Tomorrow is the Queen’s funeral. There will be a great deal of black and much sombre music. And probably quite a few tears. Not a day for laughter.
But the Queen was a woman who had a mischievous sense of humour, a woman who, in private and sometimes in public, loved a joke.
Remembering the Queen’s sense of fun
So today, in advance of all that sombre black, I suggest we remember her funny side. Mostly, as Sophie said last week, she kept a straight face in case someone was offended. But sometimes, just sometimes, she had a chance to let her puckish sense of fun have full rein.
Last week the Libertà Hive and several fellow authors were on a writing retreat in the north. It was a great shock, when I came down to raid the fridge for lunch on Thursday, to find four of them, very serious, sitting round the table looking at the news feed on various laptops. “It’s over,” said one. “The Queen is going.” They had heard the announcement made by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
At first, I didn’t believe it. I may even have said, “Going where?” But then someone else said, “Of course it’s been coming for a long time.” And I realised what they meant.
It was like that moment on a staircase, when you trip and think you’ve righted yourself, only then to find you’re still falling. All the way to the bottom. (I’ve done it twice.)
For me, this week has mostly been about the impact on my diary of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I don’t mean just the parties, though I admit I prepared food for two, and attended three (so far).
But there were also the logistics. The “holiday” encompassed the spring Bank Holiday, now transferred to Thursday 2nd June, through Friday to Monday or even Tuesday. Parking charges were waived on Friday and Monday but not Saturday by my local authority.
Some shops closed but, in my area of Central London, most didn’t, though some of them adjusted their hours. There were queues round the block for my local Italian ice cream purveyor every time the sun came out.
And then there was the chat. Everyone I met had something to say about the celebrations, the Queen, the royal Family, the decorations and, of course, the weather.
There was a positive rash of Union Jacks in shop windows, They were on cars and even bicycles. Strings of them cross the King’s Road. And, at the end of Royal Avenue, there was a Mini dressed as a Union Jack. My photograph shows the display in the course of construction. Continue reading →