For this story, the word ‘Kingston’ from my last story, was the memory trigger, and Bentall’s in particular.
Summer 1962, I was, and still am a shy person. Shy people will know how harrowing this story would have been for them in the same situation.
I was thirty, my wife Ann and I, having been married for four years, were expecting our first child in a month’s time.
For some reason, that I now find inexplicable, we decided to take my five-year-old niece, Karen for a day out in Kingston.
We found our little niece amusing, she had lots to say in the car journey to town, she was a lovely looking child and her mother Sylvia, had dressed her in a very nice pink frock.
Had we not already been expecting a child, I think that day in Kingston, would have prevented us from ever going into parenthood at all, never ever!!
For as soon as we entered the large showrooms, our angelic little niece became a tornado in a pink dress, she disappeared into racks of ladies’ dresses, this we thought was funny.
But then……… she spotted the escalators.
For some-one who had never, ever seen an escalator before, she managed to
become an expert at running up the down side and down the upside and not only that, but reversing when-ever I was anywhere near her.
Only by one of us standing at the top and the other standing at the bottom of the escalator, were we eventually able to capture her.
Keeping a firm hand on her, we thought a dinner followed by a nice pudding would keep her occupied for a little while, and then we would return home as quickly as possible.
We sat down in the restaurant, it was full of group’s of ladies, they seemed to belong to some sort of women’s club out for the day, the tables were joined together to make several long tables.
We ordered our meal and Karen was fascinated with all the pretty hats, at last she had quieted down, and her meal was soon eaten.
While Ann and I were deciding on our pudding, there was a disturbance a couple of seats along the row, the ladies’ were looking under the table.
It was like a tsunami.
Each lady jerked back as our little angel was passing under the legs—and sometimes through them. Then to surface at the end of the table with a wave, in much the same manner as our twenty-minute ordeal on the escalator.
I tried to walk casually along the table following the wave but she had learned a trick or two on the escalators and she would go into reverse.
I saw Ann looking at the menu, I could see the large open card she was holding, shaking, I could be mistaken but I think she was either laughing hysterically or was just plain hysterical.
A rather superior looking waiter managed to grab our little treasure and bring her to me.
A round of applause went through the dining room; I think the ladies’ thought it was amusing to see a mere male trying to cope with a little girl of five and then losing the battle.
On the plus side, we were escorted from the room and didn’t have to pay the bill.
P.s Karen Price Weguelin is a regular in this group.