Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Running in the family

I didn't watch the coronation on Saturday morning. I was watching my nephew playing for Heath Park Rangers under six team on the Cardiff  University Sports Fields. What a treat to see Seb score the first goal in his new yellow birthday Erling Haaland boots! Talking to his father, I couldn't shut up even for two minutes, but things were happening one after another that flashed me back to memories of Ben playing football and rugby when he was a little boy. Seb's birthday was on Friday, and his party was due in the afternoon; Free running with Nerf guns.  I started to wish I could go and join in the fun in that as well.

I found myself getting quite sentimental as I drove through Llanrumney as I was reminded of the years I spent on buses up and down Newport Road going to and from school. Looking at the website, I see that 2013 is St Illtyd's centenary. It is quite sobering to realise I started there almost exactly fifty of those hundred years ago.

More nostalgia, if you can be nostalgic about something that happened before you were born. Dad was doing his National Service in the RAF when the Queen was crowned. He was selected to be one of the servicemen lining the route because, he told me, he was one of the few at his base tall enough to meet the height requirements. He was a bit taller than me but not over lofty. Average people are much bigger these days.

He was bivouacked in Hyde Park, but said it was great: "like being on holiday." From the procession on the day itself, he remembered Princess Margaret being very beautiful and being particularly taken with the vivacious and cheerful Queen of Tonga.

It rains heavily in Tonga, in the warm South Pacific. Thus it did not seem unusual to Tonga's Queen Salot that it should be raining in London on coronation day. Instead of withdrawing into the shelter of her coach like most notables in the long procession from Westminster Abbey, Queen Salote sat in the drenching downpour, a massive (6 ft. 3 in., 280 Ibs.), broad-faced woman in red robes and a headdress from which two feathers stuck stiffly upright; she beamed, waved, mopped rain from her face with a handkerchief, beamed again. The soaked, footsore crowd who had waited interminable hours to see the procession instantly warmed to Queen Salote. 

 After the procession she hurried back to her house in Weymouth Street, took off her soaked gown (made from the bark of a hibiscus tree), had a hot bath and went to bed. Later she told newsmen that she loved the British weather. "The public was as wet as I, and we were both enjoying ourselves . . . Oh, it was marvelous. The greatest day ever." Wrote the London Daily Telegraph: "Few visitors can ever have endeared themselves so widely and so speedily."

No comments: