The most remarkable story my Dad ever told me was the one about the time, back in the Sixties, when he went for a drive in the countryside with my Mum (in those days, people drove for PLEASURE) and they happened upon a small, sleepy village, which seemed oddly familiar.
After driving slowly around for a bit, he suddenly realised why. “Good grief,” he said to Mum, “I KNEW I recognised this place – it was where I was living during the war, just before I got posted.”
They continued driving around – and Dad pointed out the pub where he had spent the evenings with the other men in his unit, the tiny flea-pit cinema where he had seen “High Sierra” (his then-favourite film) and the chippy that had supplied most of his nutritional needs at the time.
Then suddenly he stopped, opposite an old shoe repair shop. “My God,” he said, “I remember taking a pair of brogues in there for repair – but the next day, me and the fellers were sent off to help Monty out and I never came back here. I wonder if they’re still there?”
“After twenty years, I rather doubt it,” replied my Mum.
On an impulse, my Dad decided to venture into the premises to find out. As they walked through the door of the shop, they were greeted by the smell of decay, old leather – and very little else. The shop was deserted.
The “ting” of the bell over the door and several calls from both having elicited no reply, they were about to leave when suddenly they heard a shuffling noise from the back of the shop and a little old man emerged and asked them what they wanted.
Now feeling a little foolish, my Dad said he had left a pair of shoes for repair. The old man asked him for his ticket. When my Dad explained he had lost it, the man asked his name. My Dad gave him that and the old man shuffled off into the gloom once more.
Several minutes elapsed and my parents were considering quietly sneaking away when the old man re-emerged from the back of the shop, holding a dust-covered pair of shoes. My Dad was amazed – they were the very pair. “How much do I owe you?” he asked.
The old man said, “They’ll be ready Thursday.”
Footnote: the expression – “that was a hell of a long way to go for THAT one” – comes to mind!!