Maddie, Sydney Central Station 1920, the journalists

There were policemen everywhere around the station, more of them even than newspapermen with their big cyclops cameras, their wide-brimmed hats behind. I had watched those newspapermen enviously for some moments when I’d first arrived, daring to long to be among them, to take up my own notebook and pencil and write what I was seeing. At that moment, they had nothing to do but fiddle with their equipment and bother up the constabulary, but soon they would have a prince to write about, a bona fide prince to share with the world. Imagine that!

It was another policeman who read my letter of appointment, delivered the day before to Bea’s house by a servant in full livery—livery a term I learned from my mother after the liveried servant left, Bert my brother asking why a servant would wear his liver not his heart on his sleeve, the rest of us erupting into fits followed by a biology lesson from Bea’s husband Reg, an architect and apparent polymath.

The second policeman directed me to the platform; Platform H.R.H., as it had been named for the occasion. The royal train was waiting in earnest, porters and guards running about, busy as busy bees. You knew the train because the carriages were painted light blue and ivory rather than the plain brown of the trains we got about in. It was all very grand. The pigeons above us cooed more warmly and fluttered more meaningfully than they might above any other train. The steam and smoke of a station were more like a gentle mist of morning. The smells—coaldust and more universal dust—were more pleasant.

You see, they really should have had me writing about it!

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