I had been planning to blog about our earliest form of transport for a while, then walking took on yet another aspect last week with the royal funeral, the various processions leading up to it and of course The Queue. But first back to basics.
I don’t do hills. I don’t do walking. I don’t like walking.
I was once watching a comedy in which the teenager daughter greets her mother’s return home. ‘I didn’t know where you were, I thought you’d gone for a walk.‘ Mother replies ‘Walk! I’ve never been for a walk in my life.’
Someone describing how the heat was not a problem in Singapore with the air conditioned malls… I asked ‘What if you want to go for a walk?’ He replied looking puzzled ‘Why would you want to go for a walk?’
Why would you not want to walk, the most natural activity for humans, exercise that costs nothing and a handy way to get where you want to go. During Covid lockdown it was one of the few activities allowed and non dog owners discovered new delights. I love walking, but I have no desire to trek to either pole or up to Everest base camp; solo or with companions, who I would be intensely irritated with by the third day… But ordinary walking, enjoying the fresh air, scenery, perhaps photography and probably ending up at a nice cafe or pub is fun for everyone… What do non walkers do when they go for a day out or on holiday? You may think National Trust Houses have large grounds because the original owners owned all the local land; no, it’s so we can have a nice walk before having lunch in the restaurant and looking round the house. No holiday is complete without a walk along a cliff path or a steep ascent up a hill to enjoy the view.
Modern technology, from super electronic wheelchairs to state of the art artificial limbs allow many who are disabled to get out and about with their friends and family who are fit and able to walk. Walking is freedom and not to be taken for granted; those under repressive regimes or living in dangerous areas cannot just go out for a walk. If you are used to walking everywhere it’s a reminder of the privilege when you ‘do something’ to your back or knee and suddenly can’t walk. The leaflets we were given when having chemotherapy suggest that ‘going for a short walk will help combat fatigue’ – this turned out to be a joke as most of each three week cycle it was a struggle to get to the front gate or up the stairs. It was an insight into the chronic fatigue that people with Long Covid and other debilitating medical conditions have to cope with.
So back to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth 11. Whatever your views on royalty or television ( blanket ) coverage of the events, there was a fascination with both the formal traditions and the spontaneous acts of those who came to queue to watch a procession or for The Queen’s lying in. There is something dignified and humbling about the men of the family and others close to the royals walking slowly behind the coffin. Princess Anne joined them, as she did for her father’s funeral, a token man for the day? Presumably it is tradition that only the men walk. If any of the chaps didn’t like walking they were in for a tiring time. I like a brisk walk, walking slowly at a measured pace is much harder, I have tried it round the house. Nor did I go up to London to join The Queue, almost a pilgrimage. They had a long distance to cover at a very slow pace, I wondered if there were escape points for those who changed their minds and just wanted to go home.
There are environmental benefits if everyone walked on short journeys and for writers it is one of the best ways to see real life, but those are topics for another blog.
Are you a walker or non walker? If you enjoy walking what is your favourite sort of walk?
‘Shall I put the news on?’
‘I thought you liked to catch up with events?’
‘Nothing to catch up with now the funeral’s over.’
‘Only what’s been going on in the rest of the world.’
‘No thanks, it was lovely having a break, I really miss The Queue and the marching oh and the vigils. There’s nothing to talk about at work now. Back to hearing about Thelma’s operation and Kitty’s boyfriend.’
‘Do you mind if I put it on, I want to see what the Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed in the Fiscal Event.’
‘The Fiscal what?’
‘Budget, mini budget, bound to be bad news, whatever it’s called.’
‘I can’t remember what the new chancellor’s called.’
‘No, nor can I, but apparently he’s very clever, won a scholarship to Eton and won University Challenge single handed.’
Just pictures – no explanation
Whatever your thoughts on monarchy, wherever you live, if you are in a safe and comfortable spot and not dealing with war or natural disaster, you will be well aware of The Queen’s death and either following or avoiding the lead up to the funeral tomorrow. Though a sad time, it is also one of the greatest shows on earth, full of human interest from the folk in The Queue to the many royals, world leaders and assorted dignitaries arriving. If you get in a panic when you have a family gathering or visitors coming to stay, imagine the preparations for this get together. Of course plans are always in place for big events, but have to be tailored at the last moment down to the finest detail of diplomatically deciding who will sit next to whom.
