Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fired Up

A truly unforgettable experience, as I'm sure it was for thousands who climbed their nearest high point to ignite Diamond Jubilee beacons. We had gathered in the gardens of a house in the village to eat, drink and be merry whilst Youngest Boy spent four hours somersaulting down a bouncy castle. And then, at ten o'clock we convened in the dark road outside (our village has no street lighting thank goodness) and followed an enormous English flag up to the top of whale-backed Slawston Hill. As we ascended we pointed out flaring lights on the surrounding high points to each other, and then our own blaze sent fire, smoke and flying embers up into the sky as if competing with the big full moon that came out of a wisp of cloud at exactly the right moment. I stared out into the black distances, thinking of those in neighbouring villages gathered around their beacons, looking over to ours. Youngest Boy was simply awestruck, running about with his mate trying to catch flying spots of fire in the air until we gradually drifted off down the hill and back into the village street, saying 'goodnight' to our fellows in the darkness like Thomas Hardy characters coming home.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Wiltshire Summer Morning

What to do for the Jubilee I thought. Polish up the Coronation Oxo tin? Yet again scan the 'Our Queen' transfer book? Too obvious. Too Unmitigated perhaps. But then I remembered. I had my own personal portrait of Our Queen. In 2008 I was suddenly thrust into taking pictures at a garden party at the Royal Artillery's Larkhill barracks in Wiltshire. I expected just to get shots of Chelsea Pensioners tucking into cream cakes, or, if I was lucky enough, detailed close-ups of tanks in battle-ready positions. I got all of that, but beforehand I found myself almost alone behind the press pack barrier, right opposite the Guest of Honour as she was about to unveil a new stone sign for the barracks. Happy Diamond Jubilee Your Majesty.