Night To Remember

Entry by: macdonald

12th November 2015
Night to Remember

A university place safely awaiting on the other side of summer I set off for the Scottish Highlands and a job in a Hotel. From the day I arrived it got hotter and hotter. I worked as a waiter, dishwasher, barman, odd-job man and sometimes at the weekend ceilidhs was instructed to dance with the resident singleton ladies. Mary arrived as a housekeeper two weeks after me. She was about twenty five then, much older and ludicrously more mature. She had a wondrous smile and the sing song accent of the Western Isles I guess she still will and although she'll be an OAP now will always be a fair haired, blue eyed beauty in my mind's eye. But over the years her face has faded, like an old painting fades, the colours dimming, cracks appearing, flakes dropping away. I only see her face clearly in my dreams now. I adored Mary and she seemed to tolerated my foolishness. She sang and played the guitar. I had passed my driving test and been given a car by my parents for my eighteenth birthday and she trusted me to drive her to gigs, and stay sober enough to drive her back afterward. My favourite song of hers was

'Oh the summer time has come,
And the leaves are sweetly turning
And the Wild Mountain Thyme
Blooms across the purple heather
Aaround the ll bloomin' heather
Will ye go lassie, go
And we'll all go together'

The summer quickly passed. In Mid August Mary was asked to perform at a posh party in the 'Big House' locally. A car wasn't required but she asked me to come along anyway. By then I think she saw me as a protector from the unwanted advances of the occasional male member of her audiences.
The party was an informal affair and Mary was only one of several live acts for a large group of well heeled middle aged people in dinner jackets and long dresses. Champagne and beer flowed and later the older people either went home or to bed, but Mary was invited to stay and the younger partygoers continued with a disco. Slade, Marc Bolan, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, the stones rang out over the back lawn which ran down to a hundred yards of the River Tay. It had been another sweltering day and for the first time I drank a lot of beer. It was free and seemed to be compulsory. A year later I would have handled this but soon I was quite drunk. Everyone ended up at the riverside and soon began smoking. I harboured a plan to join the Ubniversity rugby team a few weeks later and declined a smoke when Mary handed one to me.
'It's not tobacco,' she said. I inhaled a lot of the aromatic substance. I felt dizzy and lay down on the grass. The stars were out and for the first time I noticed how many there were and how each ne was a different shape and colour. Later drinking and smoking continued indoors and the party ended with skinny dipping in the Tay but I have no memory of that.
I awoke the next morning in a strange bedroom. Pastel colured walls, a lava lamp, joss sticks burning. I was naked under the blanket. Mary came through the door a few minutes later.
'And how is it you are feeling this morning,' she said. I had slept the night in her bed . Whether she had lain beside me or anything else had happened I had no idea. I mumbled an apology and hoped I hadn't embarrassed her.
'Och, not at all,' she said. 'You did ask me to marry you twice, though.'
I worked lunch as a waiter that day. The first order I took was,
'Two prawn cocktails please.' I lifted my pencil and a sudden realisation dawnd on me. The previous night I had had a idea, something so important that in my drunken state, under the influence of whatever chemical I had smoked I had the presence of mind to write . I couldn't remember what I'd written it on r what I'd done with the paper. I searched my clothes from the previous night. I asked Mary if she'd seen me writng anything.
''I tore a piece of white paper from my book of songs for you so I did and Jock Murray gave you a pen, so he did, and then you didn't even tell me what was so important that you had to write it down.'
That night we returned to the big house.
Mary did the talking and we were led into the basement room where the disco had taken place. I had been sitting for a time in the corner. I turned over the edge of the carpet and there was a carefully folded scrap of paper. I pushed it deep into my pocket.
Outside I took a deep breath and opened it. In large capitals I had written
'If I stand on my toes I can touch the ceiling.' I groaned in disappointment and Mary laughed.
The following week I left for university. I wrote to Mary in Freshers week, telling her my news, inviting her to visit and confirming my intention to come back to the Hotel for the Christmas season. I got a letter back a few days letter. She and 'Angus' were going to give it another go, she said. I had never heard of Angus. Her last line read. ' I'll never forget that party on at the riverside and you remember to keep on reaching for the ceiling.'
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