Lunch With John Random And Jenny Mill In Greenwich, “The Day That Princess Diana Died”, 31 August 1997

I remember this day very clearly, although I am sure there are many details the others can add. It would be super if John and Jenny were to chime in with their recollections.

Janie and I had arranged to meet John Random (a fellow NewsRevue writer) and his partner, Jenny Mill, in the Trafalgar Tavern for lunch. I suspect that plan was hatched when we gathered at the Canal Cafe a few weeks earlier – click here.

Janie and I had planned to take public transport to the north side of the embankment on the Isle of Dogs and walk the Greenwich Foot Tunnel – I think it had recently reopened after refurbishment back then.

But while we were preparing to go out, the phone rang. It was my mum. My mum never used to ring on a Sunday morning – she would almost always wait for me to ring her.

Mum sounded distressed.

“It’s so awful, a tragedy,” mum said, through tears of anguish.

I thought something must have happened to my dad or some other close relative/friend.

“What’s happened, Mum?”, I asked. “Try to gather yourself and speak slowly.”

“What do you mean, ‘what’s happened’? You must know what’s happened. I know you don’t care much for the royal family…”

“…Mum, we’re going out shortly, we haven’t seen the papers or switched on the TV or radio this morning; just tell me what’s happened.”

Mum told me. Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed had died in a car crash overnight.

I told Janie.

Janie turned on the TV.

Time passed.

We set off for Greenwich much later than we’d intended – so the idea of using public transport and a stroll through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel went out of the window.

Plan B was to revert to the Janie norm – we got into the car and drove to Greenwich. By the time we found somewhere to park (we hadn’t thought about that bit)…eventually finding a place near the market but some way from the Trafalgar…then walked from the parking place to the Trafalgar…we were quite late.

John and Jenny were neither fazed nor surprised that we were a bit late in the circumstances.

I remember John and I bemoaning the fact that a rich seam of our topical comedy for NewsRevue had died in that car crash along with the victims of the tragedy. We also had one of those, “when, if ever, will we be able to make Princess Diana jokes again?” conversations.

We had a very good lunch and talked about much else besides the day’s news.

I recall the four of us having a bit of a stroll after lunch.

After we parted company with John and Jenny, Janie and I wandered around Greenwich market for a while, as the car was parked near there and we were in no rush to get home.

I remember buying a dozen or so CDs that afternoon, more or less doubling the size of my CD collection. I had only bought a CD player for the first time a year or so earlier. Being a reel-to-reel and records dude, I was wicked-late to CDs. I bought mostly sixties compilations that day, plus a few iconic albums; Pet Sounds (Beach Boys), Gift From A Flower To A Garden (Donovan) and The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff and others) to name but three.

I remember saying at the time (1997) that my previous visit to Greenwich was with my parents and must have been about 20 years earlier, but I was surprised and chuffed when I looked it up this morning (31 August 2017) and realised that my previous visit was exactly 20 years earlier; 31 August 1977. I have written up that mini break with my parents mostly as a photo piece – click here.

No pictures from the day that Princess Diana died, but here is one from the 1977 set. I couldn’t possibly have imagined what I’d be up to 20 years later, let alone 40 years later, when the following picture was taken.

Time Traveller. Me at the Greenwich meridian line 31 August 1977

3 thoughts on “Lunch With John Random And Jenny Mill In Greenwich, “The Day That Princess Diana Died”, 31 August 1997”

  1. John Random chimed in by e-mail with the following comments on this:

    “Thank you so much for sharing that. Of course, I do remember the day, though not in as much detail as you did or do, because I was only keeping a pocket diary at the time. I’m at work at the moment so I can’t quote from it but I don’t think there was much beyond the bare fact of us meeting. Jenny remembers it too, as I know because last week I gave her a quiz entitled It Was Twenty Years Ago Today based on those pocket diary entries from 1997. Needless to say, I had to include a Princess Diana question and she got the answer right off the bat, as well as the fact that we’d spent the day with you and Janie.

    Great photo from 1977.”

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