Terribly, Terribly English

Riding around the lanes, villages and small towns like Henley today and yesterday, it was surprising how few people there were around. I don’t think they can have all been indoors, retreating from the relentlessly dismal weather. (If it’s not raining it will be soon.) I don’t think they were all at Jubilee parties.

There have been endless attempts to market on the back of the Jubilee – from the connected to the desperate. I’ve been offered ‘Jubilee Guitar Strings’ (at 10% off, no less) by email. The pubs are the ones I fear for; they’re nearly all trying to get punters in the door for some Jubilee-themed event or promotion or something but I doubt there are that many punters to go around – or even that there would have been if the weather had been glorious.

Today, riding past a seat provided to mark the Golden Jubilee 10 years ago, along the Harpsden Bottom road, I realised I’ve not heard anything at all about longer-lasting community ‘Jubilee Projects’, whether as small (but significant) as the seat or anything more grand. Perhaps they’ve just not crossed my radar.

The Queen's Golden Jubilee - anniversary bench

Something lasting …

I confess I’m finding it a bit tedious now – as ever, the media are giving the whole thing such an overkill treatment. I suppose it’s the same underlying issue as the pubs’ events: the media are just as desperate to attract punters, and just as imagination-free in their efforts. It’s very hard for anything to retain any semblance of being in any way ‘special’ when it’s flogged to death.

I can only have praise and affection for the people of Goring and Streatley, their 1km long table for an outdoor Jubilee lunch and the way they just got on with it in the rain, including an attempt at baking the most scones (4,000) in one sitting. It’s just so terribly, terribly English in every way that’s wholly admirable. (Of course, that should really be a .62 mile long table.)

Perhaps the way the weather’s brought out such classically English ways of carrying-on is a blessing – albeit well disguised. Perhaps that’s just sort-of de facto twaddle and we’d have been ever better in our Englishness if the sun had shone.

Talking of the praiseworthy – my heartfelt thanks to the (possibly quite elderly) lady in the Honda on the road out from Henley today. Without excessive detail: the situation on the road was out of the ordinary because of a large lorry; I wasn’t correctly positioned as a result; the lady understood perfectly what was happening, gave me all the space I needed and passed me with a cheery wave. It’s appreciated – and should be acknowledged.

Some photos from BBC Berkshire, including of Goring’s Jubilee party.