Harry The Light Technician (— and one other!)

Wednesday, January 1st, 1997

Harry worked backstage at Lincoln Center for the New York City Ballet and Opera. He wasn't the first 'light technician' who became my friend! (More about Harry in a future compilation of personal stories...)

— and here's another Light Technician Story from Beyond Boundaries: 'David, The Light Technician'

I'd been waiting outside Buckingham Palace for an hour and it was starting to drizzle. For nearly half of that hour, I was entertained by a delightful elderly man who made it his business to accompany all of us who stood at the authoritative wrought-iron gate awaiting the Changing of the Guard.

The man served as unofficial British spokesperson to tourists, purveyor of royal gossip, historian, and commentator. "An' thaat's wier ther Queen itself oft times peers aut aufta'ir m'ning tea! See? Raut thea! See?" he pointed upward, instructing with enough enthusiasm for this to have been his first day on the job. But his sing-song routine led one to suspect that this clearly could not be so.

Finally, the procession began, a distant sound of drums, trumpets, pets, and bagpipes, getting louder as the guards approached the front of the palace, marching up from around the back on Buckingham ingham Palace Road. They turned slowly in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial, began a new tune, and proceeded to file in through the front gate.

I wouldn't have thought it could take over two hours to change the guards. I'd grabbed a quick scone for breakfast, not thrilled with the dearth of breakfast eateries in London, even less thrilled each time I was referred to McDonald's. I was missing my customary apple or bran muffin.

I diverted my attention from my growling stomach to the guard who stood at attention directly in front of me, looking straight through the high black gate. He was facing towards me but couldn't have really been focused on anything that moved. I don't think he was even blinking.

By this time I had registered my initial reaction to the impressive and well-ordered event and slyly dedicated myself to the task of coaxing this guard before me to smile. He had red hair that looked fresh from the barbershop, green eyes, a thin face, long nose, and a mouth that slanted downward on one side. I decided to focus my energy on a point just between his two eyes. I was successful in my attempt; he flashed me a lovely split-second grin, then resumed his expressionless demeanor.

The guards turned on their heels, the sound of hundreds of shoe taps clicking in unison, and faced back toward the gate. I started thinking about where I would go next, and settled on a walk to Harrod's. I'd been told not to miss the hanging fowl in the Food Hall in the basement. It was my appreciation for a gift that came from there years before that lured me, more than the promise of displayed killed pheasant and quail. The gift I still treasure is a delicate pair of tiny sewing scissors in the shape of a stork.

Trusting that I was heading in the right direction, I walked across Constitution Hill to Green Park and stood by the street light to consult my guidebook. That's when I met David. He was leaning against the light post, and as I took notice of him, I felt that he had been watching, almost waiting for me, as I crossed the street. He was dressed in a business suit, dark hair falling down his forehead, which he kept pushing over to the side. He smiled and spoke with a now rare, authentic cockney accent, asking, "Cud aey 'elp eue, miss?"

I asked if he could direct me to Harrod's. "Jes dowen thes wey, 'yon ther paark 'ere," he offered, pointing further down Constitution Hill toward Knightsbridge, "an weil, since eim' eaded dowen they wey meself, wuy don' eye just walk wit' eu, wuy naut, eyi"

I accepted his kind invitation to show me the way, and hurried to keep up with his long strides. He lectured me about walking through parks alone, and again, I felt that I was meeting another very old friend. I was distracted by another concurrent past-life overlay of this man whom I now knew had been the jailer who had brought me food. We stopped outside the Paxton Pub, a long block from Harrod's. He said, sounding very protective and concerned, that I looked hungry, and might I join him for lunch and a lager?

I agreed, but reminded him that I would then have to resume my day's walking tour. We talked and laughed through lunch, and he described his job to me, managing a lighting crew for an advertising company. He was a light technician and seemed resigned signed to carry on his inherited station in life as a working class citizen. He asked me about life in the United States and about what I did. I answered him in general terms, and he nodded and smiled.

After lunch we walked out onto the sidewalk; he pointed toward Harrod's, shook my hand, and said something that to this day I find remarkable. As he turned to walk back in the direction we had come, he said to me, "Bye now! See 'eu in a 'nuther two hundred!"

There are times when I find myself in communication with a part of people's selves that they don't seem to be consciously connected-as if a timeless, awake part of them comes through. When this happens, I'm astonished at the things they say-maybe a quick, soft remark-which I doubt they would remember having said. I smiled and waved good-bye to David, wondering if we would meet again, perhaps in another two hundred.

Louise Platt Hauck. Beyond Boundaries: The Adventures of a Seer (Kindle Locations 537-539). Kindle Edition.