London, Observatory

Last night we went to a party in a house just off Trafalgar Square, and at midnight we walked back down the centre of the Mall to Buckingham Palace. I’m not much for pageantry but there was something ethereally graceful about seeing the great mall in full flag colours, softly lit, with people strolling about and a very low police presence.

At the party I’d met Canadians who had flown over with fancy dress outfits from Toronto, and here I am, living approximately 2 miles from the event (the helicopters I can see on TV can also be seen from my window), barely bothering to turn on the TV.

British life is punctuated with these TV events, in which obsequious presenters commentate over shots of empty tarmac. I remember the whole family watching Winston Churchill’s funeral, Prince Charles’s investiture, Diana’s wedding and funeral, and a hundred other events, and take it all for granted – a church, a balcony, a planned route, long-shots of bishops, a surfeit of hats, cheering flack-bedecked mums, a communal tapestry in which the public sew the stitches.

I watched the wedding with Shelley Von Strunckel, who kindly cracked the champagne for a bit of pageantry. Beautifully filmed by the BBC, it sadly featured no Daleks, which is a shame as the Dalek has existed in the background of British life almost as long as the Queen, and makes an appropriate tribute.

5 comments on “Exterminate!”

  1. Vickie Farrar says:

    Without such breaktaking, all-encompassing royal circumstances in the U.S., some of us Across the Pond delight in being part of a real-time viewing audience for a wedding such as Kate & William’s. In my time zone, I needed to be awake from 2:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. in order to see all from The Queen leaving Buckingham Palace through the newlyweds departing the balcony. And it was absolutely worth it…especially spotting Sir Elton John and his partner LIVE in the church audience. Lovely way to start a weekend. And, FYI, no Disappearing Dalek Despair emanated from my household.

  2. madmary says:

    I thought I was immune from the wedding of two strangers. I ended up advising a client at a police station all day and found myself wondering if I could ask the custody sergeant whether they had a tv out the back. Felt I couldn’t. I had a short break at lunch and found I’d missed the moment. When I returned my client who is facing a rather grim immediate future asked me “are they married yet”. Funny how these things catch the imagination even in very dire circumstances.

    No daleks at the police station.


  3. I.A.M. says:

    Slept. Until 8:45 am. Felt little need to awake at 1:00 AM to begin watching
    The Great Leaving of The Palace (which is far smaller than you think from the photos; it’s the size of a garden shed, really), never mind continuing to watch until 5:30 AM for the kiss. Apparently the CBC newscaster Peter Mansbridge (who clearly hadn’t been giving much of a rat’s ass during most of the proceedings) said, as the couple left the balcony, “stay tuned for the next 90 minutes of coverage”, which made many wonder what that hour-and-a-half might contain? Slo-Mo replays? Analysis of the defensive techniques employed by the two teams/families on the field?

  4. I.A.M. says:

    One last thing: last night’s desire for Things English was satisfied by finally watching Billy Liar, with the glowing Julie Christie. My God she was hot!

  5. Gretta says:

    I wilfully avoided all of it, only to go onto Facebook and discovered that almost all of my friends had gone barmy. ack!

    I.A.M – I watched Billy Liar for the first time not long ago, and I loved it. Tom Courtney was brilliant, and Julie Christie was indeed (and still is) drop-dead gorgeous.

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