A colleague overheard the following Pinteresque exchange between two young men on the train recently. Expletives, of which there were many, omitted for family viewing.
The pair were looking at a picture of the Queen.
‘Good old gel!’
‘When she dies it’s going to be massive!’
‘Bigger than Di!’
‘Yeah. I’ll be up there!’ (whacks chest enthusiastically)
‘What is she, eighty six?’
‘That’s what you want, not Blair or Cameron!’
‘Fair play to her!’
Such patriotism and love of the royal family fair warms the cockles of my heart!
I myself have met the queen on two occasions. I say ‘met’ but although her majesty looked me straight in the eye from close quarters I doubt she remembers.
The first time was at one of Michael Heseltine’s National Garden Festivals. I was wearing my Natural Theatre Company flowerpot mask. My job was to pop out of the bushes next to the miniature railway and wave at the surprised passengers as they passed. I knew the queen was visiting but I had no idea she would be made to suffer the indignity of travelling in the little train. Imagine my surprise when looking through the tiny pinholes that act as eyepieces on the masks I saw her startled majesty not three feet away.
The other occasion was when I had the honour of leading the jubilee procession down the Mall dressed as a royal nanny, complete with old fashioned pram. It was rather an artistic parade and the directors gave strict instructions that costumed participants should play their designated role and not indulge in any crass waving. I was of the opinion that a nanny would wave, so when I reached Buckingham PalaceI waved like mad at a lady in a big hat whom I supposed was the queen and she enthusiastically waved back. I felt a surge of pride. What I didn’t know was that the podia had been swapped round since the printed instructions had been sent out. I had my comedy nanny glasses on and my vision was decidedly blurred. Turns out I was frantically waving at the wife of some minor VIP while the queen stared resolutely at my back.
I don’t think either of these meetings will have contributed to my potential knighthood.