Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How to Survive a Jubilee

First of all, it seems I was wrong in a previous post. The weather for the Jubilee Pageant was not nice at all. Unless you are a journalist in need of a few platitudes, that is. From what I read in The Telegraph, you would have thought that the torrential downpour during the river pageant was God's special answer to a collective British prayer for a soaking.

Yes, the heavens opened and we could all rejoice! Time to show the world how we Brits can Keep Calm and Carry On. Let it never be said that we can't cope with a bit of rain and wind. We welcome it, for it makes the occasion truly British. See how we sing, cheer and wave flags! What a disaster it would have been had the sun shone brightly and the Thames' sparkle eclipsed the Royal Bling.

In our case, see how we flee to the hills to escape it all. Lansdown, just outside Bath, to be precise. By the time we had arrived at our place of escape, the clouds were gathering and curtains of rain could be seen in the distance. At least there was not a shred of bunting to be seen. I suppose it's about a mile from the parking place to Prospect Stile, easy walking with only a few white racecourse rails to duck under. Someone in the far distance was walking a dog. Otherwise, we were alone on this Middle Jurassic flat-top.

Didn't take long for the rain to embrace us. Soaking wet, we carried on, determined to reach Prospect Stile as we cheered ourselves by reflecting on our escape from all the madness.

Suffice to say, we got so thoroughly wet that our return walk conversation was entirely about the logistics of getting into the car without turning its interior into a soggy disaster.

Home at last. Hot showers, tea and television. The river pageant was drawing to a climax. I could scarcely believe my eyes. Was that scowling vision in white our Own Dear Queen? Were those drenched choristers really belting out Rule Britannia in the teeth of a specially imported Atlantic gale? For me, it was cringingly embarrassing, made even worse by the BBC commentary. It was compelling viewing!

That storm, however, was as nothing to that which broke this morning over the report that jobless youth were bussed in to London to act as unpaid stewards for the river pageant, treated appallingly and made to sleep under a bridge before changing in public for their duties. No hot showers, proper shelter and meals for them when it was over. Let alone a fair wage for a tough job well done.

It has taken me several hours to stop trembling with rage.

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