Monday, April 25, 2011

Foretold (Easter Monday) -- Zeppelin Over Ramsgate


during a thunderstorm, war broke out and one of my earliest memories is of being snatched from my cot and carried out in my father's arms on to the lawn of our house in Ramsgate, just in time to see a German Zeppelin cast its shadow on the rooftop from the vast moonlit menace of the sky. 

        I am told that I crowed with glee and stretched out my hands towards the long bright silver cigar, but this I cannot confirm; I recall the sight of vividly as one which afforded me considerable pleasure, but not my physical reactions to it.  The Zeppelin did not appear in the least threatening:  to represent, rather, the promise of a shining toy too large for me to handle at the age I was then but which, with luck, I might be given later.  The immense stretch of emptiness above, on the other hand, was daunting as I stared up into those stars that blinked back at me a message which I could not read; the cold remote globe of the moon seemed to swim backwards through clouds out of the Zeppelin's way as it passed safely over, and perhaps the silent consternation of those grouped around me on the lawn communicated itself, for suddenly I sent up a howl of terror.

     A memory of this irrational fear may have left its mark, since I am increasingly a prey to fits of agoraphobia when confronted alone, with large expanses of night sky in an open space, and when there is moonlight.

Excerpted from Julian MacLaren-Ross, The Weeping and The Laughter. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1953.

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