Hesitantly, the second choice. Second in these blog entries, but not necessarily second in importance to me.
I’m finding this little challenge quite difficult and at the same time very enjoyable. Just where, when and why did a particular piece of music mean a lot? Casting the mind back to various periods in DP’s 72 years seems to be quite easy. But then to link any one time or event with something musical and especially memorable hasn’t been easy so far. This one is pretty clear though.
Picture this: it’s Saudi Arabia again. I was there from 1976 to 1987 and in the first two or three years, before moving to a company compound, I lived in barracks on the Saudi Air Force base near Dhahran in the Eastern Province. The buildings were plain, stark, with basic furniture. Most men had one room, and they shared bathrooms at the end of the corridors. I did too until I was promoted, after which I had two rooms – a living room and a bedroom with my own bathroom in between. One of the abiding memories was that the walls in the rooms and the corridors were painted green. I think that’s right but if anyone’s reading this who was there also, do correct me. Anyway, it was gloomy.
Two things made life more cheerful. First, with the extra space I brewed beer, which was totally illegal as everyone knows. Others did the same. We generally got alerted to checks and raids by the Saudi military. It was probably a case of them knowing what was going on and turning a blind eye unless they’d heard that anyone was selling to Saudis, or unless they were ordered to check on us by new officers. In both situations I reckon they didn’t want to find anything and so we were given a bit of unofficial notice so that we could clear it all away.
The second happy diversion was Neil Diamond.
Until then I’d not been very interested in ‘popular music’, preferring a small number of classical items already known. But Sweet Caroline knocked me out. That cassette tape must have been played at least 50 times ….. while I was mixing malt, sugar, yeast and water in dustbins, and on the few occasions when one or two others would join me for evening chats and very careful, not too noisy, liquid refreshments. For those invitations it was the first time I used the phrase “Peace Soir”. If you know some French, think about it.
Sweet Caroline brings back instant memories of life in the Saudi barracks over 40 years ago. Such happy music, and giving such a feeling of easy-going Western freedoms, the freedoms that we were forbidden. That music, for this guy, can’t be forgotten.
Most of you will know it, but here it is anyway:
This afternoon, off to UCLH for Operation Third Time Lucky. Should be back in my NHNN bed between 5 and 6pm. Will let you know probably tomorrow. I’m so grateful for all your good wishes here in the blog, and by email, by phone and by text. Thank you.