Sunday, June 3, 2012
Sarah, the daughter of my college friends Ann and Greg, has arrived here from Paris for a weeklong stay. She was studying French for a semester at the Sorbonne (!) and now wants to take in a bit of Blighty before returning to the USA. I met her at St. Pancras train station yesterday afternoon, and we went out to dinner at our local pub before coming home and watching the third "Lord of the Rings" movie "on telly," as the British would say. I'm not sure whether that counts as seeing Blighty, but it's a start.
Today we're planning to head down to the river to catch the Queen's Jubilee flotilla. It is indeed raining, but I can stand a little rain. I don't really have much of a plan -- just to take the tube to an area that I think might not be too crowded, and hope for the best.
I have seen the Queen once before. Back in 1991, when I was working as a young reporter in Florida, she came to Tampa on the royal yacht Britannia and visited MacDill Air Force Base, a command center during the first Gulf War. The visit was very tightly controlled and I couldn't get very close to her. There was some sort of reception, but access was restricted and only major regional media were invited -- not my mid-size daily from the next county. So I had to settle for seeing her on the waterfront as she disembarked from Britannia, greeted local officials, waved to the throngs and got into her limo for the ride to the base. I then raced ahead to a different part of town to catch a closer glimpse of the passing car.
From my journal on May 28, 1991:
"I have done some fun stuff. On May 20, for instance, Queen Elizabeth II visited Tampa and I covered the visit. It was great fun. I actually saw her face fairly close to me as she rode by in her limousine, waving out the windows. She looked really neat -- very stately and dignified."
Oh, brother -- "really neat" was the best I could do?! Fortunately I offered more description in my published article, mentioning her yellow floral print dress and trademark white gloves, her diminutive stature and the enthusiasm of the crowd. I used that article as a clip for a while, submitting it to potential employers as one of my best. But then I read it recently and thought, "You know, this isn't that good!" Which is hopefully a sign that I have progressed.
(Photo: A vaguely royalty-related shot from Camden, last Wednesday.)