertising the Atelier Michel Boulet which I had framed on my return. The colours are a little faded now but I treasure it and have taken it everywhere over the years. A taste of home, it is hanging in the hallway of this rented cottage …
Wow! I haven’t even mentioned Jake Davison, the 22-year-old licenced gun holder who killed five people on a shooting spree – including a 3-year-old girl and his own mother – last Thursday evening in Plymouth. Clearly, mentally disturbed, the guy had been ubiquitous on social media, posting misogynistic comments and had his gun licence revoked in December 2020 following an allegation of assault. It was returned, only last month, when he had completed an anger management course. Read these words again. The guy who had to attend an anger management course following an allegation of assault was deemed, by the police, fit to hold a licence for a three-shot shotgun. Nobody is safe! Incredibly, also – despite the fact that his vile posts and videos were all over social media and, therefore, in the public domain – the police believe it would have been ‘an invasion of privacy’ to trawl through the internet checking his history before handing him back his gun. An invasion of privacy? At least, the constabulary of Dunblane could never be accused of such a grave error in 1996 …
Nor have I mentioned the situation in Afghanistan. The words wasted time come to mind. What was it all for? Twenty years erased, just like that. Tens of thousands dead – military and civilian – thousands more injured and millions displaced. For what? The Taliban have claimed Kabul, once more; the president, Ashraf Ghani, abandoned his country yesterday – allegedly, with cars and a helicopter full of cash – while thousands of Afghanis, desperate to escape the predicted regime of the Taliban – descended on the airport. So desperate are they that scores were seen running alongside a US military plane as it prepared for take-off, some clinging to the jet. Seven were killed.
After twenty years of war, sparked by 9/11, the terrorist attack on New York and Washington which killed nearly 3,000 people and which is etched on our memories, foreign forces began withdrawing following an agreement forged, in February 2020, between President Trump and the Taliban. The US agreed to withdraw all forces from the country in exchange for the Taliban severing all ties with al-Qaeda – the Islamist militant group led by Osama Bin Laden, and responsible for 9/11, the protection of whom incited the war – and ending attacks on American forces. While American soldiers may have ceased to be targets, however, the Taliban escalated attacks on the Afghan government’s security forces and civilian casualties continued. Still the drawdown of troops went ahead. Trump cited May 1st as the end date but Biden has extended that in favour of the more symbolic, 11 September, 2021 for the full withdrawal. America’s longest-ever war, it has cost billions of dollars. Is that the real reason they have conceded? After twenty years, is that really why they have thrown the country and its innocent citizens to the wolves? Let’s face it, everything else in this cess-pit of a world seems to come down to money; why should this be any different?
Wasted Time. One of the most poignant songs of the Eagles and one of my favourite:
‘And maybe someday we will find
That it wasn’t really wasted time.’
There has to be a reason for sacrifice otherwise it was in vain and the loss unbearable. I can only imagine, today, how the families of all those who gave their lives – military and civilian – in a conflict which has lasted twenty years, must be feeling. Lest we forget …
‘Neither can the wave that has passed by be recalled, nor the hour which has passed return again.’
This is Trish, signing off.