Last night Jane and I travelled to Edinburgh to see The Queen. What it is to have connections.
Well, alright we didn’t actually meet Her Majesty in person, instead our lovely friends Dusty and Joy, Jane and myself sat in a darkened room in Wester Hailes and watched Stephen Frears’ film about the House of Windsor during those strange couple of weeks in 1997 in the days between Tony Blair’s election to government and the death of Diana Princess of Wales.
At times the film felt like a comedy, while at other moments like a tragedy. Overall it was an intelligent and moving film. I felt great sympathy with both The Queen and with Tony Blair, played by Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen respectively, a clash of two cultures and upbringings. I longed for the Royal Family to realise the feelings of the people but could quite understand their sense of shock and that their perception and interaction with Diana was completely different to her public persona.
There were a few moments in the film that I found most moving. Charles flying to Paris to see Diana’s body; how hard must that have been? The Queen’s landrover breaking down en route to a stag hunt, and the Queen crying at the side of the river. The Queen’s walkabout outside Buckingham Palace once she returned to London, the sea of flowers on the pavement placed in memory of Diana and the bouquet of flowers presented to The Queen by the little girl in the crowd. The acting was first class.
It took me back to those strange days in London in 1997. I remember waking up in my room in Bermondsey and hearing the news that Diana had been killed. We gathered in our communal lounge at Lansdowne (accommodation for Shaftesbury Society homeless hostel workers) in our pyjamas and watched the news on TV, stunned. I remember many of our homeless residents queuing for hours and hours and hours to sign the book of condolence, and to go out early on the evening before her funeral to sleep on the streets to book a place. (We joked that Diana had made homeless people homeless again for one night.)
I moved out of London and back to Scotland that day. I sat exhausted (having driven through the night) on Mum’s sofa in Selkirk watching the funeral on television with my friends Danny and Greg. What an odd and memorable day that was. What a splendid film.
Tonight I’m off to Glasgow to see MotÃ¶rhead in concert.