Rita Lynn Jacob
I remember the day George VI died because I was being taken into town to buy some buttons for a cardigan that had been knitted for me, new garments still being a novelty in the early 1950s! I do not know, however, why my mother decided to go into the city centre via St. Ann Street and Dolphin Street rather than use the Milford Street route which was quicker, this being the reason we encountered the woman who told us the king was dead. I had never seen an adult cry before and her image is forever imprinted on my memory! The following poem was written in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee!
Dressed in a coat of cherry red,
Matching bonnet on my head,
Or was it a Kendall’s mac I wore?
The pavements were quite wet, I’m sure,
The sky above, a leaden grey,
As into town, we made our way,
Mother and daughter, hand in hand,
Past Dolphin Street and Southern Command.
Near the corner of Love Lane,
Out of nowhere, the lady came,
Cheeks wet with the tears she’d shed,
She told us the news ‘The King is dead!’
Mum spoke to her, then on we went,
To buy some buttons was our intent,
And, although at that time, I was only three,
Those moments were etched on my memory!
The following year, when I was four,
Flags and bunting hung outside our door,
While in a window could be seen,
An illuminated portrait of the Queen!
Across the road, around a small TV,
Invited guests watched the pageantry,
The rest of us just had to wait,
Until shown in the cinemas at a later date!
A street party was held in Tollgate Road,
My Mickey Mouse dress, my auntie sewed,
When we gathered at tables laid for tea,
A photo was taken for posterity!
We had cakes and sandwiches; mainly paste,
Jugs of drink with a Dettol taste!
In St. Martin’s Church Street, races and fun,
A lead figure and sixpence for everyone!
Along the Canal, Dad, Auntie and I,
Waved and cheered as the procession went by,
There were people on foot, bands and floats,
The Salisbury giant and a golden coach,
Through the Streets, it wound, on and on,
Then the music faded, and it was gone!
Up, we walked to Victoria Park,
Leaving the fair when nearly dark!
Now, festivities were over in the town,
In Rampart Road, the flags came down,
But for an hour, in the garden, I played,
With one of the horses from the parade,
And, in a hospital work shop, as a treat,
I sat in the coach on a velvet seat!
Its chassis and axles were so wide,
They almost touched the walls on either side!
(The building’s doors were taken away,
So it could be used on Coronation Day!)
Nearly sixty years on from ‘fifty three,
We’re celebrating a Jubilee,
Shops decorated red, white and blue,
With dozens of souvenirs on view,
Yet concerts, fireworks, flotillas of boats,
Can’t compare with that golden coach,
As, for a few minutes, by the world unseen,
A four year old girl felt truly a queen!
Rita Lynn Jacob