However, the solemnity of the occasion does not stop me having irreverent thoughts. When will the Lego or Playmobil Royal Funeral sets be coming out? Think of all the colourful characters to collect.
Where do the royal family and all those other officials who dress up, keep all their uniforms?
Dipping in to the endless chat on the radio I heard a presenter talking to some important military person about the funeral procession. When he mentioned the Royal Canadian Mounted Police taking part she asked him if they were bringing their horses and he said he wasn’t sure! How would they bring them, but how could they not bring them? Would they have to borrow ponies from the local riding school?
It was feasible that I could have jumped on a train at Bournemouth, up to Waterloo Station and sauntered down to the South Bank to join The Queue, a long walk to the end of the queue, but not as long as the slow walk to finally cross the River Thames and approach Westminster. I am impressed by those who have gone and it seems most were making new friends and having quite a jolly time. When they interview those who come out after their few moments passing by the queen’s coffin they all seem to have found it an amazing, solemn experience that will stay with them forever. But I didn’t go, I never have gone to London for the big crowd events, I have enough trouble deciding what to wear or take for a normal day out.
If any of you have been to pay your respects in any part of the country during The Queen’s journey from Balmoral, tell us how it was. Or will you be watching the funeral tomorrow at home or perhaps on one of the big screens local authorities are putting up so people can watch together?
You had to laugh, some of them looked worn out and they’d only been ‘out on the street’ for one night.
Nic was having the time of his life, all night company, places to eat and toilets open twenty four hours. Buildings open to all, light and life and most of all, everyone being nice to each other. Nobody cared who you were or where you came from, which was very different from nobody caring.
He had been given a wrist band, but had no intention of going to see the Queen. He wouldn’t have minded meeting her when she was still alive, some of her family were nearly as dysfunctional as his so she wouldn’t judge.
Nic had a fair idea what was going on at Westminster from chatting to others. Airport security, well he wasn’t carrying anything suspicious that would beep, but they would be on the lookout for suspicious looking people. Anyway, he was content to stay this side of the river. Others had come on their own, some people happy to share with new friends food they had brought or nipped from the queue to buy.
At regular intervals Nic would slip away for a ‘comfort break’ and discarding his wrist band, wend his way by a circuitous route to the back of the queue again and new friends. What a night, he saw the lights on the River Thames with new eyes, taking on the enthusiasm of those new to the city.
At Operation London Bridge Control Room human eyes looked at banks of screens while their colleagues, the digital detectives, scanned images with state of the art face recognition and other skills.
‘Screen six, near the end of the queue, got a loiterer… suspect coming back again, what’s his game… contact officers in that sector.’
Nic thought he was pretty anonymous, an observer, so he was startled to confront the smiling face of a man in a suit with a microphone.
‘We’re live on BBC television, can I ask what made you decide to come tonight?’
‘Oh um yes, I’m a local, so no trouble…’
‘It’s chilly tonight, but you were still happy to leave home comforts?’
Nic was just about to relate another made up life when he spotted them behind the reporter, two police officers and as he turned slightly, two more behind him. Now what on earth should he do…
‘No home comforts mate, I’m homeless, like lots of others and nobody has given us a mention… and if I get arrested nobody is going to care, except perhaps millions of viewers…’
For many the summer holidays are over and a new school year has started. After having all the family visiting, not quite at the same time and being away helping with tiny Tidalscribes last week, I am keen to start my autumn term in the blogging world.
Strange goings on at Chez Tidalscribe
But as Prince Louis and my youngest grandson both started school and my eldest grandson became a teenager, there were far greater landmarks about to happen.
The death of Queen Elizabeth 11 on Thursday September 8th seemed to come suddenly. It was only on Tuesday that our new prime minister, Liz Truss, had been pictured meeting The Queen, who as tradition demands, asked her to form a new government. She looked frail and the meeting took place at Balmoral to spare Her Majesty the journey to Buckingham Palace, but it was only when we heard news later of her family rushing to Balmoral that her health was obviously worse than the public knew.
A drama and a moment in history that no script writer could have made up. The only monarch most of us have ever known had lived to see her platinum jubilee and just long enough to ‘see off’ Boris Johnson, as he put it.
