An Attachment To The Gates.

Swan window display 12.63

TwiggyMary Quant and Twiggy; the former the celebrated dress designer; the latter the inspirational model, were  fashion icons of the 1960s. The swan in the December 1963 photograph that is today’s advent picture is embracing models sporting outfits in styles typical of these two leaders.

The card in the bottom right hand corner of Selfridge’s display is interesting on several counts.  The first is that anyone zooming in on it will see that the shop is open all day this coming Saturday.  Mathematicians will no doubt be able to explain why two dates exactly fifty years apart should fall on the same day.  In 1963 I could not afford to shop in the West End so was unaware of opening hours at that time, but why would it be necessary to make this announcement?  How times have changed.

The price tags on these ‘Young Style’ gems is 84 shillings, or 4 guineas. In today’s decimal currency that is the equivalent of £4.20.  Actually that was quite a lot of money in 1963.

When I first bought my new iMac I had not realised that I could name and provide a location for the photographs I have stored on iPhoto.  I therefore have some 2000 images to identify.  It being a miserably wet day, I made a start on the task this morning.

This afternoon we visited first Mum then Elizabeth in West End.  Mum in particular spoke about the cars that she and Dad had owned, and she, Jackie, and I swapped tales about driving tests.  Mum had required quite a few attempts, possibly because Dad had taught her, and his method was long on lecture and short on practice.  Jackie and I each had passed first time and each had made an error we thought would fail us, had another attempt, and got it right.  Jackie’s was a hill start.  Mine was reversing round a corner.  I still remember feeling the rear nearside wheel touching the kerb.  I stopped, came forward, straightened up, and then made a perfect turn.  I must have been advised that that was the thing to do.

Just in case anyone is thinking that I am feeling smug about having passed my test first time, especially after only three weeks at the wheel, please let me disillusion you.  Just days after I began life as an Assistant Child Care Officer in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames  (I had passed my test on the day I started the job), I used the Borough mini to drive me from Tolworth Tower in Chessington to the Guildhall in Kingston.  I had no idea where to park or what the various coloured lines outside the building meant.  It was as far back as December 1966, so I was actually able to take the car there.  ‘I won’t be long; I’ll leave it here’, I said to myself as I left the borrowed vehicle right outside the cast iron gates.  I entered the building and secured the loan cheque I had come for that was the purchase price of my Hillman Imp.  So far, so good.  I left the building.  The unmolested little mini was still there.  Intact.  Getting away from the awkward position in which I had left the car required at least a three point turn.  Easy peasy.  I’d done it in my test.  Reversing perfectly, turning the steering wheel appropriately, I gently approached the gate to stop and make the next turn.  Then I made my fatal mistake.  Coming to a standstill requires the use of a brake.  So I applied it.  I thought.  Actually I hit the accelerator.  And the mini hit the gate.  And stayed on it.  Stuck.  The railings having given the bonnet a suitably serrated outline.

That took a certain amount of living down.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice, each of us drinking Kingfisher.


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