As I sit at the computer this late Tuesday afternoon, typing these words for you, I can hear the rain drumming, like impatient fingers on a biscuit tin, on the roof outside. As you are probably aware, the last four days have been a time of festivity in the UK and across the Commonwealth. It is the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II. Judging from my personal experiences, the long weekend has been a happy time with families, neighbours and friends getting together and numerous events organised to mark the occasion. I am supposed to be attending a Jubilee Scottish dance in our church hall later this evening...a final fling before returning to work in the morning.
There are lots of things that have amazed and amused over the past four days – the number and diversity of boats in the flotilla, the sight of a War Horse puppet rearing in salute above the National Theatre (and the Queen’s evident delight), a water-borne belfry ringing a passage for the craft on the Thames as they made their way to Tower Bridge before being moved to its own resting place in St James’ church (“Wren’s Lantern”) at Garlickhythe in The City of London , the amazing line-up at the concert outside Buckingham Palace, Grace Jones wishing the Queen “happy birthday” after hula-hooping for what seemed an age, the people drawn from across the Commonwealth singing “Sing”, the sight of 70,000 concert attendees stretching along the Mall to Trafalgar Square, the amazing fireworks, Madness on the Palace roof with the brilliant animations projected onto the facade below them, the beacons, the carriage cavalcade, the historic flypast, the feu de joie (only the second time it has occurred in the UK) and the daftness of the busbies being raised in salute, the street parties, the fetes, the services and celebrations. Few can do pomp and circumstance better than the British.
However, one of the things that struck me most (must be because I’m British) was the weather. After the luxurious heat wave of last weekend, the UK was predicted to suffer an almost constant deluge, with the worst of the weather centred on London. Regardless of the threat, people carried on – admittedly, it was a little damp waiting on the riverbank for the flotilla, but, after a harsh downpour shortly before the start, it held off until The Spirit of Chartwell and the majority of the smaller boats had safely reached the end of their journey. For all of the major events the weather seemed to hold off from giving us its worst - the concert evening was near perfect, the rain did not commence until after the carriage parade and flypast. It is June in England and we as a nation would probably have been disappointed if there were no weather glitches, however it would have been worse if the weather forecasts had proved right. Despite the threat the organisers carried out their plans and their efforts paid off.
One of the main learnings I have taken from this long weekend is that it is worth persevering and seeing things through. Even when things look bleak, there is always hope and you should not give up. The Queen herself has been exemplary in her determination in fulfilling her Public Duty. I wouldn’t want her life, but there is no doubt that she has touched the lives of millions and, in her own way, has helped to make the world a better place. Earlier today my family and I took time out to watch The Shawshank Redemption. It is a powerful film about helping others and living life to the full. Today is a brief post as I can hear the drone of bagpipes from the top of the road and need to draw this to a close. I will leave you with a quote from the film that seems to summarise much of the past four days as well as recommending the best approach for the future:
“Get busy living or get busy dying”.
The choice is yours...