Watty quite often came to tea at the farm. As far as I can remember she lived in a flat in Kempston, which is a town bordering on Bedford. I think the flat over-looked Kempston Park and you went up some steps to the front door. Anyway, on one occasion when she came to tea we must have gone into the garden at Malting Farm (which was quite large and had a magnificent double-trunked sycamore tree in the centre of the lawn which has since been cut down due to the fact that it became unsafe, sadly. Due no doubt to decay or something.) In the garden, somewhere near the lawn, were a couple of plinths for urns. The urns presumably had been broken or something or moved elsewhere. I think one had survived and had plants in. Anyway, one of these plinthss was reasonably low and on this particular afternoon Watty decided she needed to have a rest and sat on one of the plinths. Young John, had quite a way with words and descriptions had to point out that this elderly lady looked as if she was sitting on the toilet, much to the amusement (or not, I should think!) of all and sundry! Children, as I know with having my own, have a way of coming out with things which their parents wished that they didn't. No doubt this was one such time. Another was when my mother went to a shop along the main road going into the centre of Bedford. This was to a shop which sold all manner of sewing and knitting items called I seem to remember Elsa Currah. My mother did a lot of knitting and sewing so perhaps she had gone in the shop to buy knitting wool or a dress-pattern. I doubt very much if it's still there. Anyway, the lady who either ran it or was an assistant in there had a rather unfortunate facial feature, quite a heavy moustache. Some older ladies do unfortunately have facial hair and do nothing to either hide it with make-up or even attempt to remove it. This young boy saw this and had to come out and say, in quite a loud voice which I'm sure she must have heard, something like ' Look! That lady's got a moustache!' as well as any other customers, who would have been in the shop at the time and my mother took me by the arm quite firmly and dragged me out of the shop, no doubt in a lot of embarrassment.
I've never been able to point to one particular event which got me interested in theatre. Being a farming family we didn't have any connection with theatre in any way. I remember being taken to pantomimes at various stages of my childhood. We went to pantomimes in the West End and if my memory serves to one at the County Theatre in Bedford, in Midland Road, which had been the venue of Bedford repertory theatre company up until it's demise in the late 1950's or early '60's. It later became a Mecca bingo hall and is now run by an evangelical church called the Mount Zion Church. I think this was a pantomime of 'Alice In Wonderland' and was amazingly on ice. I think I saw another pantomime based on the 'Alice' books somewhere in London which had Frankie Howard in and he seemed to play more than one character, including the Mad Hatter. Don't ask me where the theatre was. We also went to a circus, probably Bertrum Mills or Chipperfield's which was put on somewhere like Olympia. Where the Horse of the Year show would have been staged. I remember we must have gone with my grandmother Ferriman. She had a love of hats, and made of raffia, with wide brims and quite striking. These were worn on all outings including church on Sunday. On this occasion when we'd gone to London we had to use the Underground and we were standing waiting for a train to come into the station. Whenever this happens, there is nearly always quite draught as the train comes out of the tunnel and draws up to the platform. The wind caused my grandmother's hat to be blown off and it landed on the train tracks and was run over and completely destroyed by the wheels of the train! No doubt my grandmother was upset by the incident but I have no further recollection of the incident.
Watty took me to London one Christmas. I don't think my brothers came with us. We went to see 'Peter Pan' which was staged every year for decades at the Scala Theatre. I think this was in Covent Garden somewhere but is sadly no more. I was frightened apparently by the scene with the pirates and Captain Hook in and where some very loud cannons were fired and there was supposed to be lots of smoke and as I say loud explosions. I loved the fact that Peter Pan actually flew across the stage but had no idea at the time how this was achieved. I also remember that in the interval we had tea brought to us and served in the auditorium on a tray which was quite a treat. I doubt that you'd be allowed to do this today, considering all the 'Health and Safety' regulations we have to contend with now.