Well, here we go.
My Hungerford Bridge 'strolls' had various starting and finishing points over the years.
As a very young (and certainly not 'legally' in certain of the premises cited) person, up to an adult person, through single/married/widowed epoques.
I will start with those walks as a young person, around 14/15 years of age, recently arrived in the Capital from N. England, and with the accent of his country of origin still very strongly resounding!! For this reason, a preview is necessary, so that you may understand easier, the circumstances at the beginning.
My parents, and therefore I, had just moved down from the North of England, after the first few years in Scotland, to the Nations' capital, London.
My father, being a Minister of Religion at the time, was very occupied with his 'flock', and my mother, being a minister's wife, was interested in the minister, and his future!
Now this could have led to a rather boring existence for yours truly, but being relatively precoce and advanced, for my 13/14 years of age, I had other ideas.
I had the advantage, also, to have extremely naive parents, and when one of the neighbours (having had recourse to the spiritual/mental counselling of my father at a difficult period of his life) decided to interest himself in my education in the Capital, and accordingly asked my father's permission to invite me to various 'small events' in the Capital (like classical concerts/sports events etc) when he had occasion to obtain free entrance cards. My father was extremely pleased that this should be the case, and informed me that the neighbour "Bill" would like to occupy himself with me in my free time!
Now, I had only been in the Capital for a short period, had done nothing, gone nowhere, so I was only too pleased at this offer.
Being, as I say, relatively 'aware', it did not take me long to figure out that neighbour 'Bill' was not on the same 'wavelength' as most people.
This did not bother me terribly, and being at an impressionable age, I found it quite novel, amusing and interesting. Bill was unmarried, and was in his late 40's. An ex-professional soldier (Sergeant-major at the end) and lived next door to us, with his mother and his older sister.
Bill was not - I repeat - not, homosexual as such. He was not at ease in the company of females, and preferred the company of males, but was frightened what people may say (it was, after all, the end of the 50's/start of the 60's. He preferred therefore to have my company, knowing that I was just as much on my own as he was - if for different reasons - and he could, and did, introduce me as his nephew.
None of all this disturbed me, and absolutely nothing at all happened between myself and Bill, except that I found eventually a profound respect for this very unhappy person, who occupied himself with me and my life to an extent that not even many fathers would go to, and my father, don't forget, was in God's service, and had a flock to watch over!!
Bill became a football referee when the school team had need of one, became a cricket umpire if needs be, explained rules of athletics, tried to beat me at Tennis, took me to watch the various events which happened where he worked (he was a professional "tea-taster" for the Co-operative society in the Eastend of London, which pleased my mother, who had the right to regular FREE supplies of exceptionally good teas), and generally replaced a father, and a best friend.
It is important that the reader understands our relationship, for otherwise one could simply say "old man looking for young boy" which would not be untrue, but would be incorrect.
I finally had a great deal of respect for Bill, and took my future wife to meet him before I officially took her to meet my parents!!
I regret enormously not having kept in touch with Bill after leaving the Capital for the British Army duties, but I always recall these episodes with fondness, and certainly Part 1 is dedicated to Bill!
Only much later did they all come back into my mind, and I realised that they were really a sort of time-witness, of a time when life was easier, better, less complicated, despite the problems which existed.
Coming up - "Have you ever walked Hungerford Bridge" Part 1.
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