Many years ago, back through the mists of time, the odd Corby Boy’s School trip would hit the agenda of my non-existent school curriculum. It’s probably unkind to suggest that teaches in the 60’s had no real direction, it just seemed that way to those of us, aged twelve, who were being taught: or not, as the case may be. Anyway, one such trip was the annual jaunt down the motorway, including the obligatory ‘comfort’ break, on a smelly diesel coach filled with my contemporaries all headed for the legendary Wembley Empire Stadium. Those coaches were a real treat. I always remember the ashtrays that sat between the two seats in front of one that would still give off the odious stench from a previous night’s spree to somewhere: indeed, our coach driver would have been allowed to smoke en route. Mind you, at least he wouldn’t be distracted by a sat-nav or mobile phone. We were on our way to watch the schoolboy international football match between England and West Germany (as it was then) though the programme and the tickets simply stated ‘Germany’. This was an event held each year by the English School’s Football association, and I loved every minute of it.
The one I remember most though was our trip on 27th April 1968: not so much for the football, but for the memory of our loo stop in St. Albans. You see, it wasn’t so much of a ‘short break’ but more of a visiting opportunity, as several of us were shown around the magnificent interior – and exterior- of the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Albans. What a day I must have had. My love of watching international football mixed with another passion of mine: British history. Today, whenever I see the Abbey in the distance I’m not only reminded of its grandeur and significance but also of my own amazement at the skills required to put the whole thing together on what is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. See also An Englishman in Rome