On Thursday 6th May 2010 Malcolm and Diane Smith joined a party visiting the Royal Chelsea Hospital, London.
Malcolm writes :
We met up at Harris’s coach yard and set out for London at 07:30 hours, a bit of a hold up on the M40 with sheep on the motorway, however we arrived at the Chelsea Hospital just a few minutes late. We were met by our guide named Tom, a real character. He gave us a brief history of the Hospital and the situation of any one wanting to retire there. He explained that they had a very philosophical approach to death, as that was the reason that they were all in there, somewhere to go to die. He explained that a typical situation would be, ah! old Jim passed away in the night, oh! really, who is going to get his television set?
Tom pointed out the morgue and mentioned that the brewery was right next door. Our first stop was the dining room, the tables were beautifully laid up with candelabra on each table and eight settings per table, on each table every morning a card with eight spaces on it was left for the residents to mark what meals they would like from the menu that day. Then at the tables a waitress would bring the appropriate meal to each resident and a conversation like this would follow, ” Here you are Charlie you ordered steak and kidney pie” No I didn’t, yes you did it’s on the card, somebody else must have filled it in for me, I don’t like steak and kidney pie. Oh! sorry Charlie I will put it right, she would then talk to somebody else, then present Charlie with his steak and kidney pie and say our mistake it would seem that you did not order that last meal, you ordered steak and kidney pie, thank you would say Charlie I knew I was right!
We were given quite and extensive tour of the hospital and finished up in the Chapel. It turned out that the chapel is the parish church of the local area and every Sunday Lady Thatcher attends the service there. The hospital has its own cemetery which had not been used for about a hundred and fifty years until Dennis Thatcher was buried there, and it would seem that Lady Thatcher has her spot booked next to her husband.
After the tour we then went next door to the National Army Museum, the only was I can describe this is fantastic, even the ladies enjoyed it. We had a cooked lunch in there and were then given a lecture by a young lady on the evolution of infantry weapons, from the long bow to the present day rifle used by our infantry, with decommissioned weapons for us to handle and play with, and this young lady really knew her stuff. She answered all of the questions put to her and made the whole thing most interesting. I was amazed to find out she had never served in the armed services.
We then set off for home and arrived at our house in Halesowen at 20:00 hours; a good day was had be all.