Birthday Honours

11 06 2011

‘D-day’ was earlier this week.

I am now in my 58th year – unbelievable, I know!

At my time of life (is it late middle age or early old age?) birthdays are not to be lingered over. Having removed the tell-tale cards from the mantelpiece (which didn’t take long!) this is neither the time nor the place for further gloom and despondency.

Looking on the bright side, Stevie D (sounds like a wannabe ‘70s DJ doesn’t he?) a long-standing close friend, just turned 60 (a whole 2 years away for me!) having recently returned from a 3 month world cruise, followed by a birthday celebratory break in the Big Apple, is now busily planning how to make the most of his free bus pass and fuel allowance. As he keeps telling me – “Every little helps!”      

I am also in regal company this week, with the D of E, notching up his 90th yesterday. We share a ‘monicker’ of course (although my version with a double ‘l’ is far less common) – a name with a Greek origin (very apt for the Duke) that marks us out as ‘horse lovers’. Is it too late for me to get in the saddle at my time of life?

The grumpy old royal was at his irascible best during his eve of birthday BBC interview with Fiona Bruce and let’s be honest we’d have been disappointed with anything less!

The charming Fiona, used to dealing with dusty rather than crusty antiques, was a perfect choice but she didn’t cut any ice with the newly titled ‘Lord High Admiral’ – a small birthday gift from the wife don’t you know! Some, particularly those he disparagingly referred to as ‘‘bunny huggers”,  might find ‘Lord High Executioner’ a title more in keeping, for this curmudgeonly president of the World Wildlife Fund, who paradoxically still takes great delight in bagging a pheasant or two for the pot!        

From his opening gambit, “I didn’t want to do this interview, since you ask,” through to, “who cares what I think about anything?” it was a typically blunt performance from a Prince Consort who, having spent nearly 60 years trooping one step behind his wife, is still best known for a string of un pc but pithy one-liners that suggest he is clearly just a frustrated stand-up comic.

Given that the Duke, by his own admission is nearing his sell-by date and planning to cut-back on royal duties, “I reckon I’ve done my bit – I want to enjoy myself a bit now,” I’m just wondering if Simon Cowell might see his way to producing a one-off,  ‘Britain’s Got Royal Talent’ show, to be broadcast as the centre piece of next year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  And now introducing the comedian formerly known as Prince… Have you heard the one about the slanty eyed Chinese? etc.

There is a precedent of course. Who will ever forget ‘It’s A Royal Knockout’? But then again most who do remember it wish they couldn’t! Indeed the ill-conceived 1987 charity event organised by, one-time failed trainee for the Royal Marines cum theatrical impresario (I think he made the tea backstage!), Prince Edward was so badly received that many saw it as the starting point for a sustained downward trend in public respect for most of the royal family.

However much her family might be dysfunctional, the Queen, the glue that holds them together, continues to glide serenely above it all and still commands huge world-wide respect, not to mention a great deal of sympathy!

Today, being the second Saturday in June, the Queen’s Birthday Honours list was published ahead of the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony , to mark her ‘unofficial’ birthday (a concept I’ve never really understood) in London’s historic Horse Guards Parade.    

The Queen, as always, was present and accompanied by family members, notably the nation’s favourite newly weds, the Cambridges, who caused something of a media-frenzy. Photo lenses homed in on ‘Wills’, Colonel in Chief of the Irish Guards, making his debut on horseback decked out in dashing scarlet regimental tunic and bearskin, and fashion icon Kate, taking time out for a horse-drawn carriage ride and a welcome break from the weekly supermarket sweep up in Anglesey!        

Predictably enough, at this time of national austerity and with ‘call me Dave’ trumpeting his ‘Big Society’ at every opportunity, it is entrepreneurs from the world of business and public servants who  dominate this year’s ‘Birthday Honours’ list, but as always it is the show-biz celebs and sports stars  who add the razzmatazz and grab the headlines.

Arise, Sir Brucie! “Knight to see you, to see you…” After years of unashamed campaigning by his fans, the 83-year-old ‘Strictly…’ compere has at long last been granted a knighthood for 70 years of service to show business – principally game-shows, although in fairness he was a pretty decent song and dance man in his heyday. My only concern is it will encourage him to keep going!

Colin Firth has earned the OBE for services to drama, presumably based on the royal approval for his splendid Oscar-winning portrayal, as the queen’s father George VI, in ‘The King’s Speech’, rather than his more light-weight  performances in ‘Mama Mia’ and the ‘Bridget Jones’ movies. Although the Queen might have them in her DVD collection for when the young royals come round!

I was delighted to see the multi-talented Bernard Cribbins is to receive the OBE for over 60 years-worth of stage, radio, TV and film work as a character actor, musical comedian and voice over artist par-excellence. As a kid I loved his early ‘60s comic hits, ‘Right said Fred’ and ‘Digging a Hole’, and in the ‘70s he was seemingly ever-present on children’s TV; a record-breaking 111 appearances on the excellent storytelling ‘Jackanory’ series and voice of the litter picking ‘Wombles’ of Wimbledon Common. He also starred, unforgettably, as Perks the stationmaster in the classic British movie version of ‘The Railway Children’ and has recently become known to a new generation of children through his portrayal of Wilfred Mott, ccompanion to David Tennant’s 10th Dr!

Her majesty has also seen fit to re-unite 70s & 80s comedy trio ‘the Goodies’. Bill Oddie was singled out for a gong, back in 2003, as much for his work as a ‘twitcher’ and ‘nature-watch’ expert rather than his comedic exploits. Somewhat belatedly, his former writing and performance partners Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor have been recognised but if we’re not careful the threesome could soon be back in  tandem with  a TV re-run and a re-release of ‘Funky Gibbon’!                          

The inimitable voice of Bryan Ferry, former glam rock/new romantic lead singer with ‘70s band Roxy Music, now in his 65th year but still touring, has been recognised with the CBE despite his inability to moderate the behaviour of his off-spring! (Otis, Marlborough School old boy and master huntsman of the South Shropshire Hunt, arrested and remanded in custody for his part in incidents surrounding a pro-fox hunting demonstration).

Bryan, a working class north-east lad, seemingly a product of the anarchic ‘70s claims that he is ‘apolitical’ despite denouncing left wing political correctness and aligning himself with ‘call me Dave’. I wonder where his nomination came from!  

Having said that, it’s all about the music and ‘Virginia Plain’ (1972) is well and truly on my desert island singles playlist – “…Baby Jane’s in Acapulco, we are flyin’ down to Rio….”              

On the sporting front, Ashes winning captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower pick up OBEs for retaining the little urn, while opening bat Alistair Cook is to receive an MBE as the youngest ever England player to score 5000 test runs.

Golfer Lee Westwood’s contributions to his sport have also been recognised with an OBE. He is currently World number two, having been number one as recently as the end of May, and having played a leading a role for Europe in seven consecutive Ryder Cup competitions. And, of course, being a Worksop lad he’s a Nottingham Forest stalwart! 

And finally it would be terribly remiss and politically incorrect of me not to include a woman amongst this lot!

In fact I’d have been for the high jump, or maybe the long jump, if I had forgotten to mention the MBE awarded to current European and World heptathlon champion, Jessica Ennis, one of our great Olympic gold medal hopes for London 2012.     

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7 responses

12 06 2011
Gerry

“Age shall not weary them…….” Enjoyable as always Phil, but the accuracy not so good. Edward never was a Royal Marine. He failed to make the grade, and now masquerades in the uniform of any other branch of the services that are not bothered to object. This is unlike his brothers who both literally earned their wings and stayed the course. His nephews can give him points to march on as well.
(PS I may have taken the bait you laid, but I feel quite strongly about the fact that the only Prince of the Royal Blood jto join my corps just walked out of the gate. End of my Blimp statement!!)

12 06 2011
outofafrica2010

I know I shouldn’t wind you up Gerry! I hope I’ve made an appropraite correction, and restored the honour of the Royal Marines by tagging Edward as a ‘one-time failed trainee’ ?
Glad you are still finding time to follow my postings, when I get around to them!

12 06 2011
Gerry

That is a great improvement!!! Thanks Phil.

12 06 2011
Another Phil

Another year another beer – we must share one sometime in the coming months. It’s a much better way of spending money than exchanging Christmas cards!

My favourite Duke conversation was the one he had with ex Glos MP Parmjit Dhanda. The Duke asked him what he had done before going into politics.

” I worked in a trade union” said Parmjit to which the Philip replied,
” So bugger all then”
Parmjit, put out tried to get the upper hand and responded,
“What did you do before you got this job?” Quick as a flash the Duke replied.
“Fought in the second world war” which shut up poor Parmjit completely. Little has ever phased Phil the Greek-German-Danish-Brit who could no doubt eat OFSTED inspectors for breakfast!

12 06 2011
outofafrica2010

Hi Phil. It’s always good to read your comments. I hope things are going well. I would love to meet up for a beer some time – maybe when Forest Green next play Mansfied, if not before!
I was at the new Wembley last week, something I’ve not got round to blogging about yet, and bumped into someone parading around in Forest Green Rovers top – I’m surprised they allow them out like that!

12 06 2011
Another Phil

Age does play tricks on the brain though……….I hasten to add that I have never sent a Christmas card on someone’s birthday!

12 06 2011
Eve.

Happy Birthday Phil.
Don’t get too excited about the winter fuel allowance. Peter anticipated a payment for 2011/2012 and very wisely spent it on a Glastonbury ticket, only to find he was born 3 months too late – for the allowance not the festival.

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