Queen Elizabeth II has had so many jubilees, we are running out of minerals precious enough to celebrate them. 6 February 2022 marks her platinum jubilee, recognising seventy years since she ascended to the throne. Before that it was diamond; before that gold; but the jubilee, which will live longest in my memory is the Queen’s silver jubilee.
The year was 1977. 7 June 1977 to be precise. A bank holiday. A sunny one. Without wishing to reveal precisely how old I was at the time; sufficient to say that I was a mere child; a stripling; sufficiently innocent to be slightly scared of the Sex Pistols; sufficiently savvy to experience a sense of acute embarrassment at having to wear a homemade crown made out of silver lino.
Street-parties were being held all across the country. Except not in my street: Curmudgeon Avenue. I had to piggyback on a neighbouring street’s party in order to join in the right-royal celebrations.
Long trestle-tables of varying height and stability snaked their way along the middle of the road, hemmed in on either side by tightly-wedged wooden chairs and, on top of which every description of beige food was displayed, from custard creams to party sausages; Jammie Dodgers to pork pies. Homemade bunting hung limply from upstairs windows, and everyone was given a Union Jack flag to wave.
It was an event with no formal beginning and no formal end, and suffused by the slight awkwardness of massed English people not knowing how to enjoy themselves outdoors in the sunshine.
The highlight of the day was scheduled to be the prize-giving for the best crown on display. Some of my contemporaries had spared no expense or effort in an attempt to secure the prize. There were crowns of fabulous invention; multi-tiered and bejewelled; crowns of impressive size and haute couture. And then there was my crown. A single wrap of silver lino, unevenly crenellated at the top, devoid of any form of decoration. Heavy: utilitarian; ugly. An obvious off-cut from the flooring my family had recently laid in the kitchen.
Needless to say, my crown did not win the day. And, while it would be nice to say that every cloud has a silver lining, for me the jubilee is still all about silver lino.
© Beery Sue
Beery Sue still wonders why her family had silver lino in the kitchen.