“Just arrived on the seven ten…..”

I felt bad about Mel Torme. Until my fortieth year I would praise his diction, his breathing, his command of a song structure. I would urge others to listen to the Velvet Frog, a nickname which, although accurate in describing his misty voice projection, seemed to me unkind as he faced me through the camera.   

“Thought I'd see the Old Gang Again…”

We would sit and listen to a few fifties vocalists, Anita O’Day, Blossom Dearie, Jo Stafford, but there was nothing like the Velvet Fog. Blue Moon, A Little Kiss Each Morning. Get out of Town. The Scrutineer painted at one end of the room, while I read by the fire.

 “But you know how they come and go…”

By mute agreement it was time to draw the curtains. As I watched, a parade of floaters followed in her wake. Some looked like amoeba, some like fried eggs, some performed a sort of glutinous dance around a fulcrum that was a cluster of sluggish threads.

As a child, travelling in the back of the family car, I found it a challenging but rewarding exercise to encourage my floaters to fly low over the land, rising to avoid water towers. Eventually I was skilled enough to send them into industrial estates, to emerge several miles later from a slip road.

Only a year ago a perfectly circular floater appeared with a fixed rim and its own inbuilt highlighting. When it first appeared from behind a church tower in Lincoln, I was convinced it was a flying saucer. Instead of fleeing my eye movements as its flighty cousins would, it slid into view, to settle for the closest scrutiny. It was capable on unsettling speeds, with unpredictable surges that boded ill for Mankind.

In the end I got used to the saucer as it was endowed with such monumental scale in an open sky, while reduced to a
Pinhead of an insect scuttling on the window sill.

She turned on the table lamps and smiled.

“ A stranger in my own home town…”.

The usual cast of floaters arrived stage right.   My smile in response to hers summoned up a chafing, tumbling gang of floaters and several companions new to the usual parade. There seemed to be a good natured slow motion fight among the main threads, scattering gemlike outriders. For the first time, a King Thread of impressive length appeared to command the horizontal prospect. It summoned subsidiary courtiers, with scintillating webbing supported by transparent drop scones.

Under these circumstances I can be excused for frantically blinking, fearing that the whole Baroque choreography could entail a loss of vision’s sharpness. Instead the Monarch of Threads drifted into the shape of a Mandorla with prismatic edges. What were the mathematical odds that the random filaments slowly transmuted from a perfect Mandorla to a perfect Circle? She smiled back, curious at the intensity of my stare.

“A fine night?”

She stood hands on hips framed by my ring of light drawn with the soft blue of the curtains. I was about to explain this unexpected optical phenomenon of projecting geometric shapes to contain her, when the Circle as it encountered the central light fixture of the room developed a perfect cusp. There she was, benevolent, surrounded by a perfect generous and genuine heart.

By this time Mel Torme had moved on to the covering of the waterfront.

I still remember the simple thrill of it all.

“Away from the city… I cover the Waterfront.”