Well it’s Jubilee Sunday on June the third and I’m sitting on my sofa in front of a log fire having turned the central heating back on. And this afternoon I was standing on a bench on the banks of the Thames in Putney watching the pageant in the freezing drizzle, futilely jumping up and down to try to beat the cold, layered up in every item of clothing to be found kicking around the car boot. But despite the all-too-predictable conditions we still shouted, whooped and waved our little hearts out as the endless stream of vessels passed by farting steam from their funnels, honking their horns and firing water cannons to a fairly excitable crowd who weren’t even close to the start line, let-alone along the official stretch.
We, the newbies, arrived back to our village and went to the playing field to check out a small army of cheerful locals, top to toe in wellies, driza-bones and rain ponchos, pitching marquees under a torrential downpour in readiness for tomorrow’s party. We seemed to be spare parts in the tent-erection process so instead we made a couple of flasks of tea, raided the larder for spare Christmas chocolates that were still kicking around and took them up to the workers, hopefully ingratiating ourselves to our new neighbours and it looked like it worked. We’re so sweet as a nation really; these folk were standing in a field soaked to the skin, at 6.30 on a Sunday afternoon dragging tents up in the pouring rain, covered in wet grass and mud – and all it took was a paper cup of tea and a dodgy champagne truffle and it was almost as though we’d turned up with the Crown Jewels! Bloody Hell this country’s in an awful mess; there’s a distinctly worrying lack of good old-fashioned values to be found; our kids have their every whim indulged but their futures are more unstable than ever; it sometimes feels that there’s no-one left in a position of authority who possesses a scrap of common sense; you can’t park bloody anywhere, and on top of all that the weather is pretty much shite all the time. But beneath our beaten exteriors we have a stoicism, a stiff-upper-lip, a unique and endearing sense of irony and humour, and there’s still a fleeting but unmistakable shadow of what we once were just a generation or so ago to be glimpsed. And it’s times like these that seem to wonderfully re-ignite our strength of character, our sense of history and our understanding of what it’s all about.
Tomorrow is our village’s little party and the weather forecast is appalling but I still plan to wear my white silk dress, red flip-flops and blue denim jacket despite the fact that what I should probably don is a wetsuit, anorak and wellies. But Bugger That, it’s the Diamond Jubilee (and I’ve lost 2 stone so I’m wearing my new dress whatever the weather!).
For the festivities I’m making my first ever pavlova which is in the oven as we speak. I thought it would rise but instead it’s gone from a starting height of approx 3 inches to about half that. I can only hope it will be marshmallowy, light and chewy beneath a lovely crisp crust. And I’ll take it to the blooming Jubilee Party, and it will be delicious, and I will wear my dress, and we will have a lovely, flag-waving, totally British time. Yes we will.
I wish you all a wonderful Diamond Jubilee holiday, and long live our Queen, Elizabeth. Quite a bird.