Overawed by Royal visit

FLAGS were flying, children were cheering and hundreds lined the street.

James Marston

FLAGS were flying, children were cheering and hundreds lined the street.

And I, dear readers, was among them.

All the excitement was, of course, to see our Queen visiting the county to hand out some cash to nice people who did things for our community

And even though you'd think with all the technology available it could be paid straight into their bank accounts, Her Majesty made the effort to fly in from Windsor to dole it out personally -what a nice lady.

As regular readers among you will know, I like the Queen and her ilk and that was why I left my small Felixstowe salon with sea views (distant) and headed west to Bury St Edmunds on Maundy Thursday.

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As you can imagine it was all very colourful.

Her car was huge - bigger than my flat - and she looked lovely.

I'm not sure she knew who I was - as only an almost-celebrity I may not have crossed her radar - though I'm not sure I didn't see her mouth to Philip as she drove past “There's that big boy from the newspaper.”

Anyway, after the service I found myself with the crowds in St Mary's Churchyard. And though the queen didn't slip out half-way through the second hymn for a crafty fag behind a gravestone -can you imagine - she, accompanied by Prince Philip, did do a little walkabout.

The atmosphere was really lovely and judging by the way the coppers were watching the crowd (closely) we thought she might come along and have a word with us.

In the end, she was rather close to me and, dear readers, I was a little bit overawed.

The Queen is lovely in the flesh but when she's standing just a couple of feet in front of you it's quite difficult to know what to say.

I was tempted to ask her if she wouldn't mind giving me her rather fabulous brooch, as it would pay off my mortgage, but decorum got the better of me and by then, thankfully, a gentleman to my right broke the respectful silence by saying it was lovely to see her.

Another lady thanked her for all she has done - which I thought was a very nice thing to say.

She said thank you and moved on to the sound of cheers and clapping.

It fascinates me that here in Britain we go to so much trouble for a little 82-year-old grandmother - but she's the queen and we won't see her like again.

It made me, and all of us there, very proud to be British.

WHAT'S a boutique holiday?

Does it mean a small hotel room? Does it mean cheap?

Is it anything to do with a French shop?

I'm not really sure what it is.

DO you talk to yourself?

I do and I blame living alone.

I often discuss things with myself such as “I must put a wash on” and “Look at the state of my surfaces, I must whip round with a duster.”

At least I'm having a conversation with someone interesting - just a shame it's about housework.

MY theatrical friends at the Ipswich most Operatic and terribly Dramatic Society (IODS) had the most terribly dramatic surprise the other evening when West End Star John Barrowman walked into a Tuesday night rehearsal for their forthcoming production The Producers.

Mr Barrowman was there to surprise IODS member Samantha - who, as regular readers will know, I recently helped celebrate her 40th birthday - and to ask her to appear on his new TV show Tonight's The Night.

Samantha said she was totally amazed and somewhat overwhelmed by the surprise.

“I convulsed,” she said to me afterwards, “It wasn't a pretty sight. I couldn't believe it.”

Should make some good TV I think.

OUR most precious resource is not tobacco, or oil or barn owls - it's water.

And just the other week Anglian Water sent our newspaper a nice little press release declaring the appointment of Sir Adrian Montague CBE as its new chairman.

Included with this press release is the information that Sir thingy thing is also the chairman of Friends Provident, Michael Page International and Cellmark AB - a Swedish pulp and paper marketing company - as well as non executive director of First and Skanska AB - an engineering and construction group.

My goodness, with all this fingers and pies, it's a wonder he's got a moment to turn on a tap let alone fix a leak.

James' Mailbag:-

Dear James,

Pleased you had a good holiday!

1. A popular reading is 1 Corinthians ch. 13 vv 1 - 7 very good to read and listen to.

2. Psalm 98

3. If the couple have a good sense of humour: Wives and husbands! Ephesians ch 5 vv 22 - 33

Good luck!

BRENDA

Felixstowe

Dear James

I always enjoy your column and especially the report on your visit to an amateur production of 'A Murder is Announced' at Trimley.

This brought back memories of plays put on by Colchester Repertory Company in the old Albert Hall back in the 1940s. The audience always arose from their hard wooden seats as the National Anthem was played on a 78rpm record before the curtain went up on the current play.

As the interval came round a lady carrying a large tea urn walked up the aisle and placed it on a table by the side of the stage and poured out cups of tea at three [old] pence per cup.

When the audience left at the end of the performance, the manager or his assistance was always at the door bidding everyone 'goodnight - do hope you enjoyed the play: see you again next week'.

Happy days, long since gone!

Regards

BERNARD POLLEY

Colchester

Dear James

I imagine the answer to the first question in your quiz “who discovered penicillin?” will be Sir Alexander Fleming. That is the conventional answer and is - I think - strictly correct.

The story is that Fleming went away for a few days leaving some culture dishes to soak. One or two of them were not fully immersed and spores from a nearby bakery affected the cultures on them.

But Fleming thought he had discovered basically a new antiseptic. It was Howard Florey who developed the notion of using penicillin inside the body.

The development of penicillin is one of medicine's fascinating stories. It was first used on a policeman who had pricked his finger on a rose thorn. Nowadays with the prevalence of antibiotics, we don't appreciate how deadly dangerous even minor infections could be. Sadly, not enough penicillin could be made, even recapturing it from the policeman's urine, and he died.

It was next tried on a small boy and he lived.

An inspiring tale, but sadly we have thrown away much of the advantage over disease given by antibiotics by overuse.

MIKE FOWLS,

Felixstowe (no views of the sea).