He doesn’t know how long he has been wandering the streets; it might be two hours or it might be four. He stops and pulls out his packet of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and lights one. As he exhales the smoke curls round him, then vanishes into the cold night air. Shivering, he wishes he’d put on his overcoat.
The streets are silent; nobody is around but himself. A darkened window from the building opposite casts a solemn eye in the dim gaslight.
He crosses the street and finds himself turning a corner aimlessly. His shoes echo on the pavements as he walks; each step falling into the rhythm of his heartbeat, intensifying the aching loss settled there.
Before him the park where it all began looms into his sight—
A lovely blonde is weeping looking down at the ground. “Oh where is it? Where is it?” She moves around frantically. His heart goes out to her.
He wipes away her tears gently with his handkerchief as she tells him she’s lost her grandmother’s cameo brooch.
“I know it won’t replace what you’ve lost but I’d like you to have this.” He places a small box on the table in the tea rooms and pushes it towards her.
“You are the kindest sweetest man I’ve ever known,” she tells him, her voice trembling, and her blue eyes filling with tears.
His heart leaps as she takes his hand.
“I just want to make you happy,” he says.
Warm sunlight, the scent of summer flowers in the air, and her arm linked with his as they walk along the river. She fingers the brooch on her jacket and smiles.
Wrapped in each other’s arms, her blonde hair soft against his cheek. He murmurs words of love in her ear.
Waiting for her at the restaurant, checking his watch, waiting...
“Dinner for one sir?” asks James the waiter.
“No thank you. I’ve lost my appetite.”
“Of course, sir.”
A tear rolls down his cheek as his memories haunt him and bare limbed trees sway over the bench where he had found her that summer’s day. As he turns to walk away something rolls under his shoe. Bending down he picks it up. He holds it under a street lamp and sees that it is an oval brooch; he runs his fingers over the silhouette in the middle, then closes it tight into his palm.
Upon listening to In A Blue And Pensive Mood I had a daydream of the “character” in the song, sung by Al Bowlly.
As a “song stylist” (as he described himself) Al lived each song he sang, putting “his whole being” into his song (as Joyce Stone* put it). He has such an affecting way of drawing you into his songs.
The above vignette is what I saw in my reverie. I like the ambiguity in the lyrics: we don’t know anything about the woman he has lost, how it happened or why. My reverie adds a little more detail to the lyrics but leaves it open to interpretation, and I hope, evokes a poignant feeling.
Unlike novels, vignettes (short stories) capture a scene or scenes instead of having a beginning and an end, with a conclusion. Vignettes to me are rather like looking at an old photograph: a moment in time which when you observe it, it’s in the present, but yet it is in the past.
I used the present tense for the viewpoint of the song’s narrator (sung by Al) to create this effect. We the listener (or reader) can be more involved in his story this way.
*Joyce Stone was the wife of the band leader Lew Stone; one of the bands Al sang with.
Below is a video I made which creates a visual vignette of In A Blue And Pensive Mood: