Notebook: We Are Not Amused
It was a strange bank holiday. Having talked about going to London for the Royal Wedding, and doing nothing more than staying in the George & Dragon, we decided that for the Queen’s Jubilee we would actually do something about participating in the event. Being interested in naval history we decided that the water pageant would be a suitable occasion for our patronage.
The problem with this decision was that 1.5 million people had had exactly the same idea – a fact that began to dawn on us when London Midland’s Sunday service rolled into Lichfield Trent Valley almost full, despite having only made a few stops along the line.
Having stood all the way to London wedged up against angry strangers with the Union flag painted on their faces, when we finally emerged from the tube station we found it impossible to get anywhere near the royal action (unless you count the feeble anti-monarchist protest by London Bridge) because the police had closed off virtually all routes to the river.
As the drizzle fell we took the only civilised course of action and decamped to El Vino for a drink, followed by the bar of the Gilbert Scott. Later, back in Lichfield, we switched on the TV to discover someone from the BBC interviewing the man who operates the hydraulic lift at Tower Bridge. “Has it ever failed?” “Well, when you’re dealing with machinery, there’s always that chance, but no, it never has.” Oh.
As you can imagine, I was in no mood for a wet Lichfield Bower (or any Lichfield Bower) the following day, but in the absence of anything more interesting to do we joined the crowds in the Close just in time to catch the procession. It was slightly scaled back from previous years – no doubt a wise decision given the much-publicised financial problems – but still brought smiles to our faces. The Bower has progressed a bit from its orgins as a mustering excercise for Henry II’s troops, but there’s still something comforting about this home-grown tradition that makes it well worth cherishing. Strange to think that we enjoyed more historic pageant on our doorstep, in the end, than we did in the capital.