Sunday, June 03, 2012
Tradition, Continuity, London, and good cheer...
...making a grand day. Crowds at the local station, cramming on to trains. In London, I headed for Mass at St Patrick's, Soho Square. Glorious music, especially the Panis Angelicus after Communion, beautifully sung...after Mass, there is usually a great gathering for coffee and buns, but today most people were heading elsewhere, just as I was. "Off to see Her Maj?" asked Fr Alexander, and yes, that's just what I was doing.Tube to Charing Cross and then I walked down Whitehall to see the Chere Reine. Crowds teeming everywhere, Westminster Bridge packed tight...I finally settled, along with hundreds and hundreds of others, in the gardens next to Parliament. Ideal place. As people found spaces and opened packets of sandwiches, the atmosphere was just as I remember it from Cofton Park during the Pope's visit in 2010 - friendly, chattery,damp, wonderful. A vast TV screen brought us the scenes further up-river as the Royal family arrived and the great flotilla gathered...when the Queen appeared, everyone broke into cheers and whistles and applause, and for the next two hours it was all a party atmosphere, and very delightful. London at its best - damp grass, grey skies, no actual rain and everyone being friendly. When the boats and barges reached our stretch of the river we all stood and cheered like anything. Then, queues for the loos,followed an orderly trudge out into Millbank and the surrounding streets, and the rain started to hurtle down just as I was heading towards Victoria Station. Found refuge in Westminster Cathedral, to be greeted by a pic. of the Queen - she's on the front page of the current Cathedral magazine (which incidentally also has a feature by Auntie in it). Then on home...donning my emergency plastic-poncho-left-over-from-the-Papal-visit when the rain really got ferocious as I left our local station. I wonder whether there will ever be a Royal event like this again? The Britain of today is so utterly different from the one the Queen inherited in 1952, but sitting in the Parliament gardens on the damp grass I did feel a sense of continuity and familiarity. The screaming violence of last summer's riots, the routine drunkeness and vomiting and shrieking of summer evenings in our suburban shopping centres, the bleak adoption of formalised slogans in place of sincere discussion on crucial social and moral issues, all slipped away for a while, and we were just ordinary friendly people enjoying solidarity and a sense of shared patriotism.
Posted by Joanna Bogle at 6:38 pm