Kindertransport

Crossing Liverpool Street station concourse to the ticket office I noticed a girl in a red dress, her shoes on the floor at her feet, clutch bag on the Kindertransport memorial. She was staring post-muntedly in the direction of the Bishopsgate exit, echoing the girl statue in the memorial staring across at platform six.

Two women in their sixties walked towards the memorial. They had greying finger-primped hair and were wearing virtually identical blue anoraks, woolen trousers and hiking boots.

‘We’ll just wait for her to go from in front of it, actually,’ one of them said. ‘You’ll have noticed that her dress is dyed? The filigree work hasn’t got any light or shade to its colour.’

They walked exactly parallel with each other in the direction of the Barbican.

A few minutes later a boy hurried up to the girl in the red dress. Out of breath he opened a carrier bag and took out brown knee socks, black calf-boots and light-grey crocheted cardigan.

‘Not this one, obviously,’ the girl said, huffily; but she put on the poncho, socks and boots and shoved her evening shoes into the carrier bag, which she handed to the boy before walking off. He looked irrelevantly into the bag, then followed her.

The two women came back. Again exactly parallel they stood together at the memorial, the one who had commented on the girl’s dress being dyed directly in front of the inscription, the other to one side. They read about the ten thousand Jewish children fleeing unaccompanied in 1938 and 1938 from Germany on trains, eventually arriving in Liverpool Street to be taken in by foster families.

‘This was how mum was saved,’ said the only one to have spoken. ‘She never saw any of her real family alive again. Hardly any of the kids did.’

She nodded briskly at the inscription, then looked up at the little girl statue.

‘Oh…’ she said, and reached up to the front of the girl’s jacket, gently tweaking the bronze it as if to smooth away a crease.

Then they walked away, still exactly parallel, paces matching, except closer together now.

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