Monday, 26 August 2013

Itchy feet

I have mentioned before that i suffer from this particular ailment.  Itchy feet, that is, not itchy fingers.  I have never in my life - well, not knowingly - removed from their keeping something belonging to others without their agreement.  So, itchy feet is what I have.  That does not mean that every time I hear music I feel an urge to get on my feet and start dancing.  Far from it.  Dancing has never been my particular forte.  When I was in the sixth form - at an all-boys school - dancing classes were arranged for us with the young ladies at the nearby all-girls school.  We, being pubescent gentlemen, were always expected to go to the girls' school for the lessons.  There followed sixth form dances to which students (although we were called pupils back in those days) all senior schools in the area were invited.  Students from most schools attended, including the girls from Roedean, the poshest girls' boarding school in the country if not the world.  At least at the dances we didn't have to wear school uniform, which was the case for the lessons.

As those lessons had not exactly done a lot for me, after I had left school my then girl friend, who had been a pupil at the one school in the area which refused to allow its girls to attend the sixth form dances, suggested we took lessons.  We enrolled at the Court School of Dancing where we learned the basics of ballroom dancing and became reasonably proficient in the waltz, the quickstep and the valeta.  We picked up the steps for the Gay Gordons at church socials, where the Virginia reel was also a hot favourite.

My itchy feet were urging me to travel, to see far-flung romantic places such as Scunthorpe.  (The name alone must make this the least attractive town in England.)  The answer would have been to go to sea, preferably with the Royal Navy following in the footsteps of my father and his father.  But that was not to be, so I settled down here in Sussex, working for a bank.  At least that meant that i got to move around the different branches, but that was still not enough to settle the urge to travel.

It so happened that the bank for which I worked had an overseas subsidiary with branches across Africa, from Egypt in the north, to South Africa at the bottom, from the Gold Coast in the west to Kenya in the east.  Here, perhaps, was the answer.  Now, it so happened that at that time I was dating (in those days we called it "going out with") an attractive young lady on whom I was especially keen.  I mentioned to her the idea that I should apply for a posting in Africa but she shuddered and said that was something she could never do.  "Well," said I, "in that case I shall just have to stay here and marry you."

So I did.

For a while, my itch lay dormant.  I did after all have other things on my mind.  But slowly, like the ambitious cornflake, it came to the surface again.  (Have I ever told you the story of the ambitious cornflake?  No?  Well, perhaps another day.)  I had joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, which got me away for two weeks' training each year, sometimes on a proper ship and sometimes actually going abroad.  I also got myself attached to a joint services unit which organised resistance to interrogation training for troops and aircrew.  Their exercises were held at various places around the country and provided a certain amount of travel for me.

As I got older, I could see retirement ahead of me like the light at the end of the tunnel.  Instead of my travel being restricted to weekends and holidays, I would have as much time as I wanted to see the world.  Time was one thing; money was another.  I corralled my dreams yet again and decided that maybe the answer would be a camper van.  I could use this as my mobile home and spend months touring Europe.  But somehow or other, things got in the way yet again.

I have been to most countries in western Europe: Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, plus Japan, Madeira, Malta, Canada and the USA.  But there are still so many places to see, roads to drive.

Oh well, it says in the Acts of the Apostles, "old men will have dreams".  I must take comfort from that.


I was staggered by the magnificence of Yosemite.


(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

" I was staggered by the magnificence of Yosemite."

Pictures just don't do it justice.
The Grand Canyon is much the same.

Buck said...

But there are still so many places to see, roads to drive.

I feel exactly the same, and time grows short. That said, you're very well traveled, Brian.

And what Skip said.

Brighton Pensioner said...

The Grand Canyon is but one of the hundreds of places on my bucket list. Yes, Buck, I've seen quite a bit of Europe, but there's still a lot more.