Saturday, July 07, 2007

Access all areas- Princess Diana remembered

I'm sitting here vaguely watching the Live Earth Concerts. There is a certain sameness to them- probably because the UK venue is Wemberley, as used for the Concert for Diana last Saturday. I saw last week described as a bit of a Curate's egg, particularly by Havering On. I felt the TV production was a bit sloppy and the interspersed tributes to Diana eventually became tedious, somewhat like the non-funny bits on Comic Relief. (Thank you Sky Plus!)

We never got to see beyond Rod Stewart as the Skybox didn't record it properly (Curse you Sky Plus!) but the obsession by the Director of televising the reactions of the two Princes seemed over the top. There was a chuckle moment though, when an Artist asked for a big clap for them and when the camera cut to the royal box, one was clapping. The other one leant forward and obviously said from the lipreading "You're clapping yourself there."

One act I did get a little worried about was Roger Hodgson, who I am going to see on tour later in the year. He struggled with a couple of high notes, seemed a little out of it and from his comments it was almost as if he didn't seem to realise that Princess Diana died ten years ago. I'm sure he did, of course, and having to make small-talk to tens of thousands with more millions watching must be a challenge, especially as he isn't really a stadium act these days and it seems he may have been poorly. I was suddenly struck by the thought that he was performing a sort of high end greatest hits that happens in numerous small clubs and holiday camps by former big names still clubbing it (Think Mud, Darts, Barron Knights, Searchers et al...) I wonder if singer/songwriters get sick of their songs even though they are often their pension funds as well? (Slade and Roy Wood at Christmas).

Diana wasn't a Saint but she was massively admired and indeed loved with movie star status. I was in London the weekend after she died and I remember vividly being blown away by the mountain of flowers outside Kengsington Palace. I also remember being at Gatwick for a two minutes silence and the place totally stopping , falling eerily silent, even quieter than Memorial Sunday.

I once nearly got to meet her in a line-up, being part of the crew for a big show, Liza Minelli's tribute to Sammy Davis Junior. It was at the Albert Hall and whilst being in the line was off & on for days beforehand we were advised to wear Dinner Jackets just in case. I had to be the all time smartest Stage Electrician changing lamps in music stands!

I did go up to the gallery for a quick look at the Royal Box during the show. She had an elegant black dress and a very sparkly tiara. Whilst it is a vast place there was no mistaking her, she was graciously poised and watching the show with rapt attention.

It also took me back to 1969 when our class traipsed out to Ponteland Road to catch a glimpse of Princess Anne visiting Newcastle for some reason. They were somewhat late but the driver slowed down so that she could wave to us and whilst she isn't a beauty by any means she still gave the impression to 11 year olds of grace and poise, smiling happily from her official Roller with the big windows.

I've seen the Queen twice, once in Stavanger in 1981 (with Prince Philip and King Olaf of Norway), then again in 2005 at Ascot Races (at York that year) where she was very well received.

I'm not particularly a Royalist but I'm not a Republican either. I think the Queen fulfills her role well and I gather that she effectively brings in more revenue from tourism and such than we fork out with the Civil List. A few years ago, there was a web site justifying the Royal Family as better than a Republic but when I read it I was struck that with the arguments presented it only really applied with our current Queen and a successor could easily be so much less effective at it.

The Queen has her own website-

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