by Alan Watkins
It can't be 59 years since the coronation – I remember it as though it was yesterday, for goodness’ sake.
It was a sunny day. The road was full of bunting and flags, and our council house was covered in St George’s flags. The local paper came along and took a photo of our house.
Dad had the day off and we had a new addition to the lounge – the first TV in the street. It had a 9in screen enclosed in a massive wooden cabinet, and all the furniture was re-arranged so that we sat with our backs to the window.
Well, we sat there for a short time, until the neighbours began to arrive. They all pushed their way into the house and sat on the seats until there were no spares. Then they sat on the arms of chairs, the floor, or simply stood as the TV flickered into life.
The curtains quickly had to be closed: you couldn’t see the blue and grey picture of the carriage as it made its way towards the Abbey. The sun burned the picture, which was full of snow from the poor reception from an aerial about 100 miles away in Wenvoe, near Cardiff.
The sandwiches and cakes, biscuits and drinks were soon being picked over, and just as quickly my friends and I became bored with the pretty young queen and the droning of the Archbishop, Dr Geoffrey Fisher.
Lots of shushes greeted protests about comfort (or lack of it), boredom and wasted opportunities. In fact we were turned off. We went into the back garden for a kickaround to the echoes of “Vivat! Vivat!”
It was much better to climb the wall, ride a bike, fight over the game rules, throw stones, and do what kids do when they are five and six years old.
Yet if we thought that was it, we were sadly mistaken.
Some time later – it may have been days or weeks, but it was certainly another sunny summer day – we all flocked to the city park. That was because our Queen and her handsome Duke were visiting us.
Most of my chums were in the park, but mum and dad opted to wait outside so we could see them when they arrived and left. We might have done – I don’t remember anything but flags. There were swings on the far side of the park.
I wasn’t allowed to go there, and instead was stuck in a crowd of sweaty people.
At last the coronation was over… or so I thought. Back at school in September we were suddenly ushered into the hall with our parents as guests, the curtains once more closed on a perfect Indian summer’s day, and we sat on unyielding benches to watch the coronation repeated.
It was enough to turn toddlers to republicanism! At least the film was in colour, but it went on, and on, and on.
Was it almost 60 years ago? Where have the boys in their thick woollen shorts and buttoned-up shirts gone? Those that scrapped in the sun – Ronnie and the two Peters, Alistair, Clive and the brainy brat across the road? Several are dead, the rest scattered to the winds.
I shall celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in the garden. I’ve seen too much pomp and majesty to thrill over it.
But, God Bless Her, she’s not been a bad monarch.