I’m not sure what happened between the Diamond Jubilee and me. Somehow we failed to communicate. It’s not as if we drifted apart. We just didn’t connect in the first place.
Perhaps it’s being out of the workplace and being less focussed on the blissful goal of a public holiday or perhaps it’s being out of London. For whatever reason, the event failed to register. In the last week or so I spotted comments and photos on social media and but locally no flags appeared. Nothing pinned to lamp posts to identify potential road closures for parties. My preparations amounted to looking at the price of bunting in the supermarket. Slowly the Jubilee weekend rumbled towards us with nothing in place to mark an occasion that will not be seen again in my lifetime.
I describe myself as a Guardian reading leftie. Actually, I shouldn’t even favour the monarchy and while I can’t think of many reasons, tourism aside, to keep the it. Neither can I dislike The Queen, in fact I like most of the Royal family. I even have a top 5.
In 1977 we ate food at a trestle table down the middle of the street with our neighbours. It was a big deal. My son will have no memories of such an event. I’ve failed as a parent in the boxed marked historic events. On Saturday he went to the park. On Sunday we all went to Debenhams in the rain and returned to watch the River Pageant on the TV, a slight niggling feeling that perhaps I should have made the effort to be there. The BBC shared pictures of happy faces having parties in grim weather and overly repeated the words ‘British’ ‘spirit’ and ‘weather’. Children madly waving flags while an adult in the background wore a Prince Philip mask.
By Monday I was desperate for a slice of Jubilee and so headed to the grounds of our local royals/aristocracy. Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The Devonshire family have titles and wealth. I imagine they exchange Christmas cards with the Queen at the very least. Chatsworth had placed a 100 ft table in the garden with a red spotty paper cloth. People without a street party could recreate the experience of sitting at a trestle table and eating food (brought at the kiosk or bring your own picnic). It was nice but not very Jubilee. I admit that by now I was grasping at red, white and blue straws. It seemed that everyone else, everywhere else was at a Diamond Jubilee party.
I began to accept that for us this historic event was participation by remote control only and switched the TV on again. I wished I was a concert watching musicians I didn’t particularly like and wondered why I didn’t even know there was a ballot for tickets. Was it only advertised in the London Evening Standard? The Guardian never mentioned it. As for the picnic in Buck House – hello?? Where was that golden ticket?
Increasingly, as the weekend has progressed I have become more emotional about the whole event. Any footage of the Queen now brings a tear to my eye. I am really not sure what is wrong with me.
I began today by again browsing the internet for local tea parties and events, again being disappointed. Defeat was accepted and we spent the day by a lake looking at ducks. I did see a swan. The Crown has ownership of all mute swans. I waved. It simply glided by.
This evening Nicholas Witchell the BBC Royal Correspondence tells me the Diamond Jubilee has been celebrated (past tense). It’s over. Platinum. I must be more prepared. I bet Elton John has it in his diary.
So how was it for you?