Recollections of Lieutenant Colonel H Hughes RLC
and is included as a tribute to his own memory
“When that chap asked you where you were when Kennedy was shot, he wasn’t accusing you of anything!” Those of us old enough to remember the assassination of President Kennedy will no doubt know that old gag. But all of us will easily remember exactly where we were on September 11 last year. Twin Towers, New York 11 Sep 01 (AP photograph)For myself, a couple of Army chums and I were having a friendly beer with a delightful old ex-patriot called Rogue Barkus at his Happy Valley home in the shadow of Mount Kenya. We’d had a good day and were looking forward to an equally good night in the Mount Kenya Country Club and a game drive the following morning.
In one corner of his drawing-room the television was just bringing the first live pictures of the Twin Towers outrage to us. We sat in disbelief. What we were watching was surreal, monstrous, impossible. Rogue, who had family in New York, contained his anger and shock well and lifted his telephone to call a neighbour, explaining that she didn’t have a television. When his short conversation finished he called over to his wife that ‘Stef’ was coming down. I hardly heard him, engrossed totally with what was happening in New York.
My sense of the bizarre increased when a few minutes later a very beautiful woman, whose face I knew well, walked into the room. She, too, was in confusion and was clearly thrown by the Army combats. ‘What’s happening?’ she asked, sitting down on the sofa beside us. Her hands fluttered to her mouth as we explained in detail the extent of the tragedy that was still unfolding. The second aircraft had already impacted. We offered words of comfort, for she had friends who worked in the World Trade Centre.
As we sat there quietly talking, I was desperately trying to place her. She looked about thirty, but my mind was running back more years than that. And then I had it – Hart to Hart, the old series that all red-blooded males of my age watched with such admiration. It was Stefanie Powers.
Under different circumstances, our meeting would have held more joy. As it was, I quickly realised that we were out of place here, and with a few further words of condolences, we departed, stepping out into the blazing sunlight, each of us subdued with his own thoughts. Leaving those in the house to theirs.
Thank you to Cleft Stick