So Queenie went to Ireland this week. The Queen is a lady that is there for looking at. Day after day she travels the world so that we, the people can look at her. I’ve looked at her twice. Once as a young child I was taken to the bottom of the road to look at her as she passed. We were all there, hoards of council house kids, to wait for a huge, shiny car. I was bemused, I knew that Queens were very important people and we were supposed to curtsey. When the car drew closer I was vaguely aware that a yellow hat was there, and then, and then . . . I gathered my full, knee length skirt into wings, looked down, and slowly bent my knee. Rising upwards, still very slowly as practiced, I just spotted . . . the back of a yellow hat, as the car wheeled on down the road. At six years old, that was my look at Queenie.
The next forty years flew by in a whiz of not looking at Queenie, except on the telly where she often wore yellow. Daffodil, primrose, lemon, mustard – English of course, sunshine and acid. With never more than a linear foot of leg showing at the hem of her signature dress and coat, hands gloved in white, and a head and neck shaped cubic foot of person, showing between collar and hat.
The barriers were up outside the railway station. Queenie and her Royal Train would arrive at 11am so I could choose between leaving my office building across the road to ‘look at the Queen’, or, sit at my desk and work. Of course I couldn’t resist seeing if she matched the sunshine, so off I went to stand behind the barrier with the rest of the huge crowd of twenty. Now in those four spent decades we had both got older Queenie and I, and there was even less chance that she would recognise me and wave, without her specs. I squinted across the forecourt at a flash of yellow that scooted from door to car. She may be a lady for looking at, but I didn’t have my specs either.