Saw English Primroses Over His Currant Buns (Aboard the Golden Arrow)
Published 8 May 1956

ABOARD THE GOLDEN ARROW Over my English currant buns I saw the primroses, as the Golden Arrow hustled toward London. I was on the swankiest train that runs between Paris and London, on the combined Fleche D'Or and the Golden Arrow, with the liner Maid of Orleans providing the link between Calais and Dover.
French have an interesting way of beguiling the hours. Scarcely has the train pulled out of Paris Nord at 12.25 p.m. when your French steward is trying to pour you an aperitif. Then you may say you will take the lunch. For more than two hours the feast keeps going, and you always wonder what's next. The omelctte chases the hors d'oeuvres, and then comes the steak. Following that there is a choice of cheese, and just when you think that is the end, on comes cakes and ices. This in turn is followed by coffee, and even after that arrive the liquors. It goes without saying that by the time you have paid the check, you are as good as at Calais.
A Sad Note
But in the midst of this merry journey, there was a sad note. For there row after row, near Amiens, were the Canadian war graves. One mentally, took off one's hat reverently for the boys you remember away back In 1914-1918, as the French train roared a mile a minute toward tidewater, Then the houses of Calais, and next thing you. knew there ws the sea.
Two famous Marys used this port. Mary Queen of Scots, Dauphin's wife. Queen and Dowager Queen, all In a short while, felt she had run out of romance In France and loft Calais for Scotland. Then, Mary I, for all her misguided patriotism, lost Calais, the last hold England had in France, and asserted that when she died, the word "Calais' would be written across her heart just the same, England never got it back.
The Maid of Orleans at 21 knots made the white cliffs of Dover under an hour, the dirty white shore line of wartime's Hell Corner emerging from over a choppy sea and a foggy sky only a minute or so before we landed.
Customs was a cinch. Gone now were the baggy French porter and in their stead were the placid English sailor. Aboard the Golden Arrow, the waiters served tea and not coffee; people ordered beer instead of wine. Then the primroses appeared outsid the window This was England all rignt. Here the land of which the poet said. "O to be in England, now that April's here."

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Updated 26 May 2019