The Queen was in town. The old man in bakery down the road was excited about it. My friend Selwyn was excited about it. The two Italian fellows who asked me for directions to Government House were excited about it.
Normally I wouldn’t care all that much about it, but Selwyn was planning on going down to the harbour to take some photos, so I decided to meet him down there for some royale excitement.
It was a hot afternoon and the plaza and street was filling with people. There were a few who’d come prepared with flags, flowers and frocks. I had come only with the idea that I wanted to cause some trouble. I wanted to yell something. Or maybe throw something. I wanted to be a twisted firestarter.
I realised I didn’t have anything to throw. There was a building site behind me and I could have probably found something there to throw, but there were these vehicles full of men in riot gear who would have probably smacked me good and proper if I’d hurled a chunk of concrete even remotely in the direction of the Queen.
So I tried to come up with something to yell. I couldn’t think of anyone unjustly imprisoned to protest about (“Free Lance Ng!”). John Banks was there, complete with his mayoral chains. I considered yelling something at him, but there’s a whole protest coming up for doing that, so I refrained.
There were numerous police there, mostly acting as crowd control. I considered reciting some NWA lyrics, but the cop standing nearest me seemed like an OK guy.
While I pondered what to yell, a couple of women in their late 40s pushed in next to us. They immediately started whