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The Stroud Community Web is an online news and information source for Stroud and surrounding communities. An initiative and ongoing project of Stroud Lions Club.

A Lasting Memory

A story by Beryl Bowden…more

One night, seventy years ago, at a ball in the Stroud School of Arts, Sandy Wilson and I lived a magical moment.

When the M C announced an Old Time Waltz and Jimmy Hunt’s orchestra had ‘struck up’ the lovely Blue Danube Waltz, Sandy hurried across the room to claim me for the dance. First on the floor, we had glided just a few steps when we became aware that Jimmy Hunt was standing on the stage, gesturing with his arm to discourage other couples from joining us.

We had the floor to ourselves!

Jimmy allowed us a full circuit of the hall before beckoning the other couples to begin. (That he had singled us out for this cameo performance was a tremendous compliment.)

Floating on a bright cloud of music, my full skirts swirling round our legs, feet barely touching the floor, we were in another dimension. Ours was a heightened awareness to all around us. In a private world of sensation and movement we smoothly and effortlessly kept time with the strict dance tempo of the music. Steeped in the glorious melodies of Johann Strauss we were oblivious to everything but the exquisite enjoyment of the moment. In seventh heaven…we could have danced all night.

When the music ended, Sandy took my arm and escorted me to my seat. We didn’t speak. We both knew we had experienced something that could not be explained and we didn’t try. Words were not necessary.

“Thanks, Bob”, he murmured as he walked away.

Through the years, Sandy and I danced often, but never again was the wonder of that one waltz ever repeated…nor did we wish it to be. Repetition would have made it ordinary… what we had experienced was far from ordinary. It had been a unique happening that we were privileged to be part of. We never spoke of it to anyone…it was much too precious…and personal. Anyway, who would have believed it?

Recently, Sandy came to see me. He had been told I wasn’t well. During his visit I brought up the subject of that waltz and asked his permission to write about it in my regular blog for the Web. He agreed and I realised his remembrance of that particular event is every bit as clear as mine. (Sandy even remembered that the frock I was wearing was white, with lots of frills round the bottom of the skirt!) As we talked, the memories and sensations came flooding back; after seventy years the immense thrill is still there!

Both born in Stroud in 1925, we are good friends with never a hint of romance. We don’t know why this special dance happened … we just know it happened. Perhaps a blend of time, place, sense of occasion, youthful exuberance and ego, had all combined to create a special moment in time for us?

We are no longer nineteen, but eighty-nine; yet in our minds we can still recapture the magic of that night when we made a memory  “to last a life time!”


PS. Last Saturday 5th July 2014, at the 54th Stroud Annual Brick Throwing contest, the Committee asked Sandy, as a long serving committee member to throw the first brick; and because of my involvement with the rolling pin throwing through the years, I was invited to throw the first pin.

We were happy, and honoured, to do so.

As expected… we didn’t throw far!


2 Comments on “A Lasting Memory”

  1. Beryl Bowden July 22, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Thanks Annabelle. It is always pleasing to get favourable comments and to know that my efforts are appreciated.

  2. Annabelle Lewis July 18, 2014 at 1:17 am #

    Beryl, I live miles from Stroud. Quite a while ago I signed up to receive Stroud Web newsletter as I wanted to study the layout. I have never unsubscribed, partly because I enjoy reading the doings of your community but mostly for your delightful stories that never fail to give me great pleasure. Thank you. Annabelle

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