Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Garden Party

A well-fed man in cherry-picker trousers and shiny shoes takes off his jacket to reveal braces underneath. Another man stoats by with an 18-inch feather in his hat and a longbow. Military dress uniforms or show suits for the men, floral dresses and pastel coloured hats for the women. An upper-class voice is talking about the shooting this year. This is outside in the car park with little picnic tables set up behind 4x4s - nobody is inside the palace grounds yet as the party doesn't kick off till 3pm. The non-military, middle-class men are obvious as they wear kilts - white socks and tweed jackets for the older men, dark green or black socks for the younger, sweltering in the brief summer heat. Young women in floaty dresses and just-done hair kick off their heels and walk across the grass flat-footed. Inside the Queen will meet a couple of people, picked by flunkies for a brief chat, but most will get at best a distant glimpse of the monarch, her inscrutable duty face softening a little as she meets real people. The area of Holyrood Park we normally use for our lunchtime sports practice has been fenced off, patrolled by car park attendants, metropolitan police and the army, who wander over discreetly to check up on a man they've been watching who is sporting a rucksack and babbling to himself about demons. He wanders on, away from the VIPs, and they back off. No doubt if we looked hard enough we'd spot the snipers on the rooftops. It's the Queen's annual garden party at Holyrood Palace, free tea and sandwiches and hob-nobbing with the old money and nominated worthies of Scottish society.

I must confess that I was once - entirely undeservedly - invited to a royal garden party. However the day was sunny and we didn't want to waste it, so ended up doing something else instead. I'm not sure my parents have forgiven us yet...


Anonymous said...

I thoroughly sympathise over the invasion of your park by all those people, cars and security... I would feel the same about my local park, and can see how it would create a "them and us" feeling.
- best regards, a Glaswegian with a non-plummy voice ;-) (got an invite to yesterday's Garden Party thru voluntary work)

P.S. enjoyed the blog and the lovely photos of the East Coast

Robert Craig said...

I think Holyrood Park is officially the Queen's property, like Balmoral or Windsor Great Park, and we public get the use of it most days of the year (when they aren't doing stuff like the clan gathering for the homecoming year or Edinburgh marathons or armed service day or suchlike)... glad you like the east coast pics, there's some nice parts of the east coast if you look hard enough :)

Maybe I even saw you yesterday! Did you get to meet the Queen?