There’s republicanism and Republicanism.
I’m a republican. Or used to be – until one smile from Her Majesty saw me all but shouting Long Live Good Queen Bess on her visit to Blackpool.
She looked at me. She smiled at me. She even waved at me – ME!
Forget the thousands either side – there were none. She’d left the hordes behind in Blackpool. There were more waiting at Rossall. Along the Prom, throngs thinned to small pockets of people, passers-by, and a post-operative me and my mum, sat in the back of an open top car, perched atop the back seats, eating choc ices, catching the rays on a sunny day.
And the royal retinue swept past and before One had time to ask “Isn’t that the lady on the stamps?”, One was basking in the warmth of that smile from the Queen. It’s an extraordinary smile when it’s genuine and reaches the eyes.
I’ve always had a sneaking regard for Charles, too, who officially overtook sister Anne, the Princess Royal, as the hardest-working royal seven years ago.
I felt desperately sorry for him over CamillaGate – when recordings of intimate conversations were made public – and more recently when private correspondence to Labour ministers came to light.
The divine right of kings ended long ago but there’s a degree of hypocrisy concerning parliamentarians who allow high-ranking politicians to get away with lobbying for a price but deny a prince of the realm a voice in matters of state.
And how many of us cheered when Charles labelled the proposed extension to the National Gallery a “monstrous carbuncle”? Or when he got caught on camera describing Nicholas Witchell as ‘that awful man’?
Since he attacked “corporate lobbyists and climate change sceptics” for turning the Earth into a “dying patient” I’ve been hoping to hear him hold forth on fracking – given the interest in Bowland shale. But if you doubt this man’s ability to reign take a good long look at one of the most historic handshakes of all time – between Charles and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. The veteran Republican (capital R note) is said to have justified the murder of the prince’s great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979, along with his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, 14 (whose twin Timothy survived), Lady Doreen Brabourne – and a 15-year-old local boy Paul Maxwell who was helping out on the boat bombed by the IRA that day.
On that same day, in the summer of ’79, 16 members of the Parachute Regiment of which Charles is now Colonel-in-chief were killed in an ambush, along with two other soldiers, close to the border.
He also had a private meeting with the parents of Paul, the Irish schoolboy who became the Republicans’ ‘collateral damage’. I was moved to hear his mother’s comments on radio ahead of meeting Charles. “There must be some kind of bond,” she mused. “I feel he is making a statement in coming. He’s extending the hand of friendship and forgiveness. Every little step counts.”
That handshake lasted all of 13 seconds and got the world talking. It didn’t set the world to rights but it sure as hell – and what we saw 25 years ago was hell – set an example. How to forgive if not forget. Or as Charles put it: “Healing is possible even as the heartache continues.”
We’re digging a hole by serving grub on shovels
I’m old enough to remember when chicken in a basket was considered the height of sophistication in cabaret bars.
It would be lined with greaseproof paper to catch the spotting from the lard.
Eeh, men knew how to show a woman a good time back then.
Chicken and chips, a bottle of Blue Nun, and a pale imitation of Sinatra crooning Strangers in the Night.
We only started burning our bras when we hit the fondue age and set fire to the tablecloths. I was an Accidental Feminist.
I’m also old enough to remember when chips came wrapped in newspapers, the fish swimming happily in fat-soaked headlines. I once spotted my own face under the peas. Last year a mate bought me a ‘pretend’ newspaper cone in ceramic for chips, with a little bowl for dip which kind of undermined the tradition because what self respecting Brit dipped chips in mayo back in the day?
Today I’d give anything for a good old fashioned plate. Not a stone or a chunk of wood or a slab of slate ringing with Welsh recriminations at serving hot pot upon it.
There’s food served with a flourish and food which is frankly ridiculous.
We live in an age when afternoon tea is presented on mini picnic tables with tiny plant pots containing jam. I keep expecting The Borrowers to nick the lot…
Bread is served in flat caps in York, and slippers in London. Chips on everything – including mini shopping trolleys in Dublin. I’ve got one of those shopping trolleys from Ringtons tea which was full of sweeties at Easter and now contains my mobile phones. Chips of sorts, I suppose.
I don’t know if the latest food fad is tongue in cheek or mocking the working classes – uptown girl meets ‘Downton’ scullery boy – but I still remember the horror on a local dowager’s face when chips arrived in a mini frying basket at an upmarket restaurant.
And if you really want to call a spade a spade, don’t go to the restaurant serving Sunday lunch on shovels. We’re digging a hole here, folks, so let’s hear it for the social media campaign started by a Yorkshire journalist @wewantplates on Twitter.