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U3A Writing: Special Treats

…I am sat on the Victoria Monument with my father and a policeman bending over me. In the heat and excitement I had fainted. The policeman disappeared, to return with a glass of water bearing the Royal Coat of Arms – the nearest I have ever come to royalty… Jean Kirby recalls memorable childhood outings.

Two special things happened to me when I was ten. The first was a day out in Liverpool, travelling through the Mersey Tunnel and a ride on the overhead railway around the docks.

The docks were extremely busy, full of large ships, bigger than anything I had seen before. They were being unloaded by large cranes, swinging nets full of goods from the hold.

As we were travelling around, a Chinese man came and sat opposite us in the carriage. Our attention was immediately distracted from what was happening outside. This man was eating red plumbs from a brown paper bag, but what was happening to the stones? He ate the whole bag full but never spat out one stone. Goodness knows what state his stomach was in.

The second thing to happen that year was in July, at the beginning of the summer holidays. I was to accompany my father on a trip to London. The excitement was intense, as I had never travelled so far before. How different to our grandchildren.

We boarded the train in Brighouse. At that time it was on the main line to London. I felt very grown up, but rather nervous. We had lunch on the train, with white table linen, polished silver and sparkling glassware. I have no idea what we ate.

Arriving in London we travelled by taxi to the Bedford Hotel in Southampton Row. At ten years old, to go into dinner in a large hotel restaurant was rather daunting.

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast of poached fish – something I had not eaten at breakfast before – we set off sightseeing.

The British Museum was wonderful, and I was enthralled with the Egyptian mummies. The Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Zoo and a trip on the river to Greenwich were all on the list. We travelled on the Underground and up long escalators, coming out into brilliant sunshine. It was like another world.

One morning we walked through Green Park to watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. The weather was very hot, and the crowd was very large. I remember hearing the horses coming up The Mall - and - whoops! . . .


I am sat on the Victoria Monument with my father and a policeman bending over me. In the heat and excitement I had fainted. The policeman disappeared, to return with a glass of water bearing the Royal Coat of Arms – the nearest I have ever come to royalty. I felt very important when he wrote my name and address in his little black book.

I have to say I was none the worse for fainting. We walked back to eat a large lunch at one of Lyons Corner Houses. To this day I have not seen the Changing of the Guard.

I visited my first foreign restaurant, called The Green Parrot, but don’t remember what we ate.

One afternoon we saw a man and woman who looked as if they were going to a wedding. The lady was in a pale blue suit, blue stockings and shoes, and had blue hair – we didn’t see much of that in Brighouse.

All too soon the holiday was over and we were back on the train to return home. It really was a memorable experience.

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