28/05/2013 Tea With The Duke

So a last week I was randomly invited to have ‘Tea at the Cutty Sark with a senior Royal’, through my choir. New Wine Church Choir gets invited to a lot of these events and I am still always surprised when it happens even though I’ve been in choir for like, 10 years.

I thought the ‘senior Royal’ would be one of the Queen’s far far distant cousins eight times removed or something, so I wasn’t tooo bothered about it. However, you don’t often get an opportunity to meet someone from the royal family and well, if they are serving tea for free, why pass up the opportunity? So I accepted the invitation and I didn’t really think about it until yesterday when I asked one of my friends if she was going. She said “Yea, why not? We’re having tea with Prince Phillip” Prince Phillip?! Hold on, is that who the ‘senior Royal’ is?? Ahhh well, that is a big deal – He’s the Queen’s husband! Like, the second in command in the land! (Is that technically true?…I think the Prime Minister might be…not sure though…if you do politics help me out please) well I guess I can’t be missing that then.

So today (after some serious dashing between work and home because I forgot my second form of ID – which wasn’t even checked! Grrr!), We had tea at the Cutty Sark (a massive ship, now turned museum, in Greenwich) and got to meet him. The tea was lovely – i’m a sucker for a smoked salmon sandwich and there were lots! Cloudy apple juice, cakes, macaroons..mmmm…they sure know how to do it – the only thing I didn’t have, was tea!

When he was due to arrive, we stood in our little groups (there were representatives of various groups in the community there – 9 of us from our choir representing the church) and he went around and talked to us (I was in prime position right at the front – being small has its uses, always gets you to the front!).

For a 91-year-old he is so agile – all those meet and greets must really keep him fit. What was really funny was that we were so talkative in our group before he came around and as soon a he was in front of us we didn’t know what to say! (It was a little awkward – shake hands? don’t shake hands? curtsey? don’t curtsey? – solution: No to both). He asked us the questions instead, so that was good (he has the art of small talk down) and then it was over. On to the next one.

As he went around I was really intrigued that this is what he did for his day job. Going around and greeting people, making small talk (you know how bad I am at that), cutting ribbons and being introduced everywhere – must be tiring. In the presence of royalty, you should also think you would be blown away, amazed and dazed by their presence but interestingly, when I first saw him, I didn’t think “OMG, woooooww it’s Prince Phillip” – it was more “he looks just like a nice grandpa in a good suit” . There wasn’t this massive grand aura or anything (I really don’t know what I expected…a shine of some sort? A booming voice? A massive crown?), and even when they said “Your Majesty” in the welcome speech, my resounding thought was “he just looks like another person”.

TV and other media make people seem so huge and  magnified but at the end of it all they are all really just people. Being a royal garners fame because it’s part of the job (or life should I say) but he didn’t “work hard to get to where he’s got to” or “come from nothing to get here!” So I guess that’s why I wasn’t as overwhelmed as I thought I would be. Now, if I was meeting President Obama…

I would love to meet the Queen one day though. She does inspire you to work hard and be dedicated to what you do – seeing her stand for hours in the rain during her jubilee celebrations endeared me to her a bit because she didn’t just leave it to the people to stand in the rain, she stood with them.

For all the fairy tales and stories of being a Prince or Princess, nobody tells you that in real life, along with the perks of being waited on hand and foot, it’s a constrained commitment.  You’re born into “a life chosen by God” as one news article put it,  your job is already picked out for you and you have all this protocol and tradition thrust on you without choice. I know I wouldn’t like that. I’m glad to have met the Duke and I like the Queen,  they’re obviously good at what they do and it’s a way of life for them, but strangely, I’m glad it’s not mine.

Good thing of the day: Tea at the Cutty Sark with Prince Phillip the Duke of Edingburgh! (The Queen’s husband). Hope I am as agile at 90!

Woolwich

I dont even know where to start. I have spent all  day watching news coverage about two men who senselessly and barbarically ran over then butchered a man to death on a road that I travel on almost everyday. I happen to not have been in Woolwich today because of a last minute cancellation by a client and I thank God for that. I have no idea what I would have done if I was there.

It is shocking but shocking doesn’t even cover it. This is somewhere I go everyday! Not somewhere in another country, or another continent. I was there two days ago! My friends live there, my church is down the road and people I know are there.

It is unfathomable what could have been going through these men’s minds for them to commit such a crime like this and to also do it in such a nonchalant way! These guys even waited around after killing the man, asking passers by to take pictures and film them – who does that???

Who kills people with a machete and meat cleaver in the middle of the day by a primary school??

They had an agenda and definitely got the attention they wanted – even amplifying the drama to wait for a shoot out with the police. There is a film showing one of the killers talking about why he’d done it and he was soaked in the vicitm’s blood and holding the weapons like they were nothing. And the victim was still there! Lying in the street. I don’t know what to say.

Watching all this is surreal. You feel so helpless. What can I do? How can this happen? What will my opinion, shock and horror do?

It’s times like this when you question God. When you question your faith. When that man woke up this morning he didn’t know it would be the last time. No one ever does. How can things like this happen?  Why did He not make the man late or make him stay at home longer? Why didn’t the attackers’ car break down? Why didn’t they become so ill they couldn’t go out? How can He let this happen???

I really really don’t know. I don’t understand but I guess I resolve it by concluding that God, who sees and knows everything, must know something I don’t.

My heart truly goes out to the family and friends of the man killed and I know that that will be the case for many people in the country.

We have to stand strong.We have to go on, we have to come together against things like this and not let them win.

AWOL

I feel like I’ve been AWOL the past week as I’ve been so busy and horribly ill at the same time, I haven’t actually taken time to complete my posts. I’ve got some coming though so don’t worry. You’ll soon read of my expedition to the Zoo (cheesy grin) and my pitifulness at networking last week. Also why even though I’ve just started I’m thinking of leaving my new job and why I’m loving the book Start. All this and more coming soon (to a cinema near you!)*.

 

*Sorry about that…you see what pain meds do to your brain???