It’s Christmas. It’s been a hard year. What could be better than a short story to read on a cold frosty morning, to bring a smile to your lips?
It’s 1962. Marie is going to London for some last minute Christmas shopping. At the railway station she bumps into her old flame, Johnny. They are going the same way. On the train ride Marie starts remembering the good times with Johnny and she agrees to meet him for lunch at Schmidt’s, the German restaurant in Charlotte Street. But things have changed since she last saw him. Now Marie has a fiancé. But she also has a Christmas wish. Will it come true?
Follow Marie as she weaves her way along Oxford Street, through C&A, Littlewoods, and Marshall and Snelgrove, battling her emotions.
The action now takes a step to London. What did we in Chelmsford know of London in the 60s? We knew Oxford Street – it was in the C&A store there that I bought my suede coat. At last I was a real mod. I was so proud of it – it was brown, it was soft, I could swap buttons with Christine and her brown leather. I didn’t realise till later that it was wrong, the sleeves were too wide and it had an A-line shape, akin to what was then called a duster coat. It wasn’t a straight, narrow tube. But it was suede, real suede. And it came from London.
What else we knew about London (apart from Trafalgar Square where we fed the pigeons when we were small and gathered at the end of Ban the Bomb marches when we were teenagers) was that there were clubs. Christine, my best friend, and I didn’t know them personally. On Saturday evenings in Chelmsford, when the groups had finished playing at the Corn Exchange, the mod boys would mooch up to the railway station to jump on a train, or hop down to the A12 to hitch a ride to the Smoke, to go Up West, to the Flamingo or the Marquee, where they would often see the same group that had just been grooving it up in Chelmsford.
And now the two worlds will collide – in the best possible way – at the London launch of A Sense of Occasion.