Lilibet and Me

Thumbnail Don Urquhart Red Sky Lenin Cast of Play Red Dawn

9 June 2022

Diary of a Corbynista

Lilibet and me.

By Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart

Our front door has a faded admonition to visitors to wear a face mask.  In the adjacent window there is a photograph of a cheery old biddy easily recognisable as Queen Elizabeth II.  I am not a monarchist but for 70 years this lady has often intruded on my consciousness.

Every Friday afternoon in the first half of 1953 my Mum and I would go from house to house in our street.  I held the tin and Mum cajoled from each neighbour a threepenny piece, when such coins were 80 to the pound.  We were collecting for the Coronation.  On June 2nd there was a street party with hats, sandwiches, cake and jelly.  That’s about all I remember.  I can’t recall seeing it on TV – we didn’t yet have a set.  My sister reminds me that a stage was constructed where she and others sang the Dickie Valentine hit:

In a golden coach, there’s a heart of gold
Driving through old London town
With the sweetest Queen the world’s ever seen
Wearing her golden crown.… 

My Mum was a monarchist and I never heard a bad word about the royals until she took sides with Princess Diana against her husband.  Adultery was always Mum’s top sin but there were plenty of others I would rather not go into.

I don’t want to call it indoctrination but the received wisdom through my school years was that the monarchy was a wonderful thing.   The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme was a big deal for many but apart from that it all seemed very remote and irrelevant. I was never one for paramilitary organisations like the Boy Scouts which reinforced support for the monarchy with the Promise:

On my honour,
I promise that I will do my best
to do my duty to God and to The Queen,
to help other people
and to keep the Scout Law.

I would have been more at home in the Girl Guides whose patriotic philosophy was summed up:

We are the Girl Guides dressed in blue,

Salute to the Captain

Bow to the Queen

Show our knickers to the football team.

Sadly I failed the medical.

My wife was a Girl Guide and is a rabid monarchist.  The thing took flight for the Silver Jubilee to which she and her sister dragooned miscellaneous family members to stand on the Mall admiring the marching bands and various carriages with important passengers.  The multiple horse droppings took the edge off for me but left the wife’s enthusiasm undimmed.

The Golden Jubilee had us up there again, this time with our 18 year old son.  Plenty of good music including Brian Wilson the aging Beach Boy.

The Diamond Jubilee was memorable for the River Thames flotilla in London drizzle.  This was of course eclipsed by Her Majesty parachuting in with James Bond for the opening ceremony at the Olympics.

In the interim a few Royal weddings.  We couldn’t get enthused about Charles and Di.  Always something odd about them:

Whatever in love means

was his response when asked if they were in love.

We were on holiday in Pembrokeshire for the Andrew/Fergie thing.  Heather and her friend Jane found a pub showing the ceremony while the rest of us played beach cricket.

For Wills and Kate we were in Turin to the astonishment of the locals who had it on wall to wall and could not understand why we were not celebrating at home.

There was a resurgence of the madness for Harry and Meghan.  A street party and decorations all over the place.

This Platinum Jubilee has had a mixed reception among our friends and neighbours.  Our children could not be less interested.  The ringleader down our street, who I shall call Yvonne, together with my wife sent round WhatsApps in February but the street did not respond.  Then in May Ingrid, a German lady, whipped us into compliance and we had a pretty good turnout on the day.

On our tall stone pine we had red, white and blue lights and much appropriate bunting.  Heather tied Union flags on lampposts up the street which we collected yesterday.  She pointed out that she had been using these same flags since the Silver Jubilee.  She also has mugs for every Jubilee and wedding although she missed out on the highly prized Platinum Jubbly crockery currently being knocked out extortionately on eBay.

Her Majesty said it was a time for people to get together, and so it was round our way.  Wise words from our monarch and if she gets Paddington Bear’s seal of approval she must be a good egg.

But like I say, I am not a monarchist.

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