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Drawing of notebook and pen

7 November 2017: Noticing thingsA 1940s signal box

I went up to London today to meet the “Go for It Crowd”, the ex-colleagues I join for lunch twice a year.

My wife says I don”t notice things. There is a lot of truth in that but I did notice a couple of things today.

The first thing I noticed occurred to me when I got up to the London-bound platform at our local station and realised I had not seen anyone else wearing a poppy. When I was growing up in North London in the 1950s it would have been unthinkable for anyone not to be wearing a poppy at this time of year. On the 11th November just before 11 am my mother would call me in from playing in the street to observe the two minutes’ silence and the traffic would come to a halt.

I decided to start counting the number of people I passed wearing poppies. I travelled up to London on the train, went by Underground to Oxford Circus and then walked west along Oxford Street, going into some department stores on the way because I wanted to buy some new trousers. It took me two hours before my count of people wearing poppies reached double figures. A lot of people at the Savile Club, where we had lunch, were wearing poppies but apart from them the number I saw was only 36 for the entire day.

My visits to the department stores proved something to me. You can’t get men’s casual trousers in green these days. I did see one pair that would have been suitable but they cost £110, which was more than I was thinking of paying. I guess green is out of fashion for men.

There was one other thing I noticed while standing on that platform this morning. That was the dilapidated state of the old signal box above the platform opposite, which was looking old when I started commuting to London from here 45 years ago. (See the photograph.) It must have been taken out of use sometime in the second half of the last century. I wonder whether it has not yet been taken down because it is listed.