The story I wrote the other day about taking my young son on the Underground was not the only thing I loved about London. There was a lot more and each could be a full story in itself. In fact I have written posts on each of the following. But for today I will only sketch the outline.
Peter Pan Statue. If you walk down Sussex Gardens you come to Hyde Park, The Serpentine and Kensington Gardens. In the Gardens there is a wonderful statue of Peter Pan. The book, “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” is a children’s novel by J. M. Barrie. The author had a statue made and in 1912 it was set up in the gardens. Now, by itself, this is not overly remarkable but the story that I heard back then was amazing. Barrie paid for the statue himself and wished it to be a surprise for the children of London so he organised that one evening – 30th of April – he would have the statue erected.
This happened at night after the gates were closed and the job was completed by morning so that when children came to play in the gardens it seemed to have appeared by magic. I imagine that today the requirements for permission, Health and Safety Regulations, overtime penalty rates and Planning certificates would mean that the Gardens would be locked up for six months or more.
Moragh. In the Hotel where we stayed in Sussex Gardens there was a Scots lady named Moragh. She had a permanent room and at night she would come in late and I do suspect that she had had one or two glasses of uisge beatha which I was to learn more about in coming years. One evening at dinner she asked us if we were planning to go to Scotland. We said that we hadn’t planned that because we were going to Spain. She thought that it was a shame to come all the way from Australia and to miss going to Scotland. And anyway we didn’t, at that time, have a car.
She told us that she had a little car in a locked garage. Cars need to have a good run every now and then. If we promised to use it to go to Scotland we could have it for a week or so. We would be doing her a favour, she said. She handed the keys and gave me an address and the next morning we set off for Scotland.
Moragh asked for nothing in return. She asked for nothing as security. She took my word for it that I would bring her car back but she hadn’t even asked for my word.
So we went to Scotland. And I still remember Moragh.
The bus conductor. One day the baby and I ran for a bus. I had been looking at Piccadilly Circus and I wished to catch the bus going up Regent Street. I had been on a bus from there before and I hoped it would turn left into Oxford Street because that would get me to Sussex Gardens. As I hopped on the bus I asked the conductor, “Does this bus go along Oxford Street?” He seemed to ignore me and said nothing. We climbed the stairs to the top deck and sat at the front. As the bus went on its way I could hear the conductor downstairs, “Tickets please. Tickets please, man.” On and on he went. Then he climbed the steps. “Tickets please. Tickets please, man.” He came closer and closer to me and as he went by he leaned toward me and said, quietly, “No man.” “No what?” I asked. “No man. This bus don’t go along Oxford Street. But I’ll tell you when you can get one.” So we went on and one stop before Oxford Street he said, “You can get the Oxford Street bus right there.” So he had saved me one complete fare and put us right onto the correct bus. He waved goodbye and said, “I hope you learn to like London.” How did he know? I have no idea. But I still remember that man. It is little things that count.
Click on the link below if you want to read more about the Statues of Peter Pan.