Z digresses

Of course I do, because that is what Z does. I was reminded by a comment on yesterday’s post about a trip to London when Al was five or six years old.

It was a birthday treat, and we’d suggested that he might like to bring a friend, as well as Weeza of course. He chose James, who lived in the next road. James’ mother was a sweet woman, a year or two younger than I was and we often walked home from school together and chatted. She went everywhere by bike, with James’ younger brother on the child seat at the back. When she had James with her too, she walked and pushed the bike. As often or not, James himself had a ride on the saddle.

We often had visits to London, but James never had been there and was a bit nervous. We went to the Natural History Museum, showed him Buckingham Palace, rode on the Tube and a red bus and visited Hamley’s, the famous toy shop in Regents Street, where the children had ice cream sundaes in the basement café.

We must have had an evening meal too, though I can’t remember where. Probably steak and chips or something. We caught a latish train, for young children. The Lowestoft to London line had recently been much diminished, from Ipswich onwards. It had been relegated to a single track and only elderly carriages, three of them at most, chugged along the last leg of the journey, stopping at all the country stations. Rumour had it that the only reason the line hadn’t been closed altogether was that our local MP used one of those little stations and had the ear of the Prime Minister, and it was probably true. The journey took the best part of three hours, not including stopover time in Ipswich, considerably longer than similar distances from more favoured places.

So it was around half past nine when we were on the final leg and the conductor came to chat to the boys. He was a delight, with a dry humour, quite a tease. Alex summed him up at once and played along with the jokes, whilst James took him seriously and was wide-eyed.

There’s no point to this story. Just a memory to make me smile. I met James’ mother some years after we’d moved out of Lowestoft and she was happy to tell me that both her boys had gone to university and owned their own houses – the first in the family to do either.

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