Saturday, April 05, 2008

VIP coming through

Walking down Upper Street yesterday afternoon at four I passed the Prime Minister going the other way. To the summit in Watford, presumably. I've seen the PM's motorcade on a few occasions. There are police cars fore and aft but the main body consists of two black Range Rovers and two black Jags. I suppose the idea is that the potential assassin doesn't know which one contains the target.

It's nothing compared to the American President. I was in Sydney, Australia when Clinton was visiting and everywhere I went in that quite small city my progress was held up by his endless motorcade, plasma trucks and all. I eventually gave up and returned to my hotel room overlooking the harbour. I opened the curtains just in time to see Clinton and John Howard's boat pushing off from the adjacent dock. Looking around for someone to wave at, they waved at the only available person, which was me. I waved back.

A few years later I was passing through Green Park on a summer's evening and made to cross the Mall just as a limo bearing the royal standard came off the roundabout in front of Buckingham Palace. I was the only pedestrian on the Mall as the car went slowly past me. The passengers were the Queen and Prince Philip. They waved. I waved back.


  1. Anonymous11:32 am

    Whilst staying in a city centre hotel in Leeds, I took a wrong turn whilst trying to find reception from my room. I ended up in the entrance of a small conference room and was fairly shocked to see David Cameron, with entourage, coming the other way.
    For absolutely no reason, he shuck my hand and thanked me. Why and for what, I have no idea...

  2. My primary school and most of my places of employment were in Central London.

    Despite that I've never caught so much as a glimpse of our monarch in my half-century of metropolitan loafing-about.

    Which, I always think, makes rather a nonsense of those suggestions that the Royals attract a lot of tourists to this country. If I've never seen them in 48 years, what chance does someone have who's only here for a fortnight?

  3. You see: Clinton, the Queen and Prince Philip are all avid Word readers. You want to get that Gordon Brown bloke a subscription, so he waves next time.

  4. We were doing some pan- council promotion of electric cars a few years ago and got police outriders across south London. We got from wandsworth to croydon in about 20 mins. It's the only way to travel particularly when someone cuts you up a burly bike copper pulls them over and gives them a b**locking.

  5. I've had my brush with royalty too - trying to cross the road in High Holborn one lunchtime a few years ago. The traffic was moving at a snails pace and there in front of my very eyes was the Queen and Philip.

    It was a very disconcerting moment to say the least. In the course of a split second my brain had to figure out what to do as I stood on the side of the road trying to get to Sainsbury's. One of the ideas to cross my mind was to mouth the words 'Is that the time I'm starving' and to throw my eyes to heaven in a mock gesture. But with HRH The Queen and Philip staring at me from no more than 4 feet away I just gave them a cheeky which Philip winked back and gave me a thumbs up (right hand). AND - the Queen waved back!!!!!

  6. Mary Robinson, the first female Irish president, now does some work on the same floor as my office. She recently held open a door for me as I had a cup of coffee and a scone in my hands. Result.

  7. Anonymous9:35 pm

    Several years ago, I was returning to work from a lunchtime visit to our local hostelry (here in Nottingham, not down the smoke) when a big black Roller went past, with someone waving from the back seat. We were the only people in the vicinity, so we waved back, like you do - it was a few moments before we realised it was the heir to the throne. Sorry for not recognising you earlier, your maj.

  8. I was alone in Hyde Park when the royal car passed. Philip waved and I waved back. It's amazing how your standards drop and you become a blethering royalist fool when the opportunity arises.

  9. Anonymous12:41 am

    How funny that their reaction to bemused commoners is to wave enthusiastically, thus disarming all anarchists and ne'er do wells. A lesson for us all there, I think.

  10. Anonymous11:46 am

    'Plasma-trucks' sound far too futuristic for my liking.

  11. My sister once saw Princess Diana buying a magazine in the Sloane Square WH Smith.

    I saw Neil Kinnock walking down Wardour Street once (when he was Labour leader). He was wearing Ray Bans and a very nice beige suit with an open-neck dark blue shirt. I remember that because it was so different from the usual politician's navy blue suit and bland tie outfit you saw him in in the telly.

  12. In October 2001, I was stood outside Sun Studios in the tipping rain having a crafty fag with a couple of friends. We were in town for a Jerry Lee Lewis Fan Club Convention, and paying our dues at Sun ( "I don't think we need to be taking the gittars off the wall, sir"). Out of nowhere, bike outriders whizzed up and stopped either side of the road.

    Five minutes later, three or four huge, shiny blacked out motors trundled by in ominous silence. Dick Cheney was in town, presumably with WMD, and not Elvis, on his mind. Memphis Belle End.