Going for Gold
Crack of doom. Tom and I meet Rose and Si at the station for our trek up to St James’s Palace where Rose is due to receive her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. To add a little challenge to the day there is a tube strike, but Tom, bless him, has brought a rucksack to carry our ‘car to bar’ shoes. The socks and trainers don’t do much for my outfit, but at least I can get round London without breaking a heel.
Arrive Victoria in record time. Typical. It’s pouring down with rain. Double typical. Si shields Rose with a golfing umbrella and we hoof it to Maccy D’s for a McWee and some essential nutrients like coffee, doughnuts and McMuffins. Greatly restored we head for St James’s Palace, spotting Seb Coe along the way... Perhaps he’s the person dishing out the awards? Arrive St James’s Palace. Hop around changing shoes and part company with the men. Only one guest per young person, sadly. We’ve been told to bring two forms of ID but Rose and I have a collection between us, just in case someone finds an excuse not to let us in. Si, who is very laid back, thinks we are hilarious. Much shuffling and queuing follows. After a slight worry about hats I only spot one hat in the queue and its owner looks a tad self-conscious.
We’re in! Hordes of young people are here to collect their Gold Awards today and we’ve been directed to the Waterloo Room which has rather tired red flocked wallpaper and some dreary oils of battle scenes. The young people sit in four groups of about twenty-five whilst the adoring parents are placed opposite. It soon becomes apparent that the biggest part of this award presentation is about getting the right bums on the right seats with no distractions like refreshments to make sure they stay there. A quick glance around shows that this is Stiff Upper Lip territory full of serious mothers in sensible clothes... Thank God, I reigned in my inner WAG and wore my multi-purpose smart occasion outfit! Whilst waiting for the action I have a quiet moment of prideiosity and admire my beautiful, talented daughter (one of a pair of beautiful, talented daughters, I might add). I then make the mistake of asking the woman on my right who her child is. Rose recalled afterwards, seeing the other mother’s mouth move for a very long time and watching me slowly glaze over. Honestly, some people have no control over their prideiosity!
Our celeb, who will present the awards, is announced, and there are a few puzzled faces. Undeterred, Blue’s Antony Costa (exactly!) presses the flesh, winks and says ‘Well done, you guys!’ a lot, before a flunkey gives us the two minute warning that the Duke of Edinburgh is about to arrive. It’s his 88th birthday but we are given strict instructions not to mention it, nor, horror, are we to give presents (sadly, I forgot mine). Then a small, slight man enters with room with a couple of security guards (in case any of us lunge at him with a birthday kiss, I suppose) and a flurry of cameras. He booms ‘Anyone get lorst?’ at each group in turn and exchanges a few pleasantries and then it’s all over.
Rose and I squeeze the most from our visit by trotting off to the Ladies (I don’t think they were the ones the Queen uses) and lurking about for a bit in case one of the other groups got a better celeb (sorry, Antony). Last year Ben Fogle was about so we feel duty bound to make sure he’s not here today. At the very least we are hoping for a fine figure of a rugby player and feel Olly Barkley would have made a good choice. Fortunately we have our own hunks outside who have been amusing themselves with a trip to the National Portrait Gallery. Reunited, we pose for photos and then walk to Greek Street to mark the occasion at L’Escargot. I love L’Escargot, the food’s sublime, the atmosphere is so relaxed and the staff are incredibly professional. My happiness levels soar even higher as we sit down and raise a glass to Rose. Well done, my lovely daughter!
In addition to my two daughters, I am privileged to have two stepsons and it’s Stepson Two’s birthday today. Happy birthday, dear Tom, may your dreams come true.