At the age of ten my mother decided that it would be good for me to go out into the bad old world and organised a holiday for me (being the youngest of five children this was a really special treat) to that most exotic of places, London.
I was told that we would be stopping at the Camelot hotel (of course in my mind I envisaged huge turrets portcullises and a drawbridge surrounded by a moat).
When we had travelled to what seemed like the far end of the world, a staggering 350-400 miles away, I must admit to being slightly disappointed to find that this huge castle resembled a fairly large house on four floors.
At the time the country was gripped with drought (1976) and everywhere you went people were lining up to buy ice-cold cans of soft drinks at what was then a mind-numbing price of 50p per can.
One of the fondest memories I have of this particular outing was visiting Trafalgar Square and finding that the fountains were still switched on, spewing out precious water at a wasteful rate.
The only other thing I really recall with some great detail is of our visit to the London Planetarium (truly boring for a young lad of 10) and asking my mum if I could go to the loo. After pestering and whining I was allowed to, purely because I think she realised that she would get no peace until she relented.
After my reassurances that, 'I am a big boy now, I won't get lost Mum,' of course the inevitable happened and I found myself in the Madame Tussaud's area of the building.
After ducking under a red rope barrier and unable to find my way back again and being truly scared, I approached a policeman (this having been instilled in me prior to our leaving our north-eastern home in Peterlee, Co. Durham).
On telling him that I couldn't find my mum anywhere and that I was lost, I got no reply. Unfortunately, for those who may already have guessed, I had approached a wax dummy of a Police Officer.
The story turned out for the better though as my mum seemed always to have that strange homing beacon that all mothers have and found me. What transpired next was to be the most memorable occasion of the holiday with a sharp clip around the ear for wandering off and not going straight back to find her.
Stuart Wright, Peterlee, Co Durham 2001
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