This will probably be my last Sepia Saturday contribution, for a while, and I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate 50 weeks of Alan's excellent blog, with a story of my 2 x 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 Bridges, 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.