I lay awake in that dark hour and was reflecting on my life
From all the travelling I had done to the breakup with my wife
I was an architectural painter and was very successful too
And after leaving Oxford University that's what I'd wanted to do.
But winds of war were blowing and we were at war with Germany
And I, Charles Ryder had enlisted, as an officer in the army
It took me a while to accept the harsh regime of the military
Because I'd been a free spirit and answered to no one but me.
I learnt that soon we would be moving to a secret location
To prepare for our deployment to a middle eastern nation
The camp was a hive of activity as we were preparing to go
Where we were going was a mystery, nobody seemed to know.
We marched to the railway station it was a cold and dark night
The train with its blacked out windows looked a forboding sight
We all boarded the train and then settled down for the journey
To that place unknown, that had been shrouded in secrecy.
After a couple of hours the train stopped at an unknown railway station
We all disembarked and lined up and marched to our secret destination
After a couple of hours we'd set up camp and settled down for the night
Then everything became quite peaceful, that is until morning light.
The sounds of vehicles and men , woke me up from my slumber
And where this transit camp was, I couldn't help but wonder
I got dressed and headed for the mess tent for some morning tea
And as I gazed up at the grey sky line, it stood majestically before me.
It was if someone had shone a bright light into my distant past
Old memories resurfaced and I just stood there totally aghast
Brideshead Castle looked magnificent in the grey morning light
And I remembered being invited there by Lord Sebastian Flyte.
It had been well over twenty years since I had first been here
After befriending Lord Sebastian at Oxford in my first year
He'd invited me to stay over to meet, his aristocratic family
I'll never forget their kindness and how they'd all welcomed me.
My thoughts were shattered by Hooper, my lieutenant driving a jeep
Who said "I've just been in the big grand old house for a peep
There's statues of men with trumpets, paintings and all kinds of bling
Outside in the gardens, giant fountains, you never saw such a thing"
I answered "yes I did Hooper, I have been here many times before"
He said "then you know all about it and it's magnificent splendour"
I told him" better go and get the platoon ready" he said" righty oh "
And I was again left alone in my deep thoughts of a time long ago.
I had breakfast and then walked up to the house, it's layout was vast
And I wondered if my visit would encounter any ghosts from the past
I saw the families Nanny Hawkins and she immediately recognised me
She made some fresh tea and brought me up to date about the family.
It had brought me some kind of closure as I'd left under a cloud
And looking back I'd let the family down of which I was not proud
I left after about an hour and said goodbye, and went on my way
And hoped unpleasant memories of my past would now fade away.
Written on the 18th September 2022.
Inspired by the opening scene of Brideshead Revisited, a television series
produced in 1981 by Granada Television and was based on the book of the
same name written by the English author Evelyn Waugh.
Copyright © Tom Cunningham | Year Posted 2022