Bob & Flo

He knows her white name. Is charmed by its association with the Nightingale. Her father’s choice, deliberate, imbued with destiny.

In the early 1970s, my father was a medical resident in Wales. Blinded by our colonial legacy, we have always said he was in England. Wales had no connotations, no meaning beyond that attached to people (Prince of Wales) and colonial schools (Prince of Wales). In Wales, he was Bob.

Bob and Flo. Pub names.

* * *
My dearest darling:

I have met a few chaps here.
I don’t understand what the Welsh say, but they are so much warmer than the English.
We have Indians, Chinese, Jamaicans, Nigerians, English, Irish, Ghanaians, Goans.
Some of the fellows are awfully nice.

* * *
His diction, at times affected, other times merely awkward, strains to express what might be called a colonial sensibility. He is all commonwealth, chap, fellow, gels, and betrays the middle-class aspirations of his type.

My father’s generation of students aspired to be like their mentors: priests, pastors, teachers, nurses, doctors, the often insipid middle classes, secure in their middle-class morality. While they tittered at D.H Lawrence, had some acquaintance with Wilde and Waugh, perhaps even enjoyed Firbank, they were anchored in a denuded Dickens, wedded to the banality of a cliff-note Austen. Shakespeare was to be admired for his “characteristic excellences.”

Bob craves the ordinariness promised by his name.

* * *
Bob and Flo
Sitting on the grass

* * *
He takes her photograph in London. She leans against a fountain oh-so-casually.

Flo exudes charm. Her surroundings accommodate her. She has mastered the calculated precision of familiarity, never a smidge over. She knows more secrets than her abandoned laugh reveals. In plain sight. Hiding.

* * *
-remember to visit my parents. After all, they are your parents also.
-please send panties for the children
-life is cheap here so I can save up
-when will you come home?
-when will I come home?