Sunday 11 December 2016

Day 11: My Heaven by Edward Breen

The crackle and hop of the needle finding the lead-in groove brings to mind the fire that kept the cold away in the lodge that night. As Satchmo’s trumpet plays the intro like liquid gold, it brings me back to the thick, sweet cocoa we were sipping.

We had been skiing all day, the best thing to do in the Alps in the middle of winter. The cold got into your bones up there, it wasn’t like the cold in England. It was colder, even when it wasn’t. But we didn’t mind. It gave us an excuse to cuddle up close in front of the fire, sipping our cocoa. We had only been married a week, so it was all wonderfully new. It felt like she had been designed to fit into the crease of my arm.
There was something about that holiday that would and could never be repeated. Perhaps it was that before then we hadn’t ever slept in the same house, much less the same room, never mind the same bed. Or maybe it was that we were no longer separate people, but part of a larger while. It could even have been that it was particularly fine in the Alps that year with the powderiest snow, the blackest nights and the bluest days. Whatever it was, we both agreed that we never had another like it.

As the intro ends and the low rasp of Mr Armstrong begins telling me how he got an invitation and that it’s formal. It draws a picture from my memory of the dinners we attended every night before going back to the lodge: not quite as formal as top hat, white tie and tails but it was a nice place. I would wear a dickey. She loved me in a dickey. I loved her in anything. One night, I remember, she wore a violet dress I had bought for her especially. It had cost me a month’s wages, but it was worth it. I always fancied she had a tinge of violet in her eyes, and the dress brought it out perfectly. She just said I was silly. But she smiled that delicious smile all the same.

The food was food like we had never eaten. Lobster in butter, fillet mignon with garlic and potatoes as only the French can do them. She always had her steak rare. I had mine well-done. She called me a coward and told me how it was a shame to ruin such a fine piece of meat. We washed it down with wine that made our toes curl. She could never eat a whole dessert, or said she couldn’t. So I always agreed to share one. One night we shared a crème brûlée, only it was so small I had to order another. Her laugh was like crystals as the waiter shot me a look.

My tea is ready to drink by the time Louis is complaining about it raining all the time. Those two days when the storm hit were my favourite of the whole holiday. We had plenty of food in the lodge. Somehow we had managed to find tea the day before, I remember as I sip mine.


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