I am nine years old and going to school in Laindon, despite the fact that I live in Pitsea. The big day has arrived. I can’t remember exactly which one of them it was, it might have been Princess Margaret or possibly Anne, I’m fairly sure it wasn’t The Queen. To be honest though it’s so long ago that I can’t remember. I know, I know, what a way to start a story.
Anyway, we’ve been drilled all week, little paper Union Jack flags on cheap sticks have been handed out and we’ve been shown how to line up and wave them. This is important stuff we are told. We are representing our school. It is deemed so important that we are giving up a whole morning of school time for it.
At the appointed hour we are marched down to the A127, one of the two main roads that connect our particular arse-end of the world with exotic London. There we stand, the whole school, flags at the ready, breathing in carbon monoxide like it’s the latest thing, teachers crane their necks, looking for the car, that ever mysterious car.
Then it is time. “They’re coming, get ready children,” multiple teachers shout. We start waving our flags, really concentrating on making our cheap paper flags look proud, representing Millhouse Junior School, representing Laindon, even though I was born in Billericay and now live in deepest, darkest Pitsea.
Then it is all over. Seconds, not even minutes. I thought I’d catch a glimpse of a hand doing that arse-about-tit wave that the Royals do. But no, the line of black cars, not a gold carriage in sight, just speed past. After which we are marched back to school to write about our experience.
I think my hatred of our beloved Royal family was planted on that day.