It will not have escaped you Royal-watchers out there in The Rest Of The World that the Queen has had a special birthday recently.
90 glorious years.
England joined in, in so many different ways; not least with a mass Royal Cream Tea, with scones, clotted cream, jam and a perfect cuppa shared at thousands of venues across the country, in the illustrious name of Elizabeth II.
In England’s Vale Of Guildford, up at the Cathedral, Muggins here got the short straw. No sitting scoffing creamy strawberry scones for me: I was manning the kiddie’s crafts stall. I was entertaining small people, that big people might have a second to sit down and cram a scone into their mouths and momentarily consider its smooth dairy perfection before being once more assailed by a small whirlwind on legs.
My good and ingenious friend the Events Officer, ever- competent and resourceful – had prepared some cracking activities which would waylay the pint size for the duration of a scone and a swig of tea: make a paper-doily flower buttonhole; decorate your own regal crown; create a plate of cotton-wool-cakes; or join the colouring competition.
But one activity drew me back, again and again. It required considerable fine motor skills, even tempered tenacity, and the ability to operate with sticky fingers.
It was the Crown Jewels table.
The Crown Jewels were proving popular: if only because the jewels themselves, which were threaded onto some fetching bi-colour string, were what are known in this country as Cheerios. Are they fruit loops elsewhere? Small reconstituted loops of material which faintly remembered swaying on the end of a stalk in some field or other, though they had been plied with sugar and battered into a pulp since leaving Elysium.
A typical crown jewels-making-session would proceed like this: A prospective small customer would approach the table, often sideways like a crab. I would reel them in with the sales spiel, which outlined the siren advantages of crown jewels you could make yourself, wear, and- yes- even eat.
Their eyes would widen with thoughts of the possibilities of making a necklace which could be munched at leisure whilst walking round the fete.
And then I would do a careful step-by-step demonstration. Tie a cheerio on the end and then thread them on, one by one.
I found, Reader, that the activity was addictive.Before long I had completely lost all thoughts of propriety and was having crown-jewel making races with the clientele, which I usually won because small people found it difficult not to mysteriously eat half the crown jewels the moment they were threaded on.
We would sit and thread contentedly to the sound of munching. And the bracelets got made, invariably, despite the rate of jewel consumption.
If only the Queen had been able to glimpse this corner of her sceptre’d isle: her smallest subjects honouring her with jewellery fit for a queen; and pottering of to take in the sights and sounds of the fete, quite literally wearing their mid-afternoon snack.