The great excitement today was the River pageant. Apart from the magnificent Royal boats there were around 1000 small craft following. Some of these boats had come from overseas, for example, there was a huge gondola from Venice. However, undoubtedly the most important of these little ships were the 39 survivors from the magnificent rescue of our forces from the beaches in Dunkirk in 1940. Something like 350,000 British personnel were saved by 1000 or so of these little boats, rescuing them from the beach and either putting them in the larger ships which could not get close enough to the shore, alternatively, going straight back to the UK before returning once more to France to rescue a few more troops..
On one of this flotilla was our very own Harriet, of Ross Nursing. Try as we may we never actually picked her out, however, I’m sure, from her bed point of view, this is an experience that she will never ever forget.
It is such a pity that the weather was not little kinder. Although not cold. It was rather overcast and drizzly but the magnificence of the Royal barges and boats all decked out, in bunting and accompanied by an orchestra, in one of the Royal boats, all contributed to making this a magical interlude. I think the last time there had been anything like this sort of procession on the Thames was when Handel was commissioned by George I. in 1717 to compose some appropriate water music for a concert on the Thames. One must remember that, in those days, the Thames was far more important in terms of moving about London rather than using any of the roads, particularly as the only bridge over the Thames, at that time, was London Bridge. The king was so delighted with the effect that he had the music played three times during the procession. I must admit it would be rather fun to be in the crowd watching the procession but as the organiser of the whole event, said recently asked where would you suggest would be a good place to watch the procession from, replied in front of your television set!
I suppose the only disappointment from our point of view, sitting in the comfort and warmth of our own home was the failure of the music to impact as we had expected. There was so much other employees accompanying the pageant that the music from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which I understand was to play some of Handel’s Water Music was completely lost on us. As rather be half a dozen or so bells on another branch or boat, which will run continuously during the pageant.
There were two magnificent red velvet (?) thrones mounted in the centre of this new Royal boat our dear Queen chose to stand for 2 ½. hours rather than grace these magnificent seats. He stood behind the throne, almost as if she was an observer and not the principal attraction.
As I said earlier every city, town, village and hamlet had their own celebrations and our village, Clavering was no exception. Despite the weather the organisers continued with the programme they had worked so hard to put together over the last year or so.
Diamond Jubilee Weekend
08.00 Church Service at Saint Mary and Saint Clements.
10.00 Opening of Diamond Jubilee Nature Trail.
10.30 ‘Royal’ Teddy Bears Picnic.
11.00 Royal British Legion’ Mini Olympics’.
11.00 Open Doubles Tennis Tournament.
12.30 Judging of ‘The Great Clavering Bake-off, Village Hall
13.00 Grand Village Picnic
14.00 Open Bowls Tournament
14.00 Clavering Cricket Club v the Arkesden Cricket Club on Hill Green
15.00 Friendly Rounders Games
16.30 Traditional dancing in the village Hall.
18.00 Hog Roast and Barbeque available at Fox & Hounds, Public House.
This, after Clavering launched its activities yesterday with a Village Walk. By all accounts the village managed to stage most of the programme are one or two events were simply not possible in the pouring rain, but others took place in the shelter of farm barns.
As a nice touch the local Parish Council are giving every child up to the age of 11, who resides in the village, a Diamond Jubilee Commemoratives Mug.
Needless to say it was not possible for Alice and I to participate in any event, village events but did the next best thing and watched the flotilla of 1000 boats and ships pass up and down the Thames, on television.
The Queen’s new boat, built to commemorate the event, with its proliferation of gold gilding justified its central role. Fortunately, the rain held off until majority of the procession of little boats, had passed the Queens barge and then in true British style, the skys opened and it bucketted down.
Only disappointment was the music. We had expected yesterday a more dominant role. Sadly, we could not really hear the music or the bells. 20 members of the The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were engaged in play, predictably predictably amongst other things, Handel’s Water Music written for 400 years ago for a similar River pageant ever I alarmed George I.
One of the highlights of the modern-day pageant, was the raising of the drawbridge on Tower Bridge to its maximum vertical height 80°, in salute to the Queen.
Before all these excitements had started, my brother-in-law John Garton Jones and wife Anne, dropped in mid-morning for coffee but did not stay long as their visit was cut short by the arrival of my 12 o’clock carer. I’m glad to say that John, 80 looked in pretty good shape, as indeed did Anne, who is a mere 10 years younger. They generously brought me a bottle of champagne, I think the word has got out about this being my favourite tipple and I shall do nothing to dissuade friends and family who wish to perpetuate this, fast, becoming a legend.
Having had our fill of the Diamond Anniversary Celebrations for one day, we watched a couple of hours of television before retiring. Having said that, I’m sure, in earlier days, we would have been delighted to have joined, a great number of other villagers, who enjoyed the Hog Roast at The Fox and Hounds.