Friday, 25 October 2013

Sepia Saturday: Mr & Mrs Light Come To Town

Well, I've been scratching my head, trying to decide on a post that befits the 200th Sepia Saturday celebration and, finally I have one. First published on 20th November, 2010, it's a story about my Great Great Grandparents, as reported in the Daily Herald on Wednesday, 25th August, 1937.

Two excited old people, Mr. Wellington ("Duke") Light, 78 year-old Hampshire farmer, and his 74 year-old wife, yesterday visited London for the first time.

They came as guests of the "Daily Herald" - and their visit fulfilled a life ambition.

For, they had never before been more than 25 miles from their home in Colden Common, near Winchester.

Married 52 years, they have never been separated, had never ridden in a bus or been to a theatre or cinema.

Here is how they spent their day with a "Daily Herald" Special Correspondent, who showed them the sights.

1 P.M. Driving over Westminster Bridge, they catch their first glimpse of the river.
"How beautiful," says Mrs Light, "Look Duke, it's just like the sea. And is that Big Ben right up there? We've read all about him in the papers."

1.10 Passing Buckingham Palace. "Is that where the King lives," asks Duke, unbelieving. "why does he have such a great place as that?"
Mrs Light interpolated the story of "how we nearly couldn't come to London after all because one of Duke's pigs, which he bought at market yesterday at 22s. each, and very nice little pigs too, escaped and ran away. But it was all right after all. We found him this morning, sleeping in the next sty."

1.15 Mr and Mrs Light shake hands all round at the Royal Palace Hotel. Going up to their room they take their first trip in a lift.
"What?" says "Duke," again incredulous, "Up three flights of stairs in about a second. I never would have believed. If that isn't a licker."

2 P.M. Lunch in the Cumberland Grill. Says "Duke," pointing to the concealed lights, "Is that the sun coming in there? No? It must be some wonderful lights."

Later, he tells the waiter how he nearly couldn't come to London because of the lost pig, lights a cigar and clears up the Stilton.

3.30 "What high buildings you have up here" (around Marble Arch) "I never dreamt there were such places."

4.15 At the Bank of England, they see "where the money comes from," and watch the pigeons outside the Royal Exchange.
"I used to keep pigeons," says Mrs Light, "but the cat killed them all. Does anybody ever feed these, (anxiously) I thought they looked well fed."

5 P.M. "I do believe my man will want to come and live here," she adds, as the car slips along the Embankment. "Well, I've heard a lot about London, but I never would have believed," says "Duke." "What a mighty place it is to be sure."

5.30 "marvellous, marvellous" they both say in Hyde Park. "You Londoners ought never to want for fresh air."

6 P.M. Mrs Light tells the manager of the hotel all about the day (and about the lost pig).

Mr Light explains to the Hall Porter that "it's the best day I ever did spend. Fifty two years we've been married, last Monday as ever was, but I never dreamed of anything like this and that's the truth."

8 P.M. At the News Theatre, they see their first pictures. "It's hard to think it isn't real," whispers "Duke," in my ear. "I've read about the pictures, but I never would have believed…"

Later he confesses that the Silly Symphony, "Father Noah's Ark," troubled him a little. "I don't like mockery…"

9 P.M. On the way back to the hotel. "I've told that manager man," says Mrs Light, not to be surprised if I'm up at 5 o'clock tomorrow raking the fires about. He did laugh!" They decided that tomorrow they would like to see the Zoo.

My Grandmother told me that Duke and Jinny had their trip to the Zoo, but although they knew the animals were well cared for, it upset them both to see them in captivity. At that point, Jinny became homesick. She thought about her cows, wandering free in the meadows, and suddenly she felt like a prisoner. She was never one to mince words, and duly informed her hosts that she had seen enough and wanted to go home.

On their return, Duke was asked if he had been nervous about anything. "Only of the bath," he exclaimed, "we're only used to an inch or two in the tin bath in front of the range. In the hotel, the maid had filled the bath three parts full!" This, he thought, was wasteful.


  1. A wonderful description of their trip and if I hadn’t heard it from you Martin...I never would have believed!

  2. "I don't like mockery." Ha ha. I love this! My favourite bit is the way the pig is woven into the story. Just great, Martin!
    Duke would be appalled at the way we use water now, wouldn't he?

  3. What a wonderful charming story. Bless them both for they are surely the salt of the earth!

  4. Hi, Martin. So nice to see you participating in Sepia Saturday this time. (Either you've been gone for a while or I have, or both of us!)

    I remember reading this the first time you posted it. The Lights seem like such a sweet couple. It's easy to tell what's important to them: water conservation, animals (both the pigs and the zoo animals), and home.

    I was remembering your post about your grandfather (at I think it's one of my most favorite SS posts ever. The photo is fabulous and the way you describe the photo is even better.

  5. The Streets of London Are Not Paved With Gold...they Are Paved With Light :)

  6. I love how the zoo made her homesick for her cows roaming free. What a cute story.

  7. Good to see this story again, Martin (and you). Darn those pigs.

  8. How wonderful. I wonder what they'd make of it now?

  9. Their tin bath brings back memories for me who was only a few months old when they took their trip. Marvellous post. We still have one or two old people in our village like them who have never been to London.

  10. There's no place like home! What a sweet story - they seemed to be so perfectly satisfied with their life. I can't imagine never being separated from one's spouse. I particularly like the comment about the Bank of England being where the money comes from. Great post.

  11. I love how your there story plays out in timeframes. Great post for Sepia Saturday 200!

  12. A fine choice. You could easily turn this into a great screenplay for a short film. Audiences around the world would be charmed by Duke and Jinny.

  13. I loved this and all their comments allowing us a great laugh at the present from their eyes. Good post

  14. A perfect post, packed with insight and discovery in this game we call "real life" you made my evening reading so pleasurable thanks Martin.

  15. A sweet story. I hope Duke didn't think he was being mocked when he read the report.

  16. I love this post -- and the picture. Well worth the re-read. Charming folks.

  17. This is such a wonderful story. I had posted a comment before but I don't see it here now. I did read it the second time.

  18. filling the bath 3/4 full - now that is very wasteful (and possibly dangerous) ;)

  19. Until I saw the newspaper, I wasn't really sure if that was a real story or something your made up (though I suppose the newspaper could be fiction too).

  20. Fabulous post. I loved the bit about the pig.

  21. Thank you so much, to everyone who has left a comment. I'm trying to get around to read all posts, but may not have time to comment on each.

  22. Martin I've just managed to nab some blog-reading time and LOVED reading this post. I will never forget Mr. and Mrs. Light - and the pigs. They were very "sound" not to have been completely overwhelmed by their experience!

  23. It’s like something out of Cider with Rosie. I hope you have other tales about these lovely people.

  24. There's no part of this I don't like,
    the pig, the tin bath and mockery!!

  25. lovely story - thanks so much. Wouldn't it be nice if we could be satisfied with the simpler ways and a bath half full. Darling sweethearts...


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.