January 26

First published in Drifting Sands Haibun #2, August 2020. Originally written in 2017 on the third anniversary of my dad’s death.

At the start of World War II, when my dad was about twelve, he was evacuated from the south coast of England, to Winchester. In 1946, though the war was over, he was called up in the middle of architecture school for military service and registered as a conscientious objector. He was told to do either hospital or farm work. Dad got a good job in the accounts office for a hospital in the city of Portsmouth. However, after a short time, he was told that the job was too cushy for a conscientious objector. Then he took up farm work in Cambridge, and was put in charge of fruit-picking gangs for Chivers Jams. When in season, he picked fruit for the royal household in London. I remember my dad saying, with a gleam in his eye, how he used to pick strawberries for King George and Queen Elizabeth—and that he saved the best strawberries for himself.

         on the anniversary

         of his death

         strawberries and cream