diamond geezer

 Friday, August 31, 2007

The Guards ChapelThe Guards Chapel: Outside the Wellington Barracks, on the southern fringe of St James's Park, an ever increasing crowd has gathered. We gawp across Birdcage Walk, past a wall of staring white-shirted policemen, to the steps of the chapel beyond. An almighty cheer greets the arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, their limo perfectly timed to be not quite late. At 12 noon precisely the service begins, relayed to those of us outside through a handful of loudspeakers. Comforting choral musics washes across the road, which we struggle to hear beneath the racket of helicopter blades from above. Some have brought with them orders of service printed from the internet and join in with each hymn in faltering soprano. Others are less subdued and get shushed as they chatter. With undignified irreverence the crowd around me erupts into applause at the end of Prince Harry's tribute speech, like a mob of emotional barbarians. I'm embarrassed by their lack of stiff upper lip and slink off to leave others to their remembrance. I leave them singing Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer into any lens a TV crew dares to point at them. Diana may have been dead for a decade, but her lingering influence remains unextinguished. And me, I'm heading out of the park and off shopping. It's what she would have wanted.
posted 12:37

Hyde Park Corner: A brief frenetic interlude from the remainder of this delightful parkland walk. The walkway cuts through the middle of this six lane roundabout, past grand statuary and Antipodean war memorials. A trail of fresh horse manure marks the path that Diana's coffin trod, beneath the Wellington Arch and on to Westminster Abbey. As then, the police have sealed off Constitution Hill to all but royal traffic. Four black limousines cavalcade past, at funereal speed. I make the mistake of trying to photograph them, rather than looking to see who they actually contain. I have more luck standing in the crowds outside Buckingham Palace. Princess Anne and Peter Phillips are driven by, followed a minute later by Prince Charles. Through the half-open car window he looks every inch the not quite grieving husband, and rather older than I remember. Round the corner, the memorial service is about to begin.
posted 11:57

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial FountainDiana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain: Whatever its detractors may say, this loop of grey Cornish granite has a genuine tranquil charm. On sunny summer afternoons you'll find happy families all around the perimeter and legs a-plenty dangling in the water. This morning, however, is pre-autumnal and overcast, and the enclosure is nigh empty. A pair of Japanese tourists attempt to take photos whilst keeping each other out of shot. The only child present - an angelic ringletted girl - dares to stand on the granite sill and is glared at by a watchful attendant. Her finger prods "Sit Down Now!" There are just two floral tributes here, petrol station bought, laid beneath an immature sapling at the water's edge. The fountain gurgles, and prays for sunshine.
posted 11:29

Serpentine Gallery: I'm taking a brief spiralling diversion up around the edge of Eliasson's 2007 Pavilion. This is a temporary wooden helix with a tearoom in the middle and parkland views from the top. A must-climb, any time between now and November.
posted 11:06

Kensington Palace gatesKensington Palace: A crowd has gathered outside the gilded iron gates. It's not quite as big a crowd as that fateful morning ten years ago, and there are far fewer floral tributes, but it's a respectable turnout all the same. The laminators of Middle England have been busy overnight. All along the railings are weatherproofed photographs of the princess, lovingly handmade banners (Diana Forever) and printouts of conspiracy webpages. There are also several fawning mawkish poems, written by emotional matrons with too much time on their hands and too little literary talent. The crowds stop to read, and take photos of each. On one bench the Diana Circle have set up court, and are playing "Time To Say Goodbye" from a tinny speaker. And all around hover the intrusive lenses of the world's media. They poke their TV cameras at anyone who expresses any form of emotion, maybe pinning their bouquet to the railings or just standing in silent contemplation. Even a decade later, the media are still on Diana's back.
posted 10:40

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground: It's a little bit too early for a spin on the roundabout or a scramble over the pirate ship. Gates to this adventure utopia don't open until ten. But there are already mums and pushchairs massing round the entrance, peering inside the tree-trunk birdcage and gobbling down muffins from the cafe nextdoor. There's an age limit of 12 years and under, so none of these children will remember the flawed mother whose death inspired this mega-playground's construction. A sign on the gate reads "No adults without children". I feel excluded and unwelcome but take heart from the fact that, were she alive today, even Diana herself wouldn't officially be allowed inside.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream