The week before the Jubilee I wasn’t feeling terribly patriotic. Work was piling up around my ears, the house was looking increasingly like a squat and the idea of a long bank holiday weekend feeding into the half term with no additional childcare was enough to bring me out in hives, or rather miniature boils. I still have them, like a pearl necklace without the cachet, or the certificate of authenticity.
What I also had was an invite to spend Jubilee with a lifelong Londoner and committed worshipper of all things Royal.
Burying my bah humbug cloak of doom in a box in the garden I gratefully accepted, bundling the children, their scooters and a giant stuffed dog into the back of the car on Saturday night for a rain-soaked trip into London.
After a slight curfuffle at Chelsea bridge – pretty sure I was allowed to turn right at that time – we arrived late to a bunting bedecked street in South London and to friends worrying that they may not have gone quite overboard enough. (They had). An all-too-short night’s sleep spent on blow up beds and hand-sewn quilts was followed with croissants and home made pancakes. Nom, as one would say.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, my childrens’ beloved dog now resides with the pancake maker. She may have been slightly confused by our presence but was obviously happy to see us all. She’s generally happy to see anyone truth be told, but the children loved it. A long walk on a dewy common on Sunday morning highlighted my very poor planning skills – both girls only had strappy sandals with them and the 10yo soaked his only pair of jeans skidding off his scooter in the skate park. This was not ideal for a wet weekend of walking.
Our Jubilee schedule hit a brick wall when the 5yo and then the 7yo refused to leave the house to go to Battersea Park. There may have been an iota of seething at that point. Cuddles on the sofa and bribery eventually persuaded them that it would be fun to catch up with the others, and we made our way down.
The festival atmosphere in Battersea Park could only have been improved by a generous wave of sunshine. We watched huge screens depicting the arrivals of the Royals and oohed and aahed at every moment. A very confident man with a very loud voice encouraged us all to sing the national anthem, and so we did. Well the first verse – they really should provide subtitles if they want anyone to go beyond that.
Just as we reached the tipping point where cold, bored and hungry kids could have turned feral, we made the decision to wend our way and spend ridiculous amounts of money on food. As you do. The rain saw to it that only the most gung-ho street partiers attempted to stand out in the rain, but the site of a London street cleared of cars was really quite poignant.
An evening on the sofa, a blanket over my knee, wood fire burning, gin & Dubonnet in hand and I was as close to our monarch as I’d been all day. Bliss.
Monday, and there was more to come. We beat the crowds to St James’ Park where six kids snaked on scooters up the Mall. We ate our picnic of sausages, crisps and carrot sticks sat on pac-a-macs and followed up with ice creams and more attempts to run over the toes of as many Londoners as possible. Surprisingly few raised eyebrows were exchanged, due entirely to the benevolent mood of the nation.
Back for dinner, of which the Jubilee cake was the undoubted highlight and a swift search of the house to recover the contents of the suitcase. Driving west into a beautiful sunset, safe in the knowledge that the children’s memories wouldn’t include any of the boredom or wingeing they so vocally pronounced. Jubilee had been a triumph.
But one was bloody freezing Ma’am. Maybe some of those nice patio heaters they use in pub gardens next time?