Diamond Jubilee

It’s the regular guest blogger again, with a change of theme this time:

I’ve been doing a series on the concept of Freedom for the past month or so and will return to that next time. However I thought it appropriate to take a break this week and do something on the Diamond Jubilee. The celebration is occupying much of the UK news this year, and in particular, this past week-end. We had a Bank Holiday on Monday and a Jubilee Holiday on Tuesday so no work till today. Hurrah!

60 years on the throne is a fantastic achievement. Both here and abroad there have been a number themed “60” events held and paraphernalia produced: some good, some tacky. One of the most extraordinary has to be The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Gold Kilo Coinproduced by our very own Royal Mint: it has a face value of £1,000 but, as only 60 are being produced, it will cost you £60,000 (about $92,000). What a bargain! Go on treat yourself – you know you want one!

QE’s reign has so far spanned seven decades and the tenures of 11 Prime Ministers. She is on her 12th at the moment with David Cameron. (Queen Victoria managed 10.) In terms of length of reign, QE is on 60 yrs 133 days (as of Sunday last) but QV is still in the lead on 63 years 216 days. (QE became Queen on 6.2.1952 although her coronation did not take place until 2.6.1953.)

During her coronation year (1953), a number of noteworthy events took place both here and around the world. There are, of course, lots but I think these examples are worth a mention, so here we go:

Jan 

Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting For Godot has its first public stage première
in French as En attendant Godot at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris.
USA develops Hydrogen bomb.

Mau-Mau Uprising against British rule in Kenya.

307 people in UK are killed by the North Sea Flood.

Feb

Walt Disney’s Peter Pan has its premiere.

Watson & Crick (University of Cambridge) announce discovery of the DNA
molecule.

Mar

Josef Stalin dies.

Apr

First James Bond novel, Casino Royale is published by Ian Fleming.

May 

Aldous Huxley tries the hallucinogenic drug mescaline for the first time
which inspired his book The Doors of Perception.

France agrees to the provisional independence of Cambodia under King Norodom
Sihanouk.

Edmund Hillary & Sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquer Mt Everest on 29.5.1953. It is
named after Colonel Sir George Everest a Welsh Surveyor-General of India
(1830-43) although curiously, he had not wanted it to be given his name.
(Previously known as Peak XV by the English, Tibetans had called it
Chomolungma for hundreds of years.) Interestingly, news did not reach the UK
until the actual day of the coronation (2.6.1953).

Jun

Egypt declares itself a republic.

The first Chevrolet Corvette is produced at Flint, Michigan.

Jul Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Marilyn Munroe, Jane Russell) is released.

Korean War ends.

Aug

Soviet Union announces it has the hydrogen bomb.

4,000,000 worker go on strike in France over austerity measures.

Sep

Aserinsky & Kleitman publish their discovery of REM (rapid eye movement)
sleep

Oct

UNIVAC 1103, first computer to use random access memory.

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is made a specialised agency of the
UN.

Nov

The British Natural History Museum announced that one of the most famous
fossil skulls, that of Piltdown Man, was a hoax.

The Chilean port of Puerto Williams is founded – at 54⁰ south it is the most
southerly settlement in the world (Pop. over 2,200).

Dec

Eisenhower delivers his “Atoms for Peace” speech (about the peaceful use of
nuclear power).

Albert Schweitzer gets the Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence
For Life”.

At the end of the year/beginning of 1954 the first colour TVs go on sale in the USA, priced at about $11-1300 (depending on manufacturer).
Now, moving on to our own very local celebration. Originally planned for Sunday 3.6.12, it was brought forward to Saturday because the weather forecast for Sunday was horrendous. Our street (a close actually) had decided some months ago to hold a street party in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee. The organisers canvassed people to provide equipment (tables, chairs, gazebos & tents), baking, sandwich making and provision of drinks. I was asked to provide 4 garden chairs as they were seen by the organisers as they walked past my house. (That’s the organisers ‘walking past my house’ not the chairs if you see what I mean!) As they’d been outside for a number of years (that’s the chairs, not the organisers) I thought I’d better give them a bit of a clean up. I went outside and began washing them down; vigorous rubbing required to get rid of green moss deposits, mud and dirty streaks. Just as I finished chair no. 4 organiser Mike strides up the path to collect them. Whew, a bit close.

The next hour was spent, on the grassed area in the centre of our close, setting up tables, chairs, windbreaks, erecting gazebo & tents; each of the two huge tents could accommodate two tables and 8-12 people seated around them. All we needed now was the food. The call went out; people began pouring out of their houses arms laden with platters, plates and bags of stuff. There were scones with cream on and a strawberry on top, masses of sandwiches, salads, curries, sausage rolls & many bottles of soft drinks etc.

The large round red container, on the left, next to the bowl of salad looks like a tin of the small individually-wrapped chocolate bars called “Celebrations” which are always popular at parties and the like. However for this special occasion the manufacturers had changed the name of their brand to “Jubilations” – see what they did there? And we had one of those special ones!

Here’s a pic of one of the many flags put up. Some of the coloured hoops by the orange crate were set out later in a display as Olympic Rings. See how we combined the two events in our party?

Once everything was ready we were called to stand by the CD player which had been brought out. Power was supplied via 100 foot plus of extension cables. Then came the big moment to open proceedings: the start button was pressed and out boomed The National Anthem on full volume. Once finished, the cry went up, “Get stuck in folks”. That was it – our celebration was now under way: people ate & talked (but not at the same time, of course, being the well-mannered lot that we are!), kids had their faces painted with Union Jacks (that is brushes were used to paint them not the flags), older kids played football. Fortunately, although the sky had looked overcast most of the afternoon, the rain stayed off till much later. It did rain heavily on Sunday as the forecasters had predicted!

A good time was had by all although a few niggles were noted. I expressed a slight concern that The Queen had not turned up despite us “pulling out all the stops”. Part way through proceedings I asked the organiser where he had sited the Port-a-Loo for use by attendees. “There isn’t one!” he chirped merrily. There was nothing for it – I would have to make my way back home. (Mine is 2 houses to the left of the one top left in the picture above so you can see it was quite a trek! I estimated just over 25 metres. Could I make it in time?)

Well soon 7 hours had passed, everyone had enjoyed the bash but now it was tidy up time. As I came out of my house, heading south, I saw someone walking off, eastwards, with my four chairs in his hands. It seems someone had walked off with his so he was taking those. Once I explained that they were mine he gave them to me. However we were puzzled as to how someone else could have walked off with his chairs that they hadn’t brought and that didn’t belong to them. Lots of homes (well the 30 in the close) would need to be searched. I suggested a call to 221b Baker Street – see what I did there? – Homes? Like that other Diamond Jubilee Queen from many years ago, he was not amused!

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Fascinating facts! I am not a history buff, but this was good!
    Just a stop in to see the blog and leave a comment.
    Drop by and say hi to me sometime! Love to have you.
    Scott

    Reply

  2. You’ve only gone and won ANOTHER award! The Reader Appreciation Award – http://davidmcgowanauthor.com/2012/06/06/the-reader-appreciation-award/ – CONGRATULATIONS!

    Reply

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