Volume 2 – A new life begins – chapter 5 – early marriage – part 1 - on honeymoon (taken from chapter 2 – early marriage – post 54
The week we had in London raced by in a flash, every day we were out and about seeing the sights and there were plenty of those. The only time we went further a field was a day trip we took to visit my father’s sister Aunt Anne, who lived at Harlow. She was very welcoming and we had a lovely day, seeing the sights and enjoying the impressive spread she put on for us at teatime. There was not a moment that we did not enjoy during this week, the weather was dull and sometimes wet, but it was not bitterly cold and we had no snow. We travelled mostly on the underground which took us close to every place we wanted to see; we visited the Tower of London, the British Museum, Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and quite a few others. Included in our itinerary were a few places I would not have visited had I been alone, and there were some places that I would have certainly included had the choice been entirely mine. I was learning the first lesson about married life, you could no longer please yourself, and in trying to prove your love and affection for your partner, you had to put yourself out, to oblige the one your cared about. Years into the future you discover that you are not the only one doing this, your better half was doing it as well, though it never occurred to you at the beginning when it seemed that you were the one that was being accommodating. We visited art galleries like the Tate, because Jackie liked such places, and we never went to the War Museum because that was not to her taste. Being on honeymoon it was not a hardship to demonstrate one’s love in this way, but in later years it was more difficult, though not impossible. I discovered that if you really loved someone your one desire was to make them happy, and if they were doing the same then you had a successful marriage.
The fur coat I bought for Jackie as a wedding present was put to good use. Looking at this picture of us feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square would you have guessed we were on our honeymoon? We thought we looked just like everyone else; the fact that we asked a passer-by to take our photograph would not have given us away we would have thought, but something did. A couple of minutes later a camera man approached us and suggested we might like some pictures for our wedding album; I could not believe that he had recognised us for what we were.
I suppose we stood out like a sore thumb though we had no idea that we did; the staff at the hotel knew why we were there, though we had tried to look like an old married couple. There were one or two incidents that might have given us away I realise now, like the day the cleaning lady let herself into our room to do her work, and found us both in a state of undress, and this in the middle of the day. I was standing by the bed in my underwear and on seeing the maid entering I dived under it. Fortunately Jackie was in the bathroom and so avoided any embarrassment I’m glad to say; this incident alone would have spread around the hotel like wild fire I have no doubt. Our reason for being there apparent to all, or so it would seem, but I can assure the reader that we were not indulging in all day hanky panky, we were just changing for an early dinner and then an evening at the theatre. We had booked to see the well known singer of the period Lonnie Donavan, you know the chap who made popular songs like ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ and ‘Cumberland Gap.’ So they got it wrong didn’t they, but on the other hand they got it right for the wrong reason. I suppose you could have put an innocent interpretation on the fact that I would also play a wonderful ‘Beck stein’ grand piano in the lounge for my companion, though my choice of romantic music and the fact that I would do this only when we were alone just might have made some suspicious.
This picture is a favourite of mine and not because I took it myself with my father’s old folding Kodak camera. I like it because it depicts the girl in my life as she really was; kind, gentle and a real sweetheart. Feeding the animals and birds in the Green Park with the misty background adding to the magic of the moment, well it did for me.
I can never look at this picture without feeling again what I had felt at that moment when I took the photograph. Much water has passed under the bridge since that magic moment in December 1956 but I still remember how I felt and still do; no matter how much time passes that feeling will remain with me forever.