My Lucky Number

When I was a little girl, I was very proud that my Dad was a Policeman.
Policemen were important people.
They kept the world in order.
Sometimes my father wore white gloves and directed the traffic.
He always knew the way, and knew First Aid.
He had a big black cloak with lion-faces at the neck, and a helmet, and a truncheon.
I was proud when he came to the school gate or to parties to take me home (this only happened twice that I can remember!)

This is a picture of my Dad in costume for a Police Anniversary!

Every year at Christmas-time there was a Police Party, for children who had a policeman for a father.
My brother and I looked forward to this for weeks,as it was the best party ever.
It was always held in The Royal Pavilion,a truly wonderful Palace built in Oriental style, with domes and minarets and pillars in abundance.

The interior is richly decorated in a chinese fashion; there are wall-paintings and life-sized porcelain figures, golden chandeliers, bamboo furnishings and staircases, gilded palm-trees, enormous jars, and lively golden serpents and dragons.

The activities - games, and competitions, musical chairs, and so on - were in the Music Room, one of the most richly decorated rooms in the Palace.
The floor was covered with a sort of canvas to protect the precious carpet from the inevitable accidental trauma involved when a large crowd of happy children made the most of the Party of the Year.

In its time the Royal Pavilion was used to entertain many royal guests...

The food at the party was especially good.

Long tables,set out in one of the corridors, were spread with every kind of delicacy; thinly sliced and buttered currant bread, jellies and trifles, creamy cakes, sausage rolls,all kinds of sandwiches.
And there were presents and prizes too!
Each child had a numbered ticket, and set out in long glass-topped display cases were numbered gifts, which the lucky children would take home with them.
One very,very lucky child would have a LUCKY NUMBER, and would win the extra special Lucky Number prize, which was displayed in pride of place.

There were many other ways in which this party was the best. As we arrived we had to put our coats in grown-up cloakrooms, and at the end everyone was given a dear little child-size carrier bag to take home.
Inside was a selection of goodies:a tangerine(in those days they had lots of pips!), a scarlet polished apple,and about seven grown-up chocolates.

Only one thing spoiled that party for me. There were CLOWNS!

They were loud,and big,and I feared and hated them.
They organised all the games.
One year the lucky number was MINE!
The clown came towards me, swept me up in his arms and carried me round the huge circle of chairs.
I was terrified!
I was far, far away from the ground, and he was laughing and shouting in my ear.
I closed my eyes and waited for it to end.
When he set me down, my legs were wobbly.
Everyone was clapping....

My prize was a doll, dressed in a hand-knitted woolly outfit.
She had a rosy face, eyes which opened and closed, two little white front teeth and thick eyelashes.
I did not possess a doll - I liked teddy-bears and my favourite black felt doll with fur hair, big round eyes and a red coat, whose name I may not use any more because it has been censored for the past thirty years, although I used it then, loved him dearly and slept with him every night.

Ungrateful as this must seem, I was not happy with my prize.
I disliked the stiff body and rosebud mouth of this very expensive doll.
I never played with her or gave her a name, but she was photographed with me as a trophy several times.

I have been to the Royal Pavilion several times as an adult.
I still admire the wonderful detail of this amazing building.

The gardens have been replanted with shrubs and flowers of the period, and the Dining-room & Kitchen are recreated in every detail.
I could never enter the Music Room, now with restored carpeting, without remembering the excitement we felt every year as the Police Party approached, and the pleasure we took in our miniature carrier-bags with those wonderful chocolates, so grown-up and perfectly wrapped in silver and gold.

The Pavilion has a very interesting history, and I have prepared an article (with pictures!) to tell you about it later....

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