Remember, Remember the what of November?

I know that winter is just around the corner, despite the mild weather, because I have had my first taste of runny nose, tickly cough and a desperate need of TLC. Last year the Cold Fairy visited me at least half a dozen times, so, its off to the docs for my very first flu jab -just in case the Cold Fairy tells the Flu Fairy how inviting I am!
I am going to India next week(this weather can’t last) with my old school friend Doreen: we met up again after fifty years and carried on as if we had never lost touch. We are NOT taking our respective hubbies. Neither wanted to go to India and when I said I had always wanted to go Doreen volunteered we go it alone. So we are. If we find The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel we may not be coming back.
The holiday will be filled with lots of laughs, Doreen is a hoot, lots of sightseeing & lots of reminiscing . A few years ago we met up in South East London where we were both born to visit old haunts -a trip down memory lane- Crystal Palace Park where large dinosaurs roam the grounds, commissioned in 1852 to accompany the Crystal Palace after its move from the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and unveiled in 1854, they were the first dinosaur sculptures in the world, pre-dating the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by six years. Our all girls secondary school in Forest Hill, was unrecognisable with its high steel fencing all around, was denied us as the security guard would not let us in-oh how times have changed! The guard did tell us though that whilst the original historic building was staying, the ugly high rise monstrosity built in the fifties was being demolished and re-built. We both agreed that would be a great improvement and it had nothing to do with the detentions we suffered there! We paid our respects at Hither Green Cemetery, where the children of Sandhurst Road School are buried. The disaster was an air raid on the school in Catford, South East London on Wednesday, 20 January, 1943 a mile or so from where we went to school. A German fighter-bomber dropped a 1,100 lb bomb on the school at 12.30 pm, killing 32 children and six staff and injuring another 60 people. Many were buried for hours under the rubble, and six more children died in hospital. The memorial, with names listed, is very moving and we both shed a tear or two.
My parents old house had gone to make way for modern maisonettes but our primary school was still going strong and so was the large modern church of Saint Michael and All Angels, built to replace the beautiful ancient Saint Michaels that was destroyed by a bomb in the last war. Even though I was born just after the war, I am a War Baby, or Baby Boomer, and I remember my bedroom being boarded up years after the war ended as there was no building material to go round: rationing was also still in existence so sweets were scarce.
Yes, we had a lovely day out in South East London ending up with lunch in Eltham Palace – a wonderful place to visit, but as we strolled down the streets of our past, we were very conscious of the fact that we had very special childhoods: Playing on bomb sites, maybe, but we had freedom. Plain simple food, perhaps, but we had love and laughter. We also had both our fathers returned from the war and not every child was as lucky as we were.
So, what should we remember in November? Guy Fawkes and fireworks you bet. Falling leaves lovely. However, we must never forget the men and women who gave their lives so that we can live our lives in freedom with no fear of speaking our minds, no fear of who or what we worship and no fear of where we come from.

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