After our Vietnamese lunch the other day, the Lovely Son asked, somewhat surprisingly, if we could have a look inside St Nicholas' Cathedral nearby. There was a service in progress, with someone in everyday dress speaking from the pulpit, so we didn't go in, but looked instead at the statue of Queen Victoria outside.
Made of bronze and red granite, or pink marble, depending on which source material you choose to consult, and erected after her death, it shows a rather cross and tired-looking elderly Queen, perhaps despairing of the relentless traffic that now roars day and night through this part of the city.
There was a time, however, when men in caps could stroll nonchalantly past their late monarch without fear of being flattened by an omnibus or squashed between competing hackney carriages.
Sweet little faces appear at intervals around the base of the statue. They choose not to look up, and those facing the Bigg Market need not observe and be scandalised by the (extremely) drunken revelries that take place there each weekend. Euphemistically described as a 'lively' area, it is packed with pubs, clubs and fast food places, and mobs of determined drinkers, the girls scantily-clad even in the depths of winter. Legend has it that there are bouncers on the doors of the curry houses.
Every local news item concerning extreme drunkenness seems to include footage of the Bigg Market at chucking-out time; I must remember to ask the Lovely Son some time if and when he was last there on a night out. He is now old enough to draw in his chin and in an outraged tone deny ever having been anywhere near the place.