Friday, 26 August 2011


An old photograph

The other day, as we were finishing our lunch, he looked up and asked me 'Do you remember where we were when we had our first argument?'

I was instantly transported back to a Sunday afternoon in1955 and Leicester Square, London. I felt my flesh taut on my bones, brushed my hands through my Hiltone blonded Doris Day DA and warmed to the September sun on my face. The bench is warm too where we are sitting as we wait for the afternoon showing of a film we both wanted to see and heard the voices  and the light Sunday traffic as a distant hum.

We've been 'going out' for a few months; though it really added up to perhaps less than fifteen of my days off from the Hospital.  By the time I had paid for essentials there was little left of my salary for trips home and I seemed to be forever trapped in debt-by the time I had repaid the Paper man for the cigarettes he 'put on tick' for me and the odd half-crown borrowed from someone to replace the holey black nylons I managed to get through as if they were made of cobwebs- I usually only had enough for one trip to Dreamland Ballroom and the first packet of cigs.

I cannot remember if we had three separate trips to London together, or if the 'argument' occurred on the same day that we had to run from Soho, all the way down Regent Street looking for a loo, with me in agony, bursting my bladder; not a romantic scenario at the time. Or was it also the day that we ate at a Chinese restaurant in Soho where I caught the Dysentery that would see me interred in a Hospital for infectious diseases for three months? [The restaurant was closed by the Health authorities shortly after our visit]

Kimo sabe, as we say in this house [this was either a phrase used by the Lone Rangers companion, or the actual name of the Lone Rangers companion] What it means chez nous is 'who can say?'
The argument began as a gentle discussion of fruit,of peaches, which were only just becoming available in Britain as our economy expanded. JP was saying how plentiful they were in the south of France. I said that I loved plums, the large dark juicy Victoria, and pointed out a couple seated next to us who were sharing a bag of them.

'Oh, you mean, Prunes!'
'No, prunes are dried plums.'
'Non, they are pruneaux '
'I think you mean prunus which is the generic term for plums, damsons, greengages etc.,'

I tend to forget that his English is pretty basic; when we first got together he had: yes and no, I'm hungry and, I love you.

'What do you call those round sweet greeny yellow fruits?' I asked.
'Rene Claude.'
'Well we call it a Greengage and it too is a member of the family Prunus.'
'No, a pruneau is what you call a plum and what we call a PRUNE!'

Now I'm getting a bit het up. I stand up and I'm afraid I took a stance, very Calamity Jane with hands on hips.

'Well, here in ENGLAND a prune is a dried up wrinkled PLUM.'
'And in FRANCE it is a PRUNEAU!'

I can't believe we are shouting, or why. He is standing now and facing me, mouth tight and eyes blazing. I walk away from him to the edge of the square and look back and see that he is walking in the other direction. I slow down and walk around the edge of the square tears falling as my anger dissipates. He has the train tickets and the money for the cinema. I hate him, arrogant French boy.  Head down I bump into him.

'Prune,' he says.
'Plums' say I.
And he holds me and kisses me and all is well with the world.

'Oh yes,' I say.  'I remember it well. And a plum is a plum and a prune.'


  1. I do so love these stories, you have a way of making them play out here right before our eyes. As ever, this tale is as captivating as only you can tell it, and I simply adore your writing! What a pair you two are, who couldn't fall in love with you both?

  2. Ah...sweet.......sometimes a little argument is over something and nothing....and making up is so lovely.

  3. A plum/prune..... although they are delicious, especially the juicy Victoria ones, are not worth getting into an argument about.

    I wish I could remember our first argument. We've had so many.......
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  4. You make me smile, thank you. I am glad you made up in no time, though.

    I remember the first big argument well. Trouble was we were on a tiny island - Isola del Giglio - and it was Saturday night and the ferry would not take us back to the mainland before Sunday night. ;-)

  5. Kemo Sabe is what Tonto called the Lone meant trusted friend. I LOVED the Lone Ranger. My brother and I watched it every day! Hi!Ho! Silver, Away! The Rifleman was also one of our favorites!!!! carried away there....I laughed out loud when you describe your hose as cobwebs. I have had a few pair like that!!! They were still usable on the calf part and that was all that showed below my dress, so who cared if my thighs were being held in by cobwebs. I just dotted the bottom part of the run with clear fingernail polish. That held it a while longer.

    Like Maggie May, we've had way too many arguments in 38 years to remember our first one. But, I'm sure it was something as silly as prunes/plums. And making up is always marvelous. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your story!!!

  6. I love reading your memories.

  7. I'm sure we all have our wonderful memories but very, very few of us can bring them to life like you can! Thank you for sharing this one - it's a classic!

  8. Thanks for the memory! I can't remember our first fight, and I that's probably because I hate fighting so much that I will do pretty much anything to avoid them.

  9. What a delightful story, about the argument, about places and times conjured up to retell the story. Magical!

  10. I do not think that I would have argued over a plum. Anyway it would not have happened in our house as arguing with my husband is like talking to a brick wall. He never answers back. I wish that I could say that he does not have a temper but he does.

  11. Well, so long as neither one of you is calling the other a prune, you're OK.

  12. Your stories are always such a treat. It's almost like being there.

  13. You have such a gift for bringing your stories to life!

  14. oh, this was so sweet and a wonderful trip for the senses. came over from hilary's spot to say congrats on your POTW!

  15. Ahh.. lovely ... and by the way the Lone Ranger's companion was Tonto.. he, Tonto, called Lone Ranger Kimo Sabe which supposedly meant 'my friend'

  16. Ah- what a lovely story!

  17. Those are my least favorite kind of arguments - where each person is actually talking about something different, or using a different word for the same thing. None of which, in the ends, matters at all.

    It's much more satisfying to have an argument where the end clearly proves one side or the other is right. You know, MY side. 8-)

  18. I got lost in reading and then it was over. This brings back memories for me too of arguments and love. Feels like a moment ago and forever ago at the same time doesn't it?

  19. I credit prunes for making me a regular guy.

  20. Great story...prunes and plums perhaps...but the hold and kiss make it memorable.

  21. Isn't language wonderful? Learning Italian as I am, I'm often tripped up by words which sound to my English ears as if they mean one thing, but they actually mean another!

    I can't believe you argued over the word for plums! It's funny, but it's silly, and I suppose, it's typical of young people in love! Cute!

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  23. boy, if mr. lime asked if i remembered our first argument i'd be hard pressed to come up with an answer. though i can recall some lulus i couldn't begin to dredge up the first. but glad yours ended the way it did ;)

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