I had an interesting little email yesterday from someone I haven\’t seen or heard of since I was 10, he\’d stumbled across the blog.. How\’s that for technology beating the anomie of modern life, the way in which we no longer commune?
71-73 we lived just north of Naples (father, RN, was posted to the AFSouth base there) and one of the families in the same road was a US military family, the son of which was one Dean Ottoman. Two memories stand out from that time, the way we (like so many young boys did) put playing cards on the shafts of our bicycles (those old American ones, one gear, you braked by pedalling backwards) so that they rubbed against the spokes and made a really "cool" noise as you rode along.
The other was one afternoon when a very flea ridden and shaggy stray dog turned up (some indeterminate mix of collie, lurcher, whatever). He managed to catch all of us by the way he would offer his paw to be put into your hand (obviously, he had been "set free" from somewhere). It was Dean who persuaded his parents that "Ralph" should be taken in and cared for. He became part of the gang, of course.
They do have winters in Italy and given that at that time no one had heating, they could be pretty miserable. There were also such annoyances as school and so on (run by the RAF if memory serves) but the over-riding theme of my memories of that time is of blissful summer afternoons spent roaming the area, climbing the volcano (yes, it started at the bottom of the garden, or perhaps the top is better) variously with Adam, Dean, Stacey, my brother Peter, the gang. Dean remembers better the carolling we did at Christmas, he had my cricket bat for many years after we all left. In memory at least, some combination of the Famous Five and Swallows and Amazons.
One other memory from then, we often used to go to Cumae for picnics. The area is awash with Greek and Roman ruins and Cumae is a concentration of temples and the like. One of the childhood photos on my parents\’ mantelpiece is of two headless statues, circa 100 AD or so, with my brother and I popping up behind to provide the faces, in the style of those seaside amusements.
So that\’s what the internet is really for, to allow me to wallow in the memories of a golden childhood, long ago.
Dean\’s in Seattle Washington now and has a band. Have a listen here. If you happen to run a bar or gin joint in that area then you should hire them. Both the internet and the power of the blog demand it. They do a pretty good blues chug with "Mojo" (a reworking of perhaps the Muddy Waters and JJ Cale songs of similar names).