For a moment, there, I thought I’d lost my notes! Help! How would I remember? Well, firstly, the points I choose to scribe for further discussion are, of course, most worthy … at the time. As the folded pieces of paper build, however, I tend to bin them indiscriminately, with the exception of one: that pertaining to Prince Charles and his little foibles. Information gleaned from Tina Brown’s latest book, The Palace Papers. I have it, just waiting to be read, particularly in light of such juicy revelations. Not quite sure they do our future King many favours, though.
Seventy-three years old. I have often thought, of late, that Charles Philip Arthur George looks very ruddy in complexion. One does wonder what goes on behind closed doors? Partial to a little Dubonnet and gin, I shouldn’t wonder and, believe me, potent is not the word. One part gin, two parts Dubonnet – pure alcohol ‘diluted’ with a slice of orange – we tried it recently and it took my liver weeks to recover! A favourite tipple of the Queen Mother, it was only after her death in March 2002 that we learned of her prolonged extravagance and indulged lifestyle which was at no risk of being funded by her final Civil List payment of £643,000 per year. In fact, she left debts of more than £7million with Coutts, making her ‘arguably the greatest royal spendthrift since the opulent Versailles heyday of Marie Antoinette’ (the words of Michael Thornton in an article in the MailOnline, updated January, 2008). Apparently, the wages bill, alone, at Clarence House was £1.5million and this included an old watchman who sat outside the Queen Mother’s bedroom door, every night, with a lamp. That’s called security on speed!
Fascinating reading, it seems we don’t know the half of it. Cut off from reality and then some. One is inclined to wonder why the Queen Mother and Fergie weren’t besties, given that they had so much in common? Anyway, back to Prince Charles and his Dubonnet and gin … which reminds me of the report, earlier this year, that the Queen had been advised by her doctor to give up alcohol! At 96, why would one?
Yes, yes, Charles … Let me share some of the gems I noted down in order that I may, finally, bin this crumpled piece of paper. Firstly, on accepting the invitation of friends – or anyone, in fact – for a sojourn of one night or more (presumably in this country), a van is sent ahead, the day before, with his own orthopaedic bed, his personal loo seat and his own toilet roll! That, most definitely, requires an exclamation mark. Now, I’m sort of with him on the toilet roll, being one who is forever inclined to throw one – or two – into the suitcase or bag when travelling. Always good to err on the side of caution and there have been many a time when one has been gratefully received! The loo seat? A little extreme, perhaps, but one cannot question the logic. His own bed, however? Now, that’s just silly.
There’s more! His valet prepares his toothbrush, morning and night, be topped with an exact amount of toothpaste while his jammies are pressed daily. Next, for breakfast, the heir to the throne is partial to plums in juice. While he is served with two, he only ever eats one – but must be given two. Makes sense to me.
It is fascinating stuff – and, certainly, not without humour – but one is led to wonder where Camilla fits into all this? Charles’ bed, Charles’ loo seat, Charles’ toilet paper? Perhaps she drives her own van!
Jolly! Jolly! Not my intended topic which was/is far from jolly. That of Matthew McConaughey’s emotional address at the White House briefing, on Tuesday, calling for stricter gun laws following the recent Uvalde shooting of nineteen schoolchildren and their teachers. Anyone who didn’t see it should make a point of watching it or, perhaps read the transcript – Press Briefing by Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, and Matthew McConaughey. Matthew McConaughey grew up in Uvalde. It was there, as a boy, he learnt how to shoot; how to handle guns; how to respect them. His mother taught at a kindergarten less than a mile from Robb Elementary. This was his playground … It is no surprise, then, that the atrocity of 24th May hit home particularly hard. He is the father of three young children aged 13, 12 and 9.
Matthew McConaughey is an acclaimed actor but, on Tuesday, he spoke as a father; an impassioned human being in shock and disbelief at the depravity of his own kind. His words were powerful, the description unforgiving as to the mutilated bodies of the children, many only identifiable by their DNA; Maite Rodriguez, age 9, by her green high-top Converse with the heart she had hand-drawn on the right toe … His wife, Camila, held them on her knee. Too raw. Too real. An image impossible to forget. He and Camila drove to Uvalde the day after the tragedy and spent time with the bereaved: the parents; those who knew and loved those children. His stories now, ironically, brought each and every one of them to life. He made it hurt all the more. For that was his intent. Nineteen children. Innocence slain by evil.
I watched Piers Morgan discussing Matthew McConaughey’s address the following evening and it was he who highlighted the glaring nonsensical: at eighteen years old, Salvador Ramos, was three years’ too young to be served alcohol in the United States. He was, however, deemed old enough to buy two AR-15-style assault rifles, without training. The tragic lunacy of America’s gun legislation.
Matthew McConaughey’s address was superb. He gave it his all – and his heart. I see him differently, now; he, who helped us see each of those children. In his plea for change, though, one particular quest struck a chord: ‘We need to restore our family values.’ Therein, lies the panacea; their demise, the poison. Salvador Ramos shot his own grandmother in the face before stealing the family truck and driving to Robb Elementary School. He had no criminal record nor known mental health issues. What kind of person is driven to such depths? One can only surmise as to his issues but, without doubt, he was lost. No secure, loved teenager would contemplate such atrocities; no teenager from a happy home. Few are these days. The human race is spiralling into disarray, the slippery slope triggered by women deciding they want to be men! The bid for equality has morphed into an all-consuming bid to be the same – which was never going to be possible. Something has to give. For, to erase the traditional roles of mother and father is to weaken and, ultimately, erase the family. Look around. Those who pay the price are the children – in every way that matters. Broken families mean broken kids with invisible wounds and that big house, expensive car, that luxury holiday? No substitute for one’s presence. No substitute for time …
‘The love and warmth I knew in that special family was like a pebble dropped in water that ripples through my life to this day.’
‘John-boy’, The Waltons.
Mock, if you wish. One of my favourite quotes, it says it all.
This is Trish, signing off.