Sunday, 23 August 2015

We are not a muse

On November 16th, 1899 Queen Victoria arrived in Bristol to open the aptly named Queen Victoria Jubilee Convalescent Home, a place where Clifton folk of a delicate disposition could recuperate after the shock of seeing a poor person.

Her visit was a trigger for one of the greatest displays of patriotic excess ever seen in the city.
The profusion of Union Jack bunting was so extreme that one commentator was moved to express the view that "John Bull himself appears to have vomited over the entire conurbation in an outpouring of red white and blue appreciation".

The route from the station was lined with scarlet jacketed soldiers, the good citizens of Bristol cheered her every inch of the way, small orphans were thrown under the wheels of her carriage to muffle the sound as she passed over the cobbled streets and everywhere the crowds thronged in a joyfully throngy way.

The highlight was a carriage ride across the downs where a 300 yard stand had been constructed to accommodate 26,000 children singing the National Anthem at her. Amazingly, she survived although locals reported hundreds of squirrels dropping dead from the trees.

She stayed just long enough for tea and buns, kissed a few dignitaries and shook hands with a baby and then it was back on the train to be home in time for a quick chapter of her favourite book; " How to run an Empire whilst looking like Alfred Hitchcock in a frock".

My, how times have changed.

These days the Royal Family has to smile at everyone and even stand quite near ordinary
people sometimes.
They have to appear both regal and in touch with the riff raff all at the same time for fear of being criticised as just another bunch of foreigners living off the state.
There is much debate over how much they cost, whether they should get proper jobs and why they don't buy their tiaras at Argos like the rest of us.

I have to say, it's not a job I'd want, but then I'm no good at dressing like my grandparents and I couldn't eat a whole corgi so I probably wouldn't qualify anyway.

Now, however, the world has turned full circle and Her Victorian Majesty, Empress of India, Mother of Nations and Upholder of the Stiff Upper Lip has returned to Clifton.

At least this time she's making an effort to offset her expenses and demonstrate that she can handle change.

If you can spare any...