Monday 4 June 2012

Diamond Lil

What more appropriate way to begin the Queen's Birthday holiday than by watching the coverage of the Royal Pageant on the Thames to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee? Except that the BBC's commentary was so obsequious, and the weather didn't co-operate - but 1000 assorted boats, five miles, four knots, swan-uppers, watermen, a floating belfry, a million-plus spectators, goodness knows how many Union flags and miles of bunting... it was an unmissable spectacle. (Let's gloss over the fact that I could easily have been there, just popping back over the Channel last week instead of flying home from Munich. I'm perverse like that: I got to England in 1977 a scant fortnight after the Silver Jubilee.)

It was good to see the waka making fine progress along the river with all the other rowed boats, though I felt for the bros with their bare chests; and I looked away when the leisure cruisers went past. The Queen seemed delighted to board the Britannia launch again to get out to the royal barge - it's normally kept now at Leith with the Britannia since its decommission. That was the first of today's connections: Her Maj and I go right back, you know. I've been growled at by her bodyguard at Badminton, drunk her tea at Buckingham Palace, trailed around Holyrood, got the goss on the royal parsimony at Sandringham (no silver sixpence in the staff Christmas pud!) - not to mention being born the year she was crowned, so she's been a fixture all my life. In the job 60 years, still going strong at 86 (she didn't sit down once today!) - impressive, and well worth celebrating with such a huge spectacle.

It was fun to see Joey from War Horse prancing on top of the National Theatre - I went to see the play last month and it was brilliant (it's now on also on Broadway). I was interested too to see Tower Bridge with its bascules (bascules!) raised right to the top as her barge approached at the end. I went under it myself just last month, on a ferry along the Thames, gawping at all the sights old and new - like The Shard, almost complete (and already explored by an urban fox right up to the 72nd floor). It's a must-do, such a good way to view that great city, and  the river is always busy - though never as chokka, and as colourful despite the dreary weather, as it was during the pageant today.

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