John Sheen Talk

It was a pleasure to welcome John Sheen for his third and final talk.

This talk was entitled ‘Christmas Crackers’ and was divided into twelve separate items representing the twelve days of Christmas.

We enjoyed a selection of poems, prose, a joke, a mini quiz and a very funny recipe for a Christmas cake. His version of Cinderella called Pinderella was one of the funniest we’d heard and it was lovely to hear everyone laughing so much. There was even audience participation – ‘Oh yes there was’!

Another funny item was the parody on the twelve days of Christmas closely followed by ‘what to do with sprouts if you don’t want to eat them’.

While all the items were interesting and entertaining some were of particular note. John read an excerpt from Dylan Thomas’ ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ as only a Welshman can, as well as a John Betjeman poem simply called ‘Christmas’. He also read a little known piece by Richard Burton called ‘Radicalism on Christmas Eve’.

It was indeed a memorable evening and we were left with that lovely feeling that only shared prose and poetry can bring. It was a shame it had to end.

Our next speaker was also someone who had addressed the group previously and on this occasion Rosemary Scadden was talking about ‘Hidden London’.

Rosemary began her talk by quoting Dr Johnson – ‘He who tires of London tires of life’.

Her memories of London began on visits to London in 1947 when many bomb sites were still in evidence and she remembers being told not to stare at Indian ladies. Other early trips to London were for the Festival of Britain and to see the decorations for the Coronation in 1953.

Rosemary was a student in London and so became very familiar with Central London. She suggested that a good place to start any tour of London would be The Monument which is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. Other places which might be of interest include The Bank of England which has a museum which is free and open to the public, the Mansion House which opens every Tuesday and the Roman amphitheatre in the basement of the Guildhall.

Rosemary then went on to tell us about some of the more unusual memorials there are such as the Firemen’s memorial near St Paul’s. Also near St Paul’s is St Benet’s Church which was designed by Christopher Wren and escaped the bombs in the war. This church was given to Wales by Queen Victoria. Also in the same area is Postman’s Park which houses The Watts Memorial to Heroic Self- Sacrifice. Decorating the walls are Doulton tablets commemorating acts of bravery. This park is popular as it has plenty of shady areas as well as seating so this could be a good place to take a break on a tour of London.

Taking one of the many walking tours that are now available is a very good way to find some of these places and discover more of hidden London. I am sure that those of us who plan to go to London on the coach trip organised by the library might have been inspired by some of the unusual places Rosemary spoke about and can go in search of other hidden London gems.