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Monday, 9 April 2007

A farewell drink: Saigon: Vietnam Memories

Around this time I said goodbye to John. He was returning to the States. He would come back but neither of us knew it at the time.
He had got married whilst I was on leave in the Bahamas. I had sent him a solid silver George Jenhsen beer can opener as a wedding present if I remember. The kind of thing one bachelor would send to a friend. Nothing like a can of beer when faced with a problem in marriage. We went to that American place down town for a drink. I wish I could remember its name. It was on the street running parallel to Tu Do if I remember, about half way down on the right going down from Le Loi.
Joe used to like going down there also. He liked company and either he was on a diet and everybody went without lunch at the office at Tan Son Nhut or he felt like a drink and everybody kept him company. It was restricted to those working for the United States. The food was good, the atmosphere pleasant. Too much airconditioning. Always an American fault that, which led to numerous sore throats and colds. Air conditioning to humidity and back again. Our useless American secretary had fallen flat on her face after leaving it one day. Most undignified. Vietnamese girls rarely drank and were certainly never drunk.
John and I went in. I put some money on the bar and we stayed there quietly drinking until it was gone. What do men talk about having a quiet drink and smoke in a bar? As we were leaving I put my last dollar in a slot machine, pulled the leaver and out popped twenty five dollars. Without a word we about turned and went back into the bar until it was all finished.
I needed a very stiff Bloody Mary the next morning before I was able to drive him to the airport to finally see him off.

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