I was visiting Covent Garden in London this week to meet up with my former employers from 1984-1988, my formative years straight from college.
We had arranged to meet for lunch and, as you might suspect, there was much reminiscing about the old days, when I was only the third employee in their small but growing educational travel company.
Michael and Sharron worked tirelessly in pursuit of their entrepreneurial dream to inspire young people to achieve more, by expanding their horizons through travel, and exposure to different cultures. Casterbridge Tours went on to be a much respected and successful business that Michael and Sharron eventually sold in 2011. This was our first opportunity to meet up in their busy, travel-filled retirement.
Having taken a day away from Just leave it with me, I was relishing the opportunity of being in central London and able to wander at a leisurely pace towards our restaurant.
A cold but bright November day, I stopped at the The Royal British Legion stand to buy my poppy pin badge, and have a chat with the Pearly Kings and Queens, who in their tradition of London working class charitable works from the 19th century, were attracting passers-by and encouraging their generosity.
As I crossed Covent Garden Plaza my attention was drawn to a wreath of red poppies placed carefully on a memorial stone that I hadn’t previously noticed.
This memorial stone, in honour of the workers in the former Covent Garden fruit and vegetable wholesale market who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars, was unveiled in July 2011.
The fact that it was so new, yet honouring those who lost their lives so long ago, brought home the meaning of the shiny poppy pin badge I was wearing. There are no records of the names of the thousand or more porters and market traders who went to war and did not come home. But they are remembered.
Without them, and so many others, the world explored by the youngsters travelling with Casterbridge Tours would have been a very different place.
Treat each day like the sunrise
Expect no less
Then you won’t be disappointed
When the sun finally sets.
James Love (2012)