London Bridge is Down

The rain really has settled in, and on Saturday we are gonna try to do Twelfth Night at The Willow Globe slap bang in the middle of Wales. We are gonna get soaked.

In a strong example of pathetic fallacy, the skies have been weeping. The water has been pummeling down. The roads are flooded. The gutters are backed up. Driving through London I was feeling awful for the poor cyclists, bobbing on their little frames through massive floody puddles.

You can’t get any music on the radio but for the National Anthem. Indignant journalists complain about those young people taking selfies outside Buckingham Palace. Others speak as slowly as they can, perhaps knowing how much of the schedule they are going to have to fill with words. Chelsea Physic Garden will be closed tomorrow, in mourning. Who knows what the roads will be like to Wales, or the audience when we are out there. “London Bridge is down”. That is, apparently, the code phrase to tell us that the Queen is dead. And so indeed she is. She just held on long enough that someone other than Boris Johnson got to talk about it for posterity outside number ten. Subsequent generations, watching the footage, will say “who is that outside number ten?” Liz Truss just met her majesty before she died. I have a feeling a lot of old people will die this winter.

But the Queen will be remembered. A stateswoman. A remarkable figurehead. An international symbol. She helped our frightened little island look a lot less chaotic and foolish than it really is. She brought gravitas and a sense of tradition into international relationships – the sort of thing that gives us our USP to other nations. The thing that sold Downton, The Crown, Bridgerton…

Jugears is coming in now, older than many. Who knows what will become of him – he hasn’t the weight of his mother. Do the fates of the Charlies alternate? Do I hear the grinding of an axe? We now have an android for Prime Minister and a twit as king. I’ve met the king though. How unusual. He was personable. Maybe he will fund the arts. He seems to like theatre. We shall see. I guess they’ll have to put his face on the next minting of coins.

A day of trying to remember lines in company, and tomorrow we all drive up to Wales. I’m looking forward to it. Lou can come and we all get to stay in a huge country house. Perhaps Malvolio will wear a black armband in mourning. After all, Olivia’s household is a mourning household. But plans plans plans. Plans are not allowed.

I’m sleeping in Richmond tonight, surrounded by packing boxes. I wanted to see Tristan and Tanya before they move to Ham and lose the spare room. I’ve got a friend on the sofa and another in my bed. Makes sense to do it now, and we can talk about all the immediate responses to this news of the day, that will eclipse all other news for literally weeks. The pageantry. The funeral. The coronation… This will be big business. People will fly in from all over the world. It’ll actually help our economy in the short term before the actuality of the new regime becomes apparent.

I liked her. Loads of my friends just detest the whole institution. I just preferred her as head of state than the unelectable fools we keep having to choose between. A monarch is a lottery. It’s totally unfair. But for the ones who do it, it is their job and they learn from an early age. Still, some are mad, some are bad, some are great. We’ve had a great one. Expensive thing to have but it brings in more money and interest and love for our nation than many people are willing to accept. I hope that son of hers has learnt well.

Farewell Queenie.

This portrait came out of the Jersey Heritage Trust.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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