It’s good to look ahead to better times. To make plans, plotting a course of adventure and daring-do. But it’s easy to wallow in bouts of nostalgia. I find myself with time to kill, and not much to kill it with. I’ve gotten through CNN’s series ‘The Eighties‘ and am half way through ‘The Nineties’. I’ve gotten through countless YouTube vlogs from places of interest around the planet. Indeed, I have circumnavigated the world through television food and travel shows over the last ten months. I’ve been going through old film favourites, like ‘The Beach‘ and the very topical ‘Painted Veil‘.
I’m now onto old war movies. I grew up on British and American war movies as a kid. The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape and Midway. When some light relief from WW2 was needed, we’d turn to Zulu – my dad’s favourite film. I hit my teens in time for the wave of Vietnam war films. I’ve recently watched Platoon, which is still a great movie, despite the death scene growing sillier with each repeat viewing. I also introduced Mrs P to Full Metal Jacket. Iconic, to say the least. But somewhat ruined for me now that I know where it was filmed. I no longer see the jungles of Vietnam, but the wreckage of London’s docklands. Still, the Mickey Mouse March at the end remains as surreal a piece of cinema as you’ll find.
In a few moments I shall sit down and watch Where Eagles Dare, a late 60s masterpiece that a fair number of cinema legends claim to be the finest war movie of them all. I must have seen it before, albeit decades ago? Yet I’m not certain, so I shall shortly press play to make sure. It fits in nicely with my morning walk which took me through the cemetery of St Peter’s church in Bournemouth. It’s not uncommon to find tourists in this graveyard, seeking out the resting place of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. But today I was more interested in the grave of RAF Navigator P.W. Brayshaw.
He lies in sodden Bournemouth turf, next to a most illustrious neighbour. Major Richard Harris met his maker in the most honourable fashion at Arnhem (A Bridge Too Far). If one is to perish in military service, it may just as well happen as a result of combat, I suppose. Alas, Percival Winston Brayshaw came to grief in an accident whilst serving aboard an Avro Lincoln bomber, just shy of 71 years ago. He was no age to die. But he is clearly not forgotten. His grave is more than simple nostalgia for someone. Is it a younger sister or brother who still visits his resting place, defying the limitations of their own grand age? Or a grandchild or nephew or niece who still places flowers to fulfil a promise? It could, just about, be a parent still mourning a son. If so, then the regular arrival of flowers will surely cease sometime very soon.