Monday, 12th September, 2022

[Day 910]

This morning turned out to be quite a busy morning. I had received an email from a close friend of Meg’s Uncle Ken informing us definitively of the date of her uncles’s funeral in two weeks time today. We thought long and hard about the logistics of our visit and have now decided to make the journey there and back in a single day. One of the factors that lay behind our decision was the fact that en-route to Colwyn Bay, there is a fabulous restaurant set in a country park just off the A55 dual carriage way. This means that if we set off at a reasonable time, we can have a good meal and a rest in a location which we have used on several occasions before. Then, we can progress to the crematorium well fed and refreshed, after which we have the crematorium business at 2.45, a Service of Remembrance in Old Colwyn and a reception to be held in the adjacent Methodist Hall (what a good idea!), after which we can strike for home. With a bit of luck, some of the heavy traffic will be off the motorways by then and Meg can sleep on the way back. The day after the funeral, I am scheduled to go by train to meet our friends in Oxfordshire so I am choosing whichever options turn out to be the least tiring. This morning, we collected our newspaper by car and popped into Waitrose to buy some tea and then hit the road for two more errands. The first of these was to get a parcel into a local ‘One Stop‘ shop which is the preferred method of returning items and this has worked out as intended. I have already had an email telling me that my refund has been issued and is in the system. Finally, I went to the railway station to pick up my railway tickets for my trip to Oxfordshire and this, too, worked without a hitch. Then as it was raining ‘cats and dogs’ we made our way for home and drank our elevenses in front of the TV.

This afternoon after lunch, we were engaged in watching some of the funeral rituals for our departed Queen. The most important event of the day was going to be a procession at a very slow pace from Holyroodhouse to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. This takes place along the ‘Royal Mile’ which is a little steep and narrow in places and I was particularly enthralled by how well the various actors payed their parts. In particular, two policewomen mounted on horseback led off the procecession at a very slow i.e. walking pace, made this slow so that the Queen’s sons and daugther could walk behind the coffin. Evidently, the horses had to progress at a very slow pace and I was praying that nothing would go wrong, which indeed it did not. Then it came to the turn of the pallbearers who have to bear the coffin containing the Queen on their shoulders and having to negotiate steps on the way. One could only admire the concentration on the faces of the young soldiers who must have been thinking to themselves that this was one of the most important moments of their lives when the eyes of the world’s media was upon them and they could not afford to make even a simple mistake or stumble. This too was performed flawlessly and I am sure they were all mightily relieved when they had performed their duties without a hitch. Then there was a special service in St. Giles, not a funeral service, to commemorate the life of the Queen and one is always interested to see what music is played and what symbolism is deployed. For example, the wreath on the Queen’s coffin was made by flowers picked from the Balmoral estate. Afer the service was over, there was an interesting little discussion about the fact that the Queen had actually died in Scotland which is probably the place in which she would ideally wish to die. An official biographer, Penny Junor, was interviewed and she made the interesting point that if the Queen had died at Windsor or at Sandringham, then the whole funeral arrangements would have been so much more London-centric. This way, by dying in Scotland which she loved and where you might say her roots lie (The Queen Mother, a Bowes-Lyon, was an aristrocratic Scottish family), the Scots were well and truly incorporated into the whole of the unfolding rituals.

After yesterday’s political blog, I did a little more research and discovered the following opinion on the ‘Quora’ website. This was an opinion that Macmillan was so keen to stop Rab Butler becoming the Prime Minister because he thought he would far too liberal a prime minister for the Conservative party. At the same time, Reginald Maudling was adjudged to be too ‘light-weight’ and Quinton Hogg too ‘populist’ and hence with a divided parliamentary party (sounds familiar?), Alec Douglas-Home was ‘helped’ to emerge. The whole question now is whether the Queen was badly advised or whether she made a large (and not well publicised) constitutional blunder.