There are flags all over the village but this is the biggest one. When it flaps backwards, the letters spell NOITANOROC. A confusing word for a strange day. Watch it on TV? Go eat soggy cakes in the rain outside the village hall? Swear allegiance? Announce that he is ‘Not Mine’ or something else? What to do?
They have always been there. That family. You can say they don’t matter, but if you have ever seen a real live monarch you probably remember it. I do.
1960 Something. The Queen.
Age 7 ish. They stuffed our entire school into buses, dropped us on the side of the A30 and said ‘Wave when the queen comes’. Other children had flags but I had to improvise. My friend and I made a thing out of white string, red tissue and a blue crisp packet. Maybe she didn’t see it when she finally went by. The A30 is quite fast.
It was a bit boring, but I didn’t mind waiting around.
Because I was this innocent and it seemed like the right thing to do.
1990 Something. The Queen Again.
Aged a bit more grown up. We went to London for an event so important that we even booked a hotel. This was not Cornwall. You don’t just leave your car on the side of any road. In the morning there was shock about the missing car, stress over finding the pound, horror at the bill, and deep fear of being late for the Important Event.
Racing through the city, clock ticking, hearts thudding at every red traffic light and suddenly there she was, gliding past in a nice car that had never seen the inside of a pound.
‘Look, look, it’s the queen’ we shouted. It was exciting, like an omen that the day would work out OK. It did, and somehow she got all the credit.
2000 and Something. More Queen.
Aged about the same and gloriously working at a street festival in Canada. A fun job with huge crowds and shows all over the city. The royal visit was nothing to do with the festival but she turned up and got the biggest crowd of all. That was ridiculous because she didn’t do anything.
The Rest of Life
It is not possible to un-remember those sightings. And then she was just there for all time, doing ‘Duty’ well enough and putting up with family problems like we all do. I thought I did not take much notice.
But today I am wondering what is going on.
Because the Post Office looks like this.
Why is there a bear with a flag? What did I think about the Monarchy all these decades? Quite a lot actually. They got as much attention as any good soap opera.
In 1971 I made a cake for the jubilee and decorated it with a wonky Union Jack. Did I really do that? We had a party in the village which went a bit sour, because somebody got drunk and decided to steal petrol from somebody else’s garage, so there was a row. In 1981 I celebrated the Charles and Diana wedding at a beach party. This culminated in an excited re-enactment of the whole event and I played Diana, rather well. I marked her death by drinking tea all day and watching the TV in morbid fascination. I know where I was when the queen died. They are part of my mindset. I can’t even go to the dentist without checking up on them in Hello magazine.
It is everywhere. The village hall looks like this
And people are going to gather there today and watch it all on a big screen and cheer.
I nosily watched Harry and Megan on Netflix and sided with them for a bit, ganged up on Prince Andrew like everybody else, agreed with others that Princess Anne is ‘Probably alright’ and so it went on.
You can go through life being vaguely not royalist but then there is Frankie Boyle on Channel 4 with Farewell to the Monarchy pointing out a few things about how very wrong it all is.
At the same time you can’t go in the village shop without risking a paper cut on your head.
Because the bunting is quite sharp and there is a lot of it. I start wondering how easy it would be to put a ‘Not my King’ sticker on each flag and crown. I’m not sure where you buy those stickers though.
Some of the press are trying to work out how much the crown is actually worth. They say it is hard to know because there are secrets about the amount, and worse secrets about where it all came from. It is tens of billions. A billion is a thousand million, so if want to calculate how much that is for each of us, if it was divided out, you need to be good at maths.
If you like maths you can also work out how much we each pay for his hundred million pound coronation. I tried, and got to £1,38 but then I gave up.
Who knows? Maybe I will go to the village hall this morning and see if people really are doing that thing, and see what they look like.
Meanwhile the garden is full of bluebells and I caught the chickens ripping their heads off. You learn something new every day and today’s fact is that chickens like eating bluebells.