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Mind the Gap! Hopes and Dreams

Tony Fenton | April 25th 2015 | Travel
The Prime Meridian (Longitude 0 degrees, 0 minutes, 0 seconds)

Greenwich : The Prime Meridian (Longitude 0 degrees, 0 minutes, 0 seconds)

Earlier this month we had a great long weekend away in London, travelling down on the Friday and staying until Saturday evening.  We revisited Greenwich Observatory where on the Prime Meridian we got engaged on April 10 2010, exactly five years previous to our visit. As it was the end of the Half Term week, there were quite a few visitors there and also a telescope had been set up to allow you to look at the sun, seeing sunspots and solar prominences.  The people running it were very knowledgeable and made our visit a little more interesting.

The hotel in Drury Lane happened to be opposite the oldest licensed pub in London, the White Hart.  That is according to their own notices and their website which cites the Old Bailey archives, that premises on the site were licensed since 1216.  Apparently legendary Dick Turpin stopped in for a pint before his appointment with the hangman’s noose.  Whether the history is correct or not, it was a good place to catch a drink and bite to eat before going out to the Palace Theatre to see The Commitments.

The show was really good and once again after going to a live show I vowed to not leave it so long before going to another one.

We also witnessed a couple of train announcements, always worth listening to!  The first was an automated one in the Virgin Train toilet which asked us not to flush sanitary towels, unpaid bills, your ex’s sweater, hopes and dreams or goldfish down the toilet.  Sound advice.

The second was an announcement from a guard on the DLR at a couple of stops on the way back from Greenwich. He asked us, when leaving the train, to ensure that we take all our belongings : briefcases, papers and all of our children – not just our favourite ones.  He also ended our trip at the terminus at Bank station with a cheery “Enjoy the weather and if it stays sunny take Monday off sick and have another three day weekend”.

Whilst at Bank station we also heard the famous “Mind the Gap” announcement.  The announcement is there of course to caution passengers when stepping on and off the train to mind the gap between the train and platform as the platform is curved at the station.

The 1968 recording was made of Oswald Lawrence who sadly died at the age of 80 in 2001.  His wife was reported to have taken some comfort in still being able to hear his voice on the “Mind the Gap” announcement at Embankment station.  But Transport for London phased the announcements out, replacing them with a computerised version.  In early 2013, Oswald’s widow managed to persuade TfL to reinstate her husband’s recording which is what we can now here once more today.

Saturday was spent wandering around Covent Garden, Regent Street and along Oxford Street, part of my old haunting ground.

Our final taste of London was at another pub.  This time, the only pub on Oxford Street – The Tottenham, for a quick drink before continuing up Tottenham Court Road back to Euston and our return train home, taking care not to flush away our hopes and dreams!

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