"Welcome to London"

London England is a very popular destination for Canadian travelers. It is so wonderfully rich in history and tradition. Westminster Abbey for instance goes back almost to the beginning of our history books, in excess of a thousand years.

The Tower of London is infamous in the pages of the past. Many a person lost their heads at the Tower of London, heads that were then displayed on stakes at either end of the Tower Bridge. As it turned out, Tower Bridge was to play a very important role in my history as well. It may well have been my gravestone.

A very good friend of mine, Ray Eckford who worked for years with me at Radio station CFMO FM in Ottawa Canada had come with me on this my first trip to London as my assistant and companion. I always had someone with me on every assignment. After checking into a charming little hotel just off Trafalgar Square, we naturally took off to explore the city.

Big Ben

Because out hotel was just around the corner from Trafalgar Square it placed us in a very convenient position to walk to a goodly number of London's most popular attractions. Admiralty Arch and Canada House were closest. Buckingham Palace was just down a broad avenue beside what I believe was St James Park.

Eventually we found our way to Tower Bridge over the Thames. Ray and the driver I had hired for the day dropped me off in the middle of the bridge to take pictures and went off to park the car.

No sooner had I stepped out of the car than my photographer's eye caught site of the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored just beyond what was to me, the far side of the bridge. She was a beautiful and stately sight and I knew I just had to have some great shots of this world famous ship.

In my eagerness, I made the same mistake made by many North Americans on a first visit to London. I looked the wrong way before crossing the street or in this case, the bridge. I had completely forgotten that to us, Londoners drive on the wrong side of the road. My oversight was a costly one in many ways.

I had no sooner stepped off the curb than I felt one hell of a crash then the lights went out. When I finally came to about fifteen minutes later, I was surrounded by London Bobbies, men in white uniforms, a bevy of tourists and they were all asking me questions at the same time. I was laying on my back looking up at the people and the sky beyond wondering what the hell had happened.

Being a photographer, the first thing I wanted to know was " where are all my cameras?" I was told that the impact had tossed my bag and all my equipment over the side of the Tower Bridge and into the Thames narrowly missing a tour boat below. The bag floated for a few seconds then sank to the river's muddy bottom to be lost for all time.

The camera that had been around my neck lay in pieces all over the bridge. The impact had been so great that the very strong webbed strap around my neck had snapped like a piece of string. It seemed that everyone including Ray and my driver who had just come upon the scene expected me to be dead or at least close to it.

Since I was not dead, the ambulance attendants became very concerned that I may not be able to walk to the ambulance. As I struggled to regain my composure I heard them say " all we want you to do laddie buck is for you to get up and walk or crawl if you have to the ambulance." It was very easy to see that they were not at all happy at the prospect of having to carry me. To their great delight, I managed to stand and walk over to and get into the ambulance on my own steam then they proceeded to prepare me for the trip to the hospital.

Guy's Hospital was a real treat. I was placed on a gurney with my head sticking off one end, my feet off the other and one great big arm off each side. "don't you have any big people in England" I asked. As a nurse passed by me in the hall she took one look and said " OHHHHH MY GAWD." I felt insulted.

The doctor told me that if I had not been so fat, the meeting I had with the rather large Lorry, which is what they call big trucks in London, would have broken every bone in my body. As it was, I had turned into one gigantic walking bruise and the doctor asked "How is the lorry?"

When I was finally released, I was wearing only half a shirt, all that remained from the accident. I looked as though I had just lost a fight with a group of angry tigers. I was a mass of black and blue shades and all of them clearly visable.

When I walked into the hotel lobby I was certainly the object of most interest. I just smiled and said " I insulted a lorry on Tower Bridge and it took exception to my rudeness and the lorry won."

Moral of the story is when in England remember to look right instead of left before you try to cross the road if you want to live to tell the story.

Westminster
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Tower of London
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Britannia
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London Bridge
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Big Ben
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