Mum is enthralled with watching a repeat of the the royal wedding, but thinks the venue is rather odd.
“It’s a bit of a knockdown place don’t you think?” sniffs my Mum. A knockdown place Mum? I’m not sure what you mean. “Knockdown, you know!” She’s sounding fractious, so I don’t pursue it.
“Do you like her dress Mum?”
“It needs more pearls and frilly stuff, but it’s pretty enough and I like her necklace”
“Ah Mum – I think you mean neckline. I don’t think she’s wearing a necklace”
“Harry looks sweet though. You met him didn’t you?”
“I met Prince Edward Mum”.
“Did you wear a necklace at your wedding?”.
“It was a very old mother-of-pearl necklace, Mum”
“Did I like it?”
“Yes Mum, you did”
“You’ve met Prince Harry haven’t you?”
“Prince Edward, Mum, but it was many years ago”
Actually, the Prince Edward story is quite funny in itself. All she did was to write to him afterwards, but we never had an answer and this is probably why. Way, way back when I was a trainee producer for BBC Radio Light Entertainment, we produced a huge celebration of radio by staging a special concert at Earl’s Court with one Prince Edward as the guest of honour at the supper prior to the LIVE concert which went out on Radio 2, 3 and 4. My role was to engage the acts and organise all the visuals. What actually happened was that the Executive Producer asked if there was anything I thought we should add and I piped up that there was a huge video wall on either side of the screen, so why didn’t we use it? I should have kept my mouth shut. After all this was radio. Still, the guests were going to watch a spectacular concert, so they needed to be entertained in the best possible way – what with there being a royal prince there and everything. So, my life was all about sourcing high def pictures to accompany the music numbers and cabaret, old stock photos of the BBC through history and a few shots of BBC special events. Come the day of the rehearsal I realised that to operate the audio visual screens, I had to climb a vertical ladder about 30 foot high behind the audience section and walk along a metal gantry. OK, that’s going to be fine, as I don’t mind heights. Our guests on the night were Frankie Howard, the BBC Concert Orchestra, a tap dancing troupe (don’t ask, yes I know … RADIO !!!) and various posh singers. What I’d failed to remember was that I would be in full evening dress, but I managed the climb up the gantry to be in position well before the guests started assembling. Frankie Howard, of course, over-ran by 10 minutes, so it was all a bit of a scramble to get everything in. Luckily the networks allowed the over-run and broadcast the whole thing. Phew! We’d made it and everyone was cheering. It was my time to come back down and join the party, so I started the perilous descent. Not so easy in a long frock as you can imagine, so there was nothing more for it than to lift up the long velvet skirt to make sure nothing tripped me up. I looked down to check where I was and saw the Executive producer frantically waving UP, UP signs. What did he mean, UP, UP? I was on my way down. I tried one more step down to then see him making a dramatic CUT, CUT mime across his neck. He obviously wanted me to stop, so I did. Hung mid air, on a vertical ladder, skirt in hand, trembling on a thin rung. I looked down again to see the whole audience looking up in horror. You know that scene in The Producers when the audience first clock “Spring Time for Hitler”? It was a bit like that. I know that I was in a dangerous position, but they didn’t need to be so worried about me! It was then I realised that I was descending the ladder that was positioned right behind Prince Edward’s seat. He hadn’t moved yet, so that whole audience was waiting for his signal so get up from the concert. And what did they see? Me, legs showing, balanced like a tragic trapeze act about 10 feet above his head. Hmmmm … what to do? Luckily, Prince Edward moved quite quickly, clocking me and the audience. I was introduced to him at the after show party and I think I tried a curtsy, I can’t quite remember, but he said, with a huge grin, “Ah yes, I’ve seen you before haven’t I? You obviously don’t have a fear of heights.” I told Mum that story and she laughed a lot. Then she told me that she was going to write to Prince Edward to see if he was single and wanted to marry me. No amount of protesting on any level would have got through to her.
Back to the royal wedding viewing.
“It’s a very happy occasion isn’t it, Mum?”
“Yes, but very knock-down.” I can’t get to the bottom of what she means, but the only thing I can think is that the commentators were saying how well British royal weddings do Pomp and A-list guests, maybe she thought they were talking about Pompeii – one of the places she’s always wanted to visit. Knockdown is Mum’s words for ruins.
I could tell you stories about all the letters she’s written to the royal family, but the blog would last forever. One that got a lovely response was that Her Majesty The Queen was very touched by the gift that Mum left at Buckingham Palace and that the she would share the chocolates with her family at Christmas. And I bet you something – Mum would have worked an extra week’s late shifts to buy super posh chocolates for The Queen. She’s like that.