THE TIMES QUICK CRYPTIC CROSSWORD (November 21) has the clue “Conjure up memories of Short Skirts at Church”.
I believe the answer is REMINISCE – RE MINIS CE, the Church being that of England.
I am transported back to the summer of 1966 when I was 24.
It was the tercentenary of the Great Fire of London, commemorated by a Fireworks Display on the Thames sponsored by the Evening Standard.
I am standing by the Embankment at the Strand Tube station and I raise my eyes to the trees above, festooned by long-legged females born into the Welfare State with its National Health Service and a vindication of it. They are all wearing mini-skirts, stockings and garters, their full charms not obscured by tights. As Wordsworth might have said, “Bliss it was that day to be alive, / But to be young was very Heaven.”
A few days later on, where Piccadilly met the Corner of the Circus by Swan and Edgars Department Store, a long-legged beauty bent to fix her shoes, apparently innocently showing her garters as two tall gentlemen in pinstripe suits, bowler hats and regimental ties, carrying tightly furled silk umbrellas, were passing by. Their neat moustaches curled up like two Laughing Cavaliers.
If one could have caught the scene on a movie camera, dubbed it with a bar of Rule Britannia and sold it to the Americans, one could have made a fortune.
While I might have spent a fortune, I had treasured a forgotten memory, rescued by a crossword clue.
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