Of Serpentine and Hyde Park


I visited two cities where you can find a Hyde Park. One is in Sydney in Australia and is situated near the City centre. It has a stream called a Tank stream and its existence no doubt decided Captain Phillips, who commanded the First Fleet in 1788, to stop right there and create a settlement. The park itself is joined by the Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens which forms an area of “green” all the way to Sydney Cove. You will not find the Tank stream anymore as it is incarcerated in a pipe and sunk below the surface.


The fate of another stream – that of the London’s river and a lake named The Serpentine in Hyde Park- is a much more cheerful one. I was invited by my friends to have dinner at the restaurant there near a lake. The dining was of excellent quality and my friends pointed to a table next to ours with a rather famous and well-known politician, non-other than Lord Hailsham. I felt quite out of place, but undaunted, like Eliza’s father – Mr Doolittle.


When we finished our dinner and were ready to leave, we were approached by the Maître d’, who, ever so politely asked us to stay a while longer whilst certain things were being attended to and – would we take a seat in the waiting area. We started to get a bit worried as this was a time of problems with an Irish terrorist organisation and the Troubles played havoc with the lives of ordinary Englishmen. Sometime earlier there was an attack in Hyde Park on the Royal Cavalry and several servicemen were killed. I also recall that on a previous visit to London, whilst waiting for the bus at the Central Bus Station, we could detect some unease amongst the people. There was anxiety about, no doubt because of these terrorist activities.


In the meantime, the problems at the restaurant were solved and we were told we could leave, but we wanted some explanation about the delay. The prominent guest, Lord Hailsham, who was the Lord Chancellor, was also the second highest United Kingdom Cabinet member. The restaurant, situated in or on the edge of Hyde Park, was surrounded by lamp posts, and shortly before our departure a briefcase was observed to be resting against a lamp post. The management of the restaurant called for the assistance of the military to make sure that no explosives were present. They declared that all was clear and A OK.

That visit took Place in the late 1970’s


The Serpentine was greatly enlarged by water from the mighty Thames and was used for events of the 2012 London Olympics.


 Lord Hailsham, who renounced his peerage, so that he might sit in the House of Commons, did a backflip – returned to the House of Lords – and we returned to Australia.