Hope And Glory On An Almost Perfect SundaySunday, March 22, 2009
While watching, with my granddaughter Rebecca, John Boorman’s 1987 film Hope and Glory, Sarah Miles as Grace, and her three sisters Faith, Hope and Charity play a string quartet some thoughts on my early life in Buenos Aires came to mind. They entertain themselves and their family during the waning days of the London Blitz on a house on the Thames. Rebecca said to me, “They had to entertain themselves because they had no TV.”
As a little boy my parents used to take me to visit relatives. I remember one visit in particular because of the smells. We went to visit my father’s older brother Harry and his wife Winnie at their home in Acassuso in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Uncle Harry drank a lot and he always smelled of whisky and tobacco. It was the Hayward smell. From my vantage point by the kitchen table (I remember really looking up so I must have been 8) I watched Uncle Harry prepare some Colman mustard from scratch. I remember my surprise at watching him put a spoonful of sugar into his mixture. “How odd," I thought. After dinner Auntie Winnie served us tea in beautiful bone china and I noticed her twisted arthritic hands.
These visits were not as frequent as those where my relatives came to our house. This was so because we had a garden. Uncle Tony, his son Wenci and my Tía Sarita would come on Saturdays and Uncle Tony would bring his U-control airplanes that he would fly in the nearby GE Field. One weekend it might be a beautiful Curtiss P-40 with the shark face on the engine cowling, and a beautiful sky blue under body paint with the standard camouflage on the top. On another week it was Focke-Wulf FW 190 but my favourite was a big, black, Stuka Ju87. Uncle Tony once built it with an authentic bent wing instead of the usual U-control straight wing. The Stuka was so un-maneuverable that it soon crashed. Uncle Tony poured the engine fuel over the wreckage and ritually burn it. We would go home for lunch and he would tell us, with a smile on his face, that he would build and even more beautiful Stuka. Uncle Tony also had the habit of dumping his pets (he lived in an apartment) on us. That is how we inherited over the years a Collie, a giant brown poodle, many turtles and assorted cats.
I remember those days fondly as I was growing up. Uncle Tony had taught me that things were things and no matter how valuable they could always be replaced if lost. Somehow Uncle Harry had challenged my idea that salty was salty and sweet was sweet and they could never convivir.
Today was such a day. It was sunny and I was able to garden. In spite of so many dead roses and shrubs I shrugged it off as my Uncle Tony would have. Rebecca arrived for her piano lesson at noon and Lauren accompanied me in the garden as I sprinkled alfalfa meal and Epsom salts on my roses. When Lauren asked me why I told her, “Plants eat just like we do and the Epsom salts will help them eat better. The alfalfa will (and we don’t know exactly why) induce the roses, even the dead ones, perhaps, to send up new growth.”
For lunch we had angel hair pasta the way Rebecca likes it. I chop up half an onion, a put in a cup of frozen peas over the angel hair. Lauren helps to grate the Parmesan. This time we pleased Lauren and instead of having a fresh fruit shake we had ginger ale with grenadine.
After lunch I went to Videomatica to choose a film for the afternoon. I go straight to the British movie section. It is here where I always find something good. I find something that will entertain the children without boring us. I find something with special effects, violence and destruction. Of the latter today’s film had lots of it as it was John Boorman’s Hope and Glory. This is an autobiographical film he wrote, produced and directed. It is a perfect Sunday afternoon movie to watch with one’s grandchildren. We all laughed when the little boy’s father teaches the boy to bowl a googly (In cricket a googly, is a type of delivery bowled by a right-arm leg spin bowler.)
We had not finished the film when Rebecca and Lauren’s parents arrived. I had prepared a pork loin on the barbecue, saffron rice and Rosemary had taken care of the mixed salad. We drank a blender mix of papaya, mango and orange and for dessert we had cherry Jell-O with canned peaches (Lauren’s favourite and Island Farms Chocolate Mint Burst ice-cream (my favourite).
The only thing that marred the perfect day was that I forgot to spoon some sugar into my Colman’s mustard. It was odd to see myself in the moody grandfather of the film played by Ian Bannen and my visiting relatives as the ones in whom my plans for the day will become someday their fond (I hope) memories.