King Charles 111 spoke movingly and seems so far to have people’s support. Whatever your own religious beliefs, the Queen took her oath sincerely to serve God and her country and Charles spoke of God Almighty and his faith. It is surely welcome that royals, unlike politicians, acknowledge a higher power. I always envy those people who brave the crowds, bring their flowers, chat to the press and make memories that will last. Many more of us have been following on television. It is a sad occasion, but also full of drama; from the many people of all sorts on the streets, to the interesting traditions, mostly involving colourful uniforms, coming into play as we lead up to the funeral.
I see no reason why Charles should not be a good king and perhaps at his weekly audiences with our new prime minister he can steer her down the green and humanitarian route we so badly need. My grandchildren will hopefully live to see three kings in their life time.
Orange rocket launch cancelled due to engine trouble.
It’s Bank Holiday Monday in the kingdom, except for Scotland and motoring organisations have issued an amber warning to motorists…
Outbreak of mosquitoes in Southbourne; Health Secretary advises everyone to buy mosquito nets.
NASA advises leading blogger that orange rocket has a name and finds it offensive to be referred to by its colour.
A couple who named their new born baby Artemis have issued a complaint to NASA as Artemis fails to launch following the baby’s birth. Mr and Mrs Take were quoted as saying ‘We don’t want our son named after a failure.’
A social media row broke out after NASA responded to new parents Mr and Mrs Take to point out that Artemis was a goddess, so the name would have been more suitable if he had been a daughter. There have been heated arguments on international media as to whether a rocket is male or female or is entitled to self identify.
Scientists have issued a warning…
‘Giant leap for lambkind in Nasa’s Artemis 1 launch’
Shaun the Sheep is reported to be despondent as he returned to his field tonight. When asked how he felt he declined to comment.
When NASA was contacted they explained that Shaun the Sheep and his new friend Snoopy are the most important part of the mission. Their official purpose is to demonstrate zero gravity by floating around.
NASA launches a new rocket tomorrow, it’s orange.
Scientists have warned…
Europe’s biggest street festival is on this weekend, two million people are expected to attend…
Scientists have discovered…
A celebrity is suing the well known…
Experts have revealed
Well known celebrity appears in court.
Leading doctors warn of…
World leaders are gathering…
An Extra Galactical Astronomer explains the importance of the orange rocket and tries to explain what an Extra Galactical Astronomer is.
Charlotte was beginning to regret joining the new Hambourne Happy Creatives group. As a newcomer to the pretty town it had seemed the obvious group to join to keep her energised in her rocky writing career. She was eager to write a more cheery novel than her last and hoped Hambourne would inspire her to write about her new heroine, a recently widowed writer who moves to a country town for peace and quiet, but finds herself investigating a murder.
If she had been a local she would have known to keep Robert Falstaff at arm’s length. To Charlotte, at first, he was a charming man who had advice to freely offer, from dealing with computer problems to publishing and promotion. His apparent connections to television had her fantasising about a Sunday evening cosy drama.
Now, at this evening’s meeting, she found herself at the centre of attention, with her languishing novel ‘2053’ the topic of a discussion led by Robert. The other members were kindly in their questions, but she felt herself and the novel horribly exposed.
‘What made you choose the title, or that year Charlotte?’
‘I wanted it to be in the future, but still in a time frame when I could conceivably still be alive. How was I to know when I was writing it that all the events would come true by 2022!’
‘You could change the year, or perhaps call it The Covid Chronicles.’
‘Oh dear no, does anyone want to read novels about Covid?’
‘Hmm, I am writing a novel about Covid and the horror it brought to a town like Hambourne’ said a tight lipped woman.
‘Well, the novel is out there, published on Amazon,’ said Robert with an expression of disdain ‘so let’s concentrate on how Charlotte could do much better with promotion.’
‘Um, I was hoping to have a stall at your arts festival…’
‘Internationally I mean.’
‘I do have my blog and quite a few followers from every continent, except Antarctica.’
Robert scrolled down his iPad, Charlotte shuddered to see the familiar sky blue background of Thinking Through. Was her poor little blog to be exposed to ridicule?
‘Oh yes, I am thinking of starting a blog’ said a timid lady Charlotte immediately warmed to.
‘Silly Saturday, Silly Sunday, Monday Madness, Tuesday Tiny Tales, Wordless Wednesday, Thursday Trifles and Fun Friday’ sneered Robert. ‘Charlotte dear, you are not exactly coming across as a serious author.’
It’s a long time since I visited Hambourne and I wondered what had been going on there since 2013. You can read the Hambourne Chronicles in Hallows and Heretics.