“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with cwuh and fuh” says my five year old sister as we sit on the picnic blanket with our mother waiting patiently (or so my memory tells me) for Her Majesty the Queen to arrive in our local seaside town for one of many walkabouts in the year of her silver jubilee – 1977. Mum had made us matching white dresses in the hope that this would attract Her Majesty over to us. This strategy sadly did not pay off. But nonetheless, I can remember the radiant Queen walking relatively nearby, clutching beautiful flowers, waving, smiling, as she continues to do now.
As for “cwuh and fuh”? It was ‘Queen and Philip’ of course. My sister was and has always been inventive.
And that rather magical event was my first ‘encounter’ with Her Majesty. I have had a number of others from a similar distance since. Mr Tracks and I have been most fortunate to attend Royal Garden parties at both Buckingham Palace in London, and at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. We have attended a State Opening of Parliament. And one of the concerts I performed in with the BBC Symphony Chorus at London’s Royal Albert Hall was a prom concert in Her Majesty’s honour to mark her golden jubilee.
As you can see, I’m pretty much related these days 🙂 So I could not help but give Her Majesty a nod when reaching Q for Queen in my musical alphabet.
But I really should turn to the other Queen that I am supposed to be writing about – that massive superstar world-beating rock group which could never be the same since Freddie Mercury died.
I’ve got lots of music by Queen – I really like their stuff. What pioneers they were. Such variety of musical genres. Such quality. It’s been a fabulous nostalgia trip listening to their Greatest Hits albums alone.
Unfortunately, however, they were responsible for putting me off attending major musical concerts from a relatively young age.
When they were on their ‘A Kind of Magic’ tour, I went with some friends to see them live at Knebworth, which is one of these massive outdoor venues in the grounds of a stately home. Looking at the Wiki entry about this tour, I see that it was Queen’s last, in 1986, before Freddie died in 1991. I also see that this was their biggest tour ever (which was saying something), and that our show was the finale of the whole thing. I don’t think I knew this at the time, or perhaps I did and have forgotten because of what actually happened while we were there.
Everything was fine in the build up to the concert itself while we were chatting, eating, etc. But when Queen were due to come on, everyone stood up and starting throwing the remains of their picnics in some kind of communal food fight. And there was a mega-push towards the front so that we were kind of trapped body to body with whoever was next to us. My abiding memory of the event was being covered in yoghurt and not being able to get to the toilet. I was worried about losing my friends and could not imagine how on earth we would find our way back out of there again. I have no recollection at all of seeing Queen themselves.
I guess some people might find this fun, amusing and adventurous. Not me – I’m clearly the white-dress-I-spy-playing type of person. And if this has meant that my life has gone in the direction of formal ceremonial occasions, rather than, ahem, more informal, events, then so be it. We all have our picnics to bear.