Well that was a week of 2 halves. I was sitting in my seat at the Oval cricket ground watching the rain pulse down when the news began to filter through of the Queen’s failing health. By the time play was abandoned for the day at about 4.30 the senior Royals were flying to Balmoral and you knew this wasn’t good.
I think it was the suddenness that caused the sense of personal grief that hit me. There was no lead in, no time to adjust. Of course, at 96 you knew she didn’t have decades but her mother made it past 100.
She has been ubiquitous, part of everyone’s wallpaper. I never saw her in the flesh, never lined a street or pressed against a railing but her presence was a constant and her constancy an ever present. There’s a silhouette in the national backdrop where once she added colour – and boy dd she add colour with her lilacs and lemons and peaches and pinks. You can’t be beige as a monarch if you need to be easily spotted – I wonder how our new King will address that piece of pragmatic protocol?
The cricket continued on Saturday – everything was too raw for Friday to happen – and there was some debate whether any sport should take place during this period of mourning. The Queen – indeed her whole family – enjoyed their sport and in the end only football cancelled. I’m glad I went. The communal sense of something defining was palpable. Though it was very strange to sing God Save the King for the first time in my life.
The ground was pindrop quiet, sepulchral almost during the minute’s silence and then the applause, continuous and considered. It went on and on, only stopping when the players were in their places and ready to play.
The ground dressed in black, even the scoreboard reflected the moment. And it was sort of back to normal… sort of.
We’ve had a lot of rain too. The garden is perkier, I’ve rediscovered pullovers and anoraks and umbrellas. At last. I promise never to moan about rain again.
Behind all this we also have a new Prime Minister and an eye wateringly large support package to try and take the sting out of the upcoming winter fuel crisis. Right now, that and all politics have disappeared. It won’t last. It mustn’t last but for now there are more momentous things to think on.