This is the true story of a day out, up by train to London, train to a game, train back, underground train, train home. I shall be making a train journey next month, not to London as the real people in my true story did but to Portsmouth! This is the story of Jim, a friend of my dad’s, who went with a gang of chums to London and beyond one Saturday.
Is it something about the name Jim which makes men with it such characters? I had a friend JIm who I taught with who had an interesting experience with ducks… but I was reminded the other day of my dad’s friend and colleague Jim.
Jim was a very eminent scientist working at the Low Temperature Research Station in Cambridge in the 1950’s and 60’s. He was what might be called a larger than life character and there was always some tale to tell when he and Donald went out with friends.
One year, in the 50’s or 60’s, they and a group of others went up to London and then to Twickenham, Twickers, to watch the rugby; I don’t know for sure, but it was probably the Varsity match, Cambridge University vs Oxford University, but it may have been an international or a Barbars’ game (the Barbarians, as it says on their website is ‘a rugby club which brings together players from different clubs to play a few matches each year to enjoy the camaraderie of the game and play attacking, adventurous rugby without the pressure of having to win’; these would be the elite players from each club)
Having watched the game, and no doubt enjoyed a few pints, the chaps went into London for something to eat and a few more pints. Jim managed to imbibe sufficient to make him very merry indeed, and wherever he went he was always leaving his umbrella behind and someone would be dashing after them with or running back for it. On the underground the wretched umbrella poked other passenger, hooked itself round bag straps or handrails, got wedged between closed doors, got left on seats, but somehow the blokes managed to hang onto Jim and his umbrella.
And then it was time to catch the train back to Cambridge and as they got off someone had to leap back into the carriage to rescue the umbrella which had been left on a luggage rack. Outside the station they bundled Jim into a taxi and gave the driver directions, then had to flag him down again to give Jim the umbrella.
The next morning at work everyone agreed the day out to Twickers had been a great day, most enjoyable, good game, good fun, good times! Jim breezed in looking fresh as daisy and joined in the opinion that it had been a fine day out, but there was one puzzle.
“Umbrella,” he said. Surely he hadn’t left it in the taxi, surely after all the difficulty it had caused he had managed to get it home? “This umbrella, I just wonder whose it is, it seems to have come home in the taxi with me and I have no idea who it belongs to!”