a contradictio in terminis perhaps,
is nevertheless a tourist’s must have been
so I went there to feel with my own eyes
what I could not have read in a brochure.
Here once Italian prisoners of war stayed
and now it was a museum of the second world war.
The authentic scent of old clothes and artefacts
in some thirty barracks, called huts,
took me back to a time before I was born.
It was not a busy day.
Old people with happy smiles, listening to Vera Lynn,
were enjoying themselves, reliving times they remembered
while in the canteen I thought of my father who had liked Vera Lynn.
The whole location was him for some reason.
“They are all over the place,” a caretaker in a pink cardigan said,
trying to get the elderly visitors back to the bus. “Won’t you help me find one, love?” she asked. “I seem to be missing one of my ladies.”
So I went looking in all the huts, from The Home Front and The Rise of Hitler all the way to the Toilet Block.
As I walked back, I noticed
that there indeed was an old lady
sitting alone in the otherwise empty Music Hall, humming a tune.
“Hallo, madam,” I said. “The bus is waiting for you.”
“I won’t be joining the others,” she said. “We shall elope.”
She smiled heavenly. “Don’t tell Dot.”
Out of nowhere came a young man,
dressed in an old-fashioned soldiers uniform,
and he approached her.
She rose and he gave her his arm.
Then there was music. He led her into a waltz,
and she seemed younger and younger, then of they went,
out the door. Silence.
I waited a bit before returning to the canteen
to bring Dot the news.
“I can’t find the lady,” I said.
“Never mind, love, I’ve got them all now,” was Dot’s answer.
The pensioners left the camp to go to the bus,
smiling, though they were one lady short I think.
This actually happend (more or less) in 2007 when I was there. Maybe it is not a poem though?