Our Queen: 70 years of the daily grind
All weekend, every time I turned on the telly, there were images of a little old lady in immaculate hats, coats, and sparkly broches, cutting a cake, shaking hands, smiling, and waving.
And what I saw wasn’t a life to envy, but a woman to pity. Seventy years in a job she didn’t choose, but – by accident of birth – inherited when her dad died. From the outside looking in, hers has been a life of daily duty and endless scrutiny, devoid of choice and lacking in privacy.
Hers is a life where protocol comes first. Like the people who decorate their Christmas trees with the posh baubles facing out to impress the neighbours, the pressure is on to keep up appearances. I wouldn’t trade places with her for the world; or even for what’s left of the Commonwealth.
I look at the monarchy and I see an outdated, costly, and irrelevant establishment that has no place in any modern society that I want to be part of. The monarch is head of state in name only, and I sincerely hope that once her reign ends, a proper scaling down begins.
But that aside, I feel for The Queen.
Where’s the room in her royal life for spontaneity? For putting a message on her friends’ WhatsApp Group suggesting drinks in The Heathmount on Friday night, or coffee and cake on a Sunday afternoon? Does she ever kick back and binge-watch Netflix in her joggers? Has she ever slept on a friend’s settee after one too many, or had to check her phone for evidence of what might have happened last night? I doubt it. I doubt it very much.
palace place to call her own?
Of course, she’s lived in luxurious palaces and castles. But maybe she’d have preferred to live in a wee house overlooking the sea, to have climbed a ladder with the tunes up loud, and painted the kitchen walls herself. A place to call her own.
Yes, she has travelled the world and met countless important people, but has she slept in a tent on a west coast beach, waking up to the ethereal sound of singing seals? Has she mountain-biked too fast down a hill or felt the tingle of swimming in ice? Maybe she dreamt of being a teacher, or a GP.
70 years of the daily grind?
I look at The Queen and see a grieving widow, a mum going through hell with her second-youngest, and a granny who must be wondering whether she could have done more for the boys after Diana died. I see a woman who knows the way the tide against the monarchy is turning yet feels it’s her duty to plough on until she dies.
70 years of the daily grind? I hope to be able to retire one day, to sing, walk and cycle more, to travel more with Mr Marr in our van. A life of riches? No thanks. But good on you, Ma’am. You’ve taken one for the team. I hope my pity for you is misplaced, and that you have been happy.
Falling foul of courteous drivers.
Have you noticed much of a change since the new Highway Code rules came in? The predicted ‘chaos’ from motoring organisations appears not to have ensued. I’m blissfully unaware of cars being rear-ended when they stop to allow pedestrians to cross, or of cyclists ‘taking over the roads’, although that’s something I’d dearly love to see more of.
I have, however, fallen foul of exactly the sort of ‘courtesy and consideration for more vulnerable road-users’ that the rule-changes aim to promote. Out for a (very slow) run the morning after the Press Ball night before, I approached a junction, and paused to wait for the traffic to clear. Excellent, I thought. A chance to catch my breath.
No such luck – a cheery wave from a woman in a red Polo meant I had no option but to carry on. I’ll take your courtesy, drivers, but only when it suits me…
Ageing into a new hobby?
I said I’d never do it, so I must be getting old. I have signed up for golf lessons. My inspiration was hardly Paige Spiranac (although thanks to my pal Andrew for the outfit suggestions) but exploring beautiful, deserted courses during lockdown.
One of my proficient golfing friends is delighted. I’ve suggested she might be less thrilled when I’m hacking up greens and holding her up on fairways. With eyesight no better than a mole’s and a slow-recovering shoulder injury, this could be a short-lived new hobby. But might it be slightly less dangerous than skiing?
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