Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sunday Jubilee

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

It was a really happy day.

Very early, I went up to see the mare. She raised her head, whinnied, and cantered from the farthest corner of the field, swirled to a halt in front of me, raising a dramatic cloud of dust, ducked her head, and whickered. She has never done that before. She usually waits, regally, as if she is the Queen herself, for me to come to her. I felt as if she had given me a huge present, and showered her with love and carrots, both of which she seemed to find eminently acceptable.

I did two thousand words.

Then I thought, bugger it, I’m supposed to be working all afternoon, but the Diamond Jubilee does not come along every day, so I went up to my mother and the Lovely Stepfather, and we watched some of the dear old BBC coverage. I have been so cut off from the world in my deadline fever, that the idea of a royal regatta existed only very faintly on the far edge of my consciousness. But oh, oh the boats. The whole Thames was filled with them, everything from dour old working Yorkshire coal boats (the captain of that was my favourite; ‘Here’s one for the North,’ he said, grinning all over his face) to Edwardian pleasure cruisers. There were proper Naval vessels and narrow boats and lovely Victorian rowing skiffs. There were Olympic rowers and, perhaps the thing that amazed me most of all, Venetian gondoliers.

‘Someone went and got VENETIANS,’ I yelled at my mother.

The Queen looked awfully happy, and the banks were lined with Ordinary Decent Britons, yelling and whooping and giving three cheers.

On paper, Republicanism makes perfect philosophical sense; the hereditary principle is, on the face of it, absurd. But on a day like today, it just feels a little bit snobbish and curmudgeonly. There were crowds of people, having a perfectly lovely time, in the gloomy summer weather, and I defy anyone to shake a reproving finger at that.

At four, vaguely aware that there was something going on on our village green (a very rare thing in Scotland; it was laid out on an English model by some old laird who had been brought up in the south) I wandered down with the Pigeon. And there was the village, dancing. They were doing a mass strip the willow, to much hilarity. Then there was three cheers for Her Majesty, and a rendition of God Save the Queen. It was oddly touching. Balmoral is not away, and half our shops have By Royal Appointment signs above their doors; here on Deeside the Royal Family feel like locals.

I loved the whole thing. The older I get, the more I appreciate a bit of good old British pomp. I even rather love the fact that, in London, it was raining. Sunshine would be far too vulgar and faintly European. We are bred to bad weather. On the radio, some onlookers were being interviewed. ‘Is the weather dampening your spirits?’ asked the presenter. ‘Oh, no,’ they said, and with marvellous non-sequitur, ‘You see, we are from Norfolk.’

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. It was the Derby. He adored the Derby. He always went, looking very smart in his shiny black top hat. I was fired with the excitement of the great race, and it did turn out to be a great race, where a new champion was born, and a nineteen-year-old Irish boy called Joseph O’Conner made history, riding his father’s horse Camelot to victory. No father and son combination has ever won the Derby in its 230 year history. I shouted my head off, and missed my own father so much I could hardly breathe.

In the morning, rather madly, I had told the mare the story of how her famous grandfather won the Derby. She listened politely. I wished, suddenly, violently, that my dad could have been there to see her, in all her aristocratic beauty, with her outrageous bloodlines. I cried for him, astonished at how acute and fresh the sorrow still can be, over a year after his death.

So, all human life has been here, in the last 36 hours. The memory of my dad, the sweetness of the living family, the joy of my horse, the best racing in the world, every kind of boat on the dirty old Thames, the village out in its pomp, the celebration of our own dear Queen. And I did over four thousand words, and am closing in on the end of the book. Not bad, really.

 

Today’s pictures.

The village green celebrating the Jubilee:

3 June 1

3 June 2

3 June 3

3 June 4

3 June 5

3 June 6

3 June 7

3 June 8 

My lovely Red, bowing her beautiful head:

3 June 13

The Pigeon in her special Jubilee lead:

3 June 10

3 June 11

3 June 12

She really does look rather queenly herself.

The hill, rather blurry today:

3 June 15

What I especially liked about the celebration today is that it was all so tremendously British. I’m not sure exactly why, and I’m not sure exactly why that gives me pleasure, but it does.

