22nd June, 1897
London was jubilant; triumphant; red, white and blue. Bunting spun above and flapped in arches, on bridges. Many thousands lined the streets with parasols passing tea, tobacco, food plates given by the Palace. Every so often he heard eager shouts of new marvels. Rule Britannia, God save Victoria. Ignacz breathed in the energy of a city feverous with joy. Every sup from the hot tin mug rejuvenated, bathed his insides with promise. It was as if he was experiencing again the excitement of Hungary’s millennial celebrations of two years before.
At 11:15, cannons: a Royal thunder removed clouds and then brought sun. Bobbies did keep in an animated crowd. Then the first clap of horse’s hooves. There were Bengal lancers and riders with trumpets and pipes. A guard of furred heads and metal helmets, gold sashes and silver chains, marched animals with strong thighs, coats of status. Passing in dignified order but a few giddies; spring steps; everyone bounced. The guard carried banners on staffs. Then Victoria, in black, behind glass: they called three cheers for her. The clapping was constant. Accordion carriages: open top with related princesses in shoulder padded white dress; men with top hats and fitted coats on top, big wheels ploughing.
Ignacz’s sparkling eyes and mercurial way shone in the light. He spoke Yiddish with East End Jews, German with a holidaying couple, marvelled at her flamboyant hat and floral bunches. He spoke English with an electrician who’d worked on the City and South tube line, and learned Cockney from an old ex-cleaner of the cesspits. He met a clergyman and a man from Salisbury’s Unionist government. Every one of these people felt listened to. He charmed with his stories of trips to South America, his charisma, his knowledge of art and trade. Ignacz was high on Jubilee Day, right there in the centre of the most powerful nation on Earth.
The sun set and the stocky black haired boy made for the East End. The revelry continued at pubs and bonfires. He wasn’t particularly late, yet the Reverend was not pleased to see him.
Image attribution: Daily Mail
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