On this day, the Queen enters the Guinness Book Of Records for waving in a stilted manner while some people cheer. I’m not a fan but I was once, for my own nefarious means…
The Nations Nan and My Master Plan
My plotting started when Prince Charles came all the way from Royal Buckingham Palace up London, to Carn Brea Leisure Centre. Now anything is possible I decided. Sharon Pengilly was on the news, waving in her white bonnet. I was nowhere to be seen. Next time, I decided, the glory will be mine, but it will be so much more. Bonnets won’t get a look in.
‘Mum? Do you think the Queen might come to our house?’ ‘Maybe love. Who knows?’ This was enough.
When I was a kid, I really wanted the Queen to drop by unexpected, to the house where I lived with Mum, Dad and my brothers, Jimi and Iain, just so I could show off about it and find out what we had in common with a view to discovering we were related.
The happy plan was marred only by the fact that we didn’t own a burgundy and gold velvet chair for Her Majesty to park on, as well as the concern that the snacks we’d have to offer were hard work on an empty stomach, and let’s face it, she’d have had quite a trek. Raisins and raw carrots aren’t ideal for a Royal Tea. We didn’t have normal snacks in our house and raisins and raw carrots weren’t meant to be snacks anyway. They were simply the only food cupboard basics available in an emergency, as they needed no preparation.
Hours of planning went into this improbable scenario as mine and Jimi’s half-arsed attempts at making our own dictionary, an exercise workout routine and an invisibility potion had fizzled out and there wasn’t a Google yet. Or a Boppit. Etc.
Our Monarch’s comfort would be paramount. Under no circumstances would Jimi be allowed to blow off and my Dad would surely know not to launch into the Heinz Beanz poem. Perhaps I could deflect criticism from the absence of a door on the toilet by quickly standing some grape hyacinths in a washed out Branston pickle jar? Comfort was to be found in the knowledge that posh English people would be too polite to say anything anyway and thus I’d be able to wallow in the glory of the happy visit, fart smells or sans fart smells.
The burgundy and gold velvet chair idea arose from a worry that the Queen would feel a bit homesick if there weren’t at least some familiar touches about the place. I couldn’t put a cork in Jimi’s bum but it’d be nice to make our home more homely for Elizabeth II. I know I would have appreciated it if my friends houses had been a little more like my own. For instance, when one of us kids spilt a cup of tea in our house, Mum sort of rubbed it into the carpet with her foot. But when I removed my shoes to reveal blackened, dirt-solid, fetid socks, Mrs Fletcher screamed, used up a whole can of air freshener in my actual comfort zone, made me have a bath and put me in alien nylon tights before blowing up my children’s week old once-whites in a controlled explosion. Why didn’t she just pretend not to notice and made me play in the garden with my shoes back on, like my mum would have done? I was made to feel like a cross between Fagin and a trollop at the age of seven. I wouldn’t make the Queen feel like a tart or an old tramp. And we’d spare her the story about when me and Jimi went begging because that hadn’t happened yet.
Anyway, it wouldn’t possible to replicate Buckingham Palace at 49 Agar Road but the least we could do was put something resembling a throne in it. A velveteen curtain thrown over the sofa would be more desirous than a kick up the Royal arse, I reasoned. She’d just be glad of a sit down.
I’m certain that concerning myself with an unexpected famous guest led directly to my turning my single bed by day into a chaise longue, by bundling my clothes into ball-like cushions, and putting them in a luxurious line along the bit where the bed meets the wall. I’d lie, beatifically staring into space, imagining myself to be an as-yet unidentified princess, like Sarah Crewe before getting bored and running off to play Washing Machines. Washing Machines was great and remains one of the few games me and Jimi could play without fighting. You imitate the activity of the actual washing on washday by sitting on the window sill, climbing onto the sofa back, rolling onto the sofa (you’re in the drum now) then onto the floor, violently, hysterically and repeatedly until saturation point is reached. I like to think that this led directly to my degree in Performance Art and was certainly more entertaining that my or indeed anyone’s degree show ever in the world.
One day, I had ten pee’s worth of lemon sherbet and as a welcome addition to the solitary chaise longue, put it within reach, on a little table, elegantly presented on a saucer so that I could luxuriate on said bonquette, dipping a finger in, as and when. Unfortunately number 49 Agar Road was damp and it turned into an unappetising yellow puddle while I was regally helping Jimi and Dad look for a football in our Rose bush. Eventually we found the football when we moved house, two years later. It was a mystery because the bush was minuscule. The lemon gunk went in the bin. I digress.
I wouldn’t have shared my sherbet with anyone anyway. Especially not the Queen. She could easily afford the whole jar. I would have drawn the curtains so that Sharon Pengilly’s moon face couldn’t leer up under a stupid Pom Pom bonnet, mouthing ‘remember me? I stood near your son once’. For the finale of the tour of No 49, The Queen could have had a listen to my radio, it was a little bit tuned to France and had a single flesh coloured ear plug. On second thoughts, I might have preferred to hide it. Hanyone of breeding knows, hif the Queen had hadmired it, I’d ‘ave ‘ad to let her ‘ave it. It was quite the poshest thing one’d ever seen.
How sad to learn now, in my old age and after years of waiting, that the Queen will never nip round. She’ll never know the little pleasures we knew. She’d never have had her neighbour yell ‘play up your own end’ at her, as my husband did as a boy, piddling about in the lane outside. I bet she never got called a big useless kelp or hairy arsed eejit by her own Pater, or tried to decorate her room by using black paint as glue to attach her drawings to the wall. (The paint dried and the pictures fell off but Dad said it didn’t matter because we were moving house anyway). Well done Queen for being the longest reigning monarch. Perhaps you do know the Heinz Beanz poem, it’s quite joyful at first but then gets rather tiresome. A bit like Prince Philip I imagine.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on childhood ideas about the Queen and also feel free to correct my grammar and spelling, I’m ever so rusty, it’s quite shocking really. Then again, I went to a Comp and Poly and studied Art for 7 years. It’s astonishing I can string a thingy together.