My Father went to Paris

As kids we used to play a memory game which we called ‘My Grandmother went to Paris’. The idea was that each player in turn added one thing to the list of items grandmother bought in Paris. At your turn you had to give the whole list of items, so far in the correct order. If you failed you were out of the game.

My grandmother never did go to Paris but my father did and it still causes me enormous bafflement for he went in 1952. He had a wife, three young children and a mortgage. Oh! He had no income either so how on earth did he afford a trip to Paris. Later on that year my dad had earned his University degree and got a paid job. But the trip to Paris still defies my understanding more than 60 years on.

He brought me back a present – a model gendarme on point duty. Of course, I still have him.


This fellow has suffered the slings and arrows of my childhood. I’ll be polite and say his paint has worn a little thin in places.

I took a look through my dad’s Paris photio album and found he had taken a picture of the items he brought home.


Good grief! There’s enough there for the game. My father went to Paris and he bought two model gendarmes, a packet of fags, a hair brush, a couple of pens, a bottle of eau de cologne in the shape of the Eiffel  Tower, a coffee filter, a loaf of pain d’épice. Various bottles, a baguette, a bar of chocolate etc.

Now for the nerd bit. My dad went to Paris by plane and he was able to take a picture of the plane he travelled home on. It was a Vickers Viking – a sort of British copy of the American Dakota. It was operated by British European Airways and carried the name of Sir John Duckworth.


The photo was taken after the plane landed at Northolt. Northolt had 50 000 aircraft movements in 1952 which made it the busiest airport in Europe.

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