Welcome to Bennett's World: a collection of articles and references covering a wide variety of topics in which I am involved. I am a very political person but I have no allegiance to any political party. Follow me on twitter @colinhove

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Musings on visit to Royal Garden Party on 15 July 2008

Regular readers (both of you) may remember that Alice and I visited the Palace during the summer just gone. This is a more or less (perhaps more less than more) account of that pleasant day. In a posting below you will see some photos of us before we parted from Hove that day. In the next couple of weeks I will try to upload at least part of a purchased video made that day (by professionals) onto this blog. PS I'm going to Normandy for a few days from 3 October and will report on that in due course. Colin Bennett, Hove A Day to Remember. Consider this happy domestic scene: Alice, my reader, is typing away at my computer and I am bossily dictating. Such a heart-warming scene of bliss. Suddenly "brrrrr-brrrrr!". It is Dr Tony Best on the line. Tony was the Chief Executive of Sense and he wondered if I would like to represent Sense at the Royal Garden Party to be held on 15 July 2008. Tony was due to leave Sense later that summer and I suppose he felt he could be a bit reckless. I agreed and Tony said I could bring a companion. As I have no wife, live-in lover, concubine, courtesan, paramour or straightforward girlfriend I was a bit stuck! I thought I would have to rustle up a woman friend or perhaps the barmaid at The Royal Oak. However, I heard a little rustle and I turned and there was Alice, lips parted and with eyes gleaming. I sensed that she would like to come and silently I gestured to her "would you like to go?!". A squeak indicated assent. I had not known until that moment that Alice was a Royalist, although she doesn't go over the top; she seldom curtsies to me. What to wear? Readers maybe surprised to learn that I have a nice suit but strangely it's growing smaller. So I went along to Savile Row or rather the Hove branch which is known as Hove Red Cross shop. Amazingly, they had a smashing light-weight suit which fitted me like a glove. The ladies thought it was just the thing for the Garden Party and asked if I had a nice shirt to go with it. I told them I had plenty but they ignored that and produced an Italian silky job. Although I had many ties they insisted that I purchased this "special one". I was thus fully equipped for twenty quid (that's absolutely true). And now to Alice. Ladies are required to wear hats and so this was an excuse for her to buy one. She bought a floppy pink one with masses of oriental fruit atop with a squirrel draped down the back. Fortunately before the Big Day the fruit was eaten and the squirrel escaped so we did not create the sensation I had feared. The Big Day arrived with a threat of rain; it had been a damp week. However, the day turned out to be the sunniest and warmest for many weeks. I was eager to see if I could travel to London on my new free bus pass. It worked: We travelled to Victoria where we met Margaret Pickess and her daughter Ros. We all looked stunning and the crowds applauded us. There was a long queue outside Buckingham Palace but the sun was shining so.....no problem. Alice was a bit disappointed that we were all given very perfunctory searches but we all looked so respectable. We made our way to some open-air tables and queued up at the refreshment marquee for goodies. To my astonishment, the sandwiches were not square-cut. There was no alcohol but we were happy with the apple juice and iced coffee. I was content to sit by the band-stand listening to the military band playing Glen Miller numbers but Alice is made of sterner stuff. She made a good circuit of the gardens and reported back. I think she was glad to be free of me for awhile. The non-triangular sandwiches played on my mind. I button-holed the Queen and pointed out that as a loyal subject, I did expect triangular sandwiches and a bit of booze. She apologised profusely and invited Alice and myself to her Hospitality Marquee. There she plied us with exquisite sandwiches, all cut at 45 degrees, on silver plate and lashings of champagne and Pimms. HM sat there regally (a redundant word perhaps) drinking tea while her guests slipped slowly under the table. At 6pm two flunkey's arrived and scraped Alice and myself off the floor and into a Rolls-Royce. We were driven directly home to Hove. At Croydon, I woke up and noticed some peasants waiting for a bus on the kerb. I asked the chauffeur if he would drive at speed in the gutter and spray them with dirty puddle water. I've always wanted to do this as I have been a victim myself. The chauffeur was very pleased to do it and sped onto Hove. When we arrived home Alice and I were completely blotto what with the excitement the heat and the alcohol. Gently the footmen carried us inside, put us in our jim-jams and made us cups of Ovaltine. Two days later I received a very heavy envelope. It was from the Queen apologising again for the square sandwiches begging me to receive a hamper daily for the next year. Sure enough the hamper has arrived every day (except Sunday) and as I write this I am enjoying the contents. The day was very successful and although my memory may have played some tricks on me it was a day to remember. On a personal note, I found it very easy to hear people with whom I conversed on the day because we were in the open air with no walls to reflect sound. Also as most of the participants were middle aged and middle class they spoke clearly which is always a boon to me. I did find the Palace itself a bit dark but the largest private garden in London was splendid, especially for tree-freaks like Alice and myself.


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