I walked along that bridge one day, alone, cut off, frightened, frozen, trapped.
I walked along that bridge on a late Saturday morning, on a day when the City of London becomes a ghost town, when the call of the family sucks the living daylights out of the place, but the call of the family never called on me, and as I paced the flagstones in this momentous place, I found it wasn’t momentous anymore, it was neglected, nothing, just me, an infinitesimally small amount of significance, verging on nothing, merging into nothing
And one day I saw that exact same bridge, that exact same space; the emptiness flooded back into me, it was the 1920s, and I wondered how many other people had experienced that same level of despair, at exactly that point on the bridge, on a Saturday morning, and I cried tears in unison, and those tears warmed my face.
Six months later I received confirmation of the echoes of loneliness and sadness that drifted up and down London Bridge.
To provide some context you need to know that, throughout the twentieth century the British and Australian governments, in collaboration with the Catholic Church and major British children’s charities, were effectively running a child trafficking scheme, treating vulnerable children in the UK akin to livestock, and transporting them to Australia where they were used as slave labor, and subject to appalling neglect, physical and emotional abuse. The British state were able to reduce their child care bills, and the Australians were able to populate their lands with white British stock, the Catholic institutions and Children’s Charities, were able to increase their largesse through the accommodation of these children, and the subsidies offered to them by the Australian and British states.
In the 1950s a London policeman found two boys wandering lost and alone near London Bridge. Of his account, which is featured in Margaret Humphreys’ Oranges and Sunshine he wrote:
It subsequently transpired that the boys had absconded from a children’s home in Kent. They were two boys of a family of six, three boys and three girls, whose father was a Flight Sergeant in the Royal Air Force stationed in Berlin. As you will guess the marriage had broken up and the children had been put in the care of the local authority. The lads had got as far as London Bridge Station and after crossing London Bridge and entering the City, I had found them. Their purpose in absconding was that they were are that they were on their way to Australia with a view to eventually being put to a career in family. They had mutually decided – and I can only guess their ages at about ten and six years – to run away to find their sisters to say goodbye to them before they went. I subsequently went on to have a happy and worthwhile career in the police service, reaching relatively high rank and to have five children from an extremely successful marriage, but that little incident still brings a lump to my throat. It still causes me to wonder what happened to those young boys. I can only hope they have done well and that they are still in touch with their brother and sisters. I retired some years ago and from time to time give a little talk to the Rotary Clubs, Women’s Institutes and the like. I always refer to the incident of those two lads as being the saddest moment of my police career.