“My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are a part of my life – for we possess nothing certainly except the past–were always with me.” Captain Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.
Nostalgics yearn for a lost home. A home hiding in the distant past. Sick with longing, I search for Arcadia in damp limestone churches and hat pin packets.
Too slippery, the sound of it is in the tinkle of bone china and a glimpse of it is in Julia’s Flapper bob waving in the evening wind. You can spy it through opera glass lenses; smell it in soft face powder and feel it in Chanel bouclé tweed. I know not if it is the Betty Draper waist atop a voluminous New Look skirt or the drapery flagging in a wicker chair under the long heat of an Edwardian summer.
Do I find it in Victory rolls or beehives? I know it certainly happened long before the dirty 1980s. The cocaine of the ‘20s is defiantly purer, whiter, edged with lace and Vile Bodies humour. It probably came in a delightful little tin with writing in a treacle jar font on it.
We revel in the advances and freedoms of an age without whale bone, but fall into a sigh trying to count the hooks on Dita’s corset.
I heard him say to me “You were meant to be born into another age, weren’t you?” as I swooned over seamed stockings and cuddled down into a warm cocoon of veiled hats. Through polka dot netting it is harder to see what Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy really look like. I will wrap my ears in a fur stole and not hear ‘Greece’ and not hear the raindrops and the wailing wind crying at me.
“This is all too much!” I say, followed quickly by “I must take tea and cake with haste!”
It wasn’t cold in the Past and if it was there were scones and Darjeeling and a delightful suitor’s knee to perch on. Gin in tea cups or Absinthe with Degas, I wouldn’t have felt the cold between my patent T-bar toes.
Is London right? Is Exmoor right? No, nowhere is right, but somewhere far behind us. Bicycles, baskets, parasols and pin-ups. With champagne for breakfast whilst Sebastian dresses Aloysius.
For one moment, I saw it in you in the silly tweed jacket and that great big forehead. What is lost from the present is found in the shape of your GI neck and the platform kisses. No steam train smoke, but there is a touch of lost Homeland teacakes about the place and the clock quietly strikes midnight in Paris.