I AM not really the patriotic type, but over the last few days I have discovered a part of me which really rather likes all the pomp and circumstance which seems to be everywhere currently.
I was one of those who only ever sang “God Save the Queen” if it was in an ironic Sex Pistols sort of way; turning my back on everything it meant to be British and in love with the Monarchy.
Most of this probably stemmed from my up bringing with my mother’s words forever ringing in my ears about “People being born with a silver spoon in their mouths” and “Not knowing a hard day’s work” etc.
When Diana and Charles got married it was all everyone was talking about at school. What would the dress look like, how many bridesmaids would she have and how lucky was she to be marrying the most eligible bachelor in the country?
I really didn’t have much interest in the whole thing at all until one of my friends happened to mention the fact there would be horses. Heaps of them - all trotting gracefully down the Mall. Well I wasn’t going to miss that.
We didn’t have a television in those days but even if we had I feel sure that my mother would have refused to tune it into the big day. Instead I made sure I got invited to one of our neighbours’ homes so I could catch a glimpse of the beautiful horses I had been promised. And it was worth waiting for. In fact, the whole thing gripped me as soon as I started to watch it and not just because of the horses. I was only eight years old so as you can imagine the churchy bits were of no interest, but I was enthralled by the whole pageantry of the day. I relished the sense of order and attention to detail.
I still didn’t really have a clue who all the people were that were being fawned over on TV. That same year we were taken to Madam Tussauds where the Royal Family were laid out as if still at the wedding. Although I recognised the Queen, Charles and Diana, I failed completely to be able to identify any of the other members of the Royals.
And more than 20 years later when I was sent as a reporter to cover Princess Margaret’s memorial service in Westminster, I was still at a loss as to who everyone was. Luckily a helpful photographer came to my rescue or I may have had to file a somewhat abridged news story.
Now I am a bit older I do seem to have a bit more knowledge about who is who, but I have found this doesn’t really help me in trying to explain to my own eight-year-old daughter who everyone is and why in the end it actually matters how many in line to the throne they are.
However, a year has made a difference to my daughter. Last year she couldn’t have cared less about the Royal Wedding. But this year she was keen to understand what all the celebrations were about. I remember fondly drinking from Queen Elizabeth II mugs at a Silver Jubilee street party when I was half her age back in 1977. I wanted my children to have similar memories and so we went to a special Jubilee celebration in a local village complete with singers and even a children’s entertainer. And most surprising was the fact my daughter wanted to stand up and sing the national anthem with everyone else at the end.
Sharing an experience like this is something which I know I will never forget and I hope my daughter won’t either.
Being able to share things together as a family and get involved in things which interest all generations is very important to us as a family.
In just over a week the annual month-long Sheffield Children’s Festival, the biggest children’s festival in the UK, returns to the city. Every year there is always at least one or two things which we attend en mass. This year I am particularly looking forward to Camp Cardboard – on June 23rd in the Winter Garden – which is aimed at getting families and kids to make incredible things with boxes. This event will be perfect for us as there is nothing more frustrating on Christmas morning when you discover your offspring playing with the cardboard box that the highly expensive toy you spent hours queueing for came in it.
The Sheffield City Council backed Sheffield Children’s Festival runs from Monday June 18 to Saturday July 14 and programmes are out now detailing exhibitions, performances, workshops and family events at venues across the city. For more information, visit: www.sheffieldchildrensfestival.org