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Sunday, 3 October 2010

Memories of Vietnam: parts 47,48: Going Slowly Home: The Bahamas. Kim, the Dog


47

Going Slowly Home

When I was in the army the regiment went off to the colonies or various wars by troopship. They also came home again by troopship. The French had used the 'Messagerie Maritime' to sail from Marseilles to Saigon and back again. It is the slowly going back home again that is important. I do not believe it is either good for the person concerned or indeed for his family to step straight off a plane from some distant war and suddenly appear on one's doorstep.

As a tourist ship from Bangkok was the last thing I wanted if indeed there had been one, I had flown from Saigon to Bangkok and then taken the train down to a small distant town on that narrow part of the country that is between Thailand, Burma and Malaya. I went to a place on the eastern coast that had a practically deserted hotel where I took a wooden hut on stilts for a week and drank whatever was bothering me out of my system.

I then made my way back to our office in Washington, stopping off here and there but not hurrying. Just slowly winding down. When about three weeks after leaving Saigon I reported into our office I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and feeling in fine form. I had an agreeable meeting with the powers that be and then flew down to the Bahamas via Miami.

The greetings at home went off perfectly and I settled in for a long leave.


48

The Bahamas. Kim, the Dog

Our dog Kim was overjoyed to have me back. His father had been champion Labrador of Canada; his mother a very gentle Golden Retriever. He was proud and full of energy. Before I went to Vietnam he used to accompany me in my Austin Healey Sprite. He would go completely crazy at the sight of kites though and became a real menace in the car. When I was in Nassau doing the night shift for Decca I would take him along to warn me of the Area Manager's arrival. He had this habit of dropping in on his way home at about one in the morning. Once when an ex US marine was on duty he saw a rubber mattress on the floor. Marines don't sleep on duty so he opened a cupboard and out popped a woman.

I took Kim for long walks on the beaches. Dogs are the most loyal of friends and never cause one any stress. It was a most relaxing time. I thought for a moment about buying some property as an investment and went off to Abaco. I spent the night in a small settlement of former United Empire Loyalists. These were people who had left America after their war of independence because they wished to remain under the crown. Some went to Canada and others to the Bahamas. Most strange people. The women wore long dresses down to their ankles. No makeup. No alcohol in the settlement nor any coloured people after dark. They were very inbred. I had much preferred the locals when I had been on the out islands. They were great fun. The land proposed didn't interest me nor did the future neighbours so nothing came of the visit.

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