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
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14
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    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sunday 27 April (10am-4.30pm)
Perivale Wood Open Day
Annual opening of a bluebell-
infested nature reserve.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
thelondonphile
in the aquarium
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
london daily photo
london reconnections
150 great tube things

read the archive
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv