Live from the Jubilee River Thing

A special day, but a familiar atmosphere

Standing in the rain at Vauxhall, wearing the traditional British summer gear of waterproof trousers and a cagoule. Thousands of Queen masks in evidence. When Her Majesty comes past that will presumably feel very strange, as though she’s in her own version of Being John Malkovich.

Also: will she have to wear a waterproof poncho? Or a life jacket? Or are members of the Royal family exempt from health and safety legislation?

Atmosphere is the familiar one of grim English determination to have a good time in spite of all obstacles. Cold, rain, and an impenetrable wall of umbrellas between oneself and the thing one is trying to see will not get in the way.

Shall stop now before my iPhone shorts out in the damp. More updates when Her Damp Britannic Majesty approaches.

Rumours of boats sighted at Vauxhall turned out to be a police dinghy. Crowd’s halfhearted effort to go wild is stillborn. Slightly more enthusiastic response for an RNLI lifeboat.

People down here on the ground getting resentful of the people in the tower blocks, who presumably have not been standing for five hours and can occasionally go and get a cup of tea.

The woman swigging amaretto has drained her bottle. Whether she can keep it down remains to be seen…

Oh here they are. A somewhat ugly tug is pushing a barge full of bellringers, then the rest turn up in earnest. Woo hoo etc. Lots and lots of rowing boats in the colours of the commonwealth countries. Rather lovely really.

UPDATE: Embarrassingly my phone ran out of batteries at this point, so I didn’t get to say that it all got much more impressive. The Royal barge came past, and Her Madge was very visible in white and Camilla in cream – all the men in their military uniforms were harder to identify, and we weren’t able to spot the Duchess of Cambridge despite her bright red outfit.

The Dunkirk small ships, the armada of rowing boats and all the Commonwealth flags were particularly fun, and there was one bit when a Thames River Cruises tourist boat full of bagpipers in kilts came past playing “She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain”. And the spirit was very good in the rain, although one South African lady offended the natural sense of British queuing. Heaven knows I’m no arch-monarchist but it was all very sweet. One thing, though, standing up for six and a half hours is surprisingly difficult.


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