It was the best of British, and I wave my own little metaphorical flag.

20 comments:

  1. Just catching up on the last few days...the briefs have been overtaking all normal life recently... I just wast to say you are fascinating and brilliant. That is all. Amanda

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    1. Amanda - you are an absolute jewel of a Dear Reader. Your words made me smile so much. Thank you.

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  2. It is great to see you're back online. Wonderful that you've had such a fantastic day! Here's hoping your head stays above water, but know if you start to sink you can grab onto a "dear reader" who's probably floating nearby!

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    1. Vivian - how astute you are. I am paddling like MAD.

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  3. Oh, you are back! So delighted you are amongst us again, and much sooner than some of us may have feared we might have to wait. Delighted you enjoyed today and y'day at the Derby. I like a spot of OTT pageantry, but nothing NOTHING today, or (I expect, all week) will ever the match the visceral thrill of all thosed massed pipes skirling around the corner of the Westminster Abbey after the Queen Mum's funeral service.

    That was just summat else...

    If Scotland votes YES to independence in 2014 (which is by no means certain) and they ever declare a republic, and reject a shared monarchy, what will happen to Balmoral then, I wonder?

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    1. Goldenoldenlady - oh, I love the skirling pipes too.

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  4. Tania: So glad you enjoyed today and that you are back for me to enjoy in the mornings.

    One of the boats on the Thames was a New Zealand Maori Waka which was built by a man from the north where we used to live. I believe it is now based in Holland.

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    1. Susan - you are so kind. And I love that boat fact.

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  5. I am glad to see you back here, glad to hear of your lovely day and agree the rain was somewhat fitting.

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    1. Siobhan - lovely comment; thank you.

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  6. I hope you also caught some of the coverage of this event, recorded last week, I believe, and shown on ITV1 here in England this evening. Did STV show it? If not, catch it on ITV Player...

    All The Queen's Horses - A Diamond Jublilee Special
    Sunday 3rd June 6:30pm Duration: 97 minutes

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    1. Goldenoldenlady - did see the Queen's Horses. Adored it, esp the magical Frenchman.

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  7. Just wanted to say how nice it is to see you're back, and how much lovely it was to read about your enjoyment of the Jubilee festivities. Really wish I could watch "All the Queen's Horses", but instead will enjoy reading about your lovely mare instead.

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    1. Ladyfarrier - oh, what a kind thing to say; thank you.

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  8. Glad you're back. Oh, my, the Pigeon is glorious in her red lead. Just incandescent.

    What an exciting Derby. There for a second, as Astrology led for so long, I did think that you'd been clairvoyant and stolen the race. But what a colt Camelot is. (As good as Frankel is, I have to confess that I can't really get on his bandwagon until he can work his magic at a mile and a half, as Camelot has.) Will be an interesting summer season.

    Also glad you are closing in on your deadline. Last time, you finished 36 hours (wasn't it?) early. May that happen again.

    Bird

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    1. Bird - did have a huge shout for Astrology. I had him each way, so the lovely fella repaid me in spades. Funnily enough, although I see your point, I rather love the purity of the mile, especially the straight mile. But it really is horses for courses, literally and metaphorically.

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  9. So glad you're back.

    And I fully agree with the British Stoicism comments.

    And I am delighted that it's my own adopted county that provided that wonderful story.

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    1. Cassie - I cheer for the marvellous Norfolk people!

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  10. Dear Tania,

    I hope you are never other than astonished by the occasional wild stab of pain at the loss of a beloved parent. I still have very many of my mother's cookery books (she was in the latter part of her working life a trained chef, a professional cook, and she died suddenly aged 66 when she only was very recently retired, and I - her youngest child - was a mere 25 years old).

    Even now, thirty years later, when I turn a page and find a little specimen of her hand-written marginalia, I can be caught all unawares, my breath catches, and tears start in my eyes.

    I'd feel less of a daughter if they did not.

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    1. Goldenoldenlady - very lovely and wise; thank you.

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