April 04

The glorious Lord Wigram

I am fortunate to belong to the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly, London only because my father Maurice Cuthbert Raban was in the RAF. My dad was a Wing Commander, he flew Sunderlands, gigantic flying boats – What a hero he was. Bless dad, he’s up in heaven now with many other wonderful men and women who fought in the War in the 1940’s.

So, I was walking out of the RAF Club and I saw a truly wonderful scene, a gentleman with two walking sticks, slowly walking on the pavement. The reason why it was so magical was he was dressed in Top Hat and tails. Right then I saw a black and white Victorian scene from 100 years ago. I remembered that in the Press Association Archive there is one of my favorite pictures of an almost identical older gentleman, walking next to a horse and carriage and the gentleman in front of me looked like a mirror image of that 100 year old photograph.

(Picture comes by courtesy of the Press Association picture archives).

I had an immediate “Duncan urge” to capture this moment, however he was struggling to walk so I asked if I could help. A gentle voice said ‘Oh, you are so kind. Would you mind helping me to the roadside? I need a taxi, if you please.’

As I helped him, my mind was whirling around with thoughts like ‘Who is this gentleman? If I get him a taxi, I will miss this picture.’

So, I said ‘May I ask your age, sir?’

‘Well, my friend, I was born in 1915 – does that give you a clue?’

‘WOW!’ I said. ‘You must be 98. And may I ask you your name?’

‘Yes, I am Lord Wigram of Gloucestershire.’

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In the space of asking these questions and hailing him a taxi, I grabbed 16 frames and a magical snap as he raised his hand, just like in the Victorian times. I then opened the taxi door and helped him up into the cab.

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‘Where are you going, Lord Wigram?’

‘Oh, please tell the driver Buckingham Palace.’

‘Yes, Sir!’ I said.

‘May I ask what you are doing there, Lord Wigram?’

‘Yes, I am having tea with my old friend, the Queen of England.’

‘Crikey!’ I thought. This 30 seconds of helping an older gentleman made me feel so humble.

‘Lord Wigram, can I post you a few photographs?’

And in his ever so quiet gentile voice, he said ‘Hold on, driver. Please hold your horses. If you would send me a picture, I would be so delighted.’

‘What’s your address?’

‘Lord Wigram, Gloucestershire will do.’

How perfect was that, I thought.

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