A Party to End All Parties!

7 Jun

A Party to end all Parties….London’s Diamond Jubilee!

What can I say…I have packed in so much over the past 2 days, I don’t know where to begin, actually, the beginning is probably the best place. Monday was a somewhat free day after we checked out of Plaza on the River and returned home to LSE High Holborn Dorms. We had no commitments till WAR HORSE at the New London Theatre at 7:30, followed by the BIG CONCERT on the Mall. Decided to walk through areas of East London, so that when I look at a Map, I know where the people I am researching actually live. Got out my handy Bus Map and caught the first bus going in that direction. Met a mother and son on the top deck of the double decker and learned how difficult and expensive it was to buy a flat in London, even the East End. They were going to look at a place for the son who works in London proper. If he bought something, he would have a commute of about 45 minutes to his office.

My bus was taking me along Liverpool Street near the Spitalfields Market area, then on to Bethnal Green and Hackney where I got off to explore. Time for a drink break so popped in to a small news agent shop where I could pick up the papers with their coverage of the Thames River Parade. There was an elderly Indian gentleman, better not say that, as we were of a similar age, sitting at the rear of the small establishment. He was friendly and asked why I was getting so many papers. Explained I was visiting from Canada for the Diamond Jubilee. We talked about where we had watched the parade and then progressed to my views on London, the Youth of today and how different they are from our generation. We talked about India and our mutual connection. He was born there. My great uncle, Richard Sleath died there,  sometime in the early 1900’s. He fought with the British Army in the Punjab and was discharged in Calcutta where he married an Anglo-Indian woman. I thought about the connections that exist between those born in Commonwealth countries and this weekend in London, it was those ties that brought us together to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Our  Queen. Time to move on, so I said goodbye.

Returned to the City, had a late English Breakfast near the British Museum. Decided as it was only 4:00PM, I should do more exploring. This time it was a bus trip through Whitechapel, Mile End, Stepney Green and ending up near the Olympic Park. As I walked through these areas, I thought about all the people who had also journeyed through here…Eastern Europeans, Jews, Chinese, Germans, Indians, Bangladeshis, Jamaicans and the English who moved into London from the villages. Because this area is near the docks, it was a place of first settlement. Much of this area was bombed in WW2, then huge Housing Estates were built to house the working poor and today much is being torn down to make way for gentrification as well as the completed Olympic Park and the super large Westfield Shopping Centre at Stratford.

Went to see WAR HORSE, a story of a boy and a horse who go off to fight. It was so emotional and when you have a front row seat (theatre built like the Maclab Theatre at the Citadel,) to all the war action with gun fire and dead and dying horses and people  all around you…sometimes it was hard to breathe. The horses are truly amazing and the goose from the farm a delight. I did a presentation some time back called “Letters from Elsie”. It told the story of my Dad’s cousin, William Perkins from the small village of Claybrooke Magna who went off to WW1 and who died in the trenches in France at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917. AGE 19! This show definitely hit home and my hanky was sodden by the time the play ended. Good thing I was off to something a little lighter in The Mall. Watched the end of the Big Concert, ( Hazel and Pearl had opted to sell their War Horse tickets, and take in the entire concert)  which showcased decades of music with the likes of Sir Paul and Sir Elton and the fireworks. It had been a wonderful day of exploring the East End of London,  few tourists bother with it,  and then connecting with the World in The Mall…….100,ooo or so!

Tuesday was the service at St. Paul’s Cathedral and the carriage ride down The Mall. I saw only glimpses of royalty as there were thousands of people. I did get a good view of some of the 2000 who attended the service by invitation, in their fashionable outfits. By the time I got to Trafalgar Square to watch the carriage parade on the Big Screen, the police had cordoned off the area because of overcrowding. Tried a few back alley routes, but eventually got jammed in a narrow lane with several hundred others all trying to get up close. Never in my life have I seen crowds of this size. After the carriage had passed, the masses tried to move to the Mall. Just about that time the skies opened up for another deluge which was to continue all night. I have a photo of Trafalgar Square and all you see is umbrellas. At 3:30 there was the fly past over Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family appeared on the Balcony and then it was all over. The four days of Diamond Jubilee Celebrations ended as they had begun…… in the rain! It  really didn’t matter. It was simply being here,  as one of the 1.2 million people who had gathered for a common purpose….to honour a very special woman for her 60 years of service….It was as I had hoped, A Party for the Ages!… A Party to end all Parties….London’s Diamond Jubilee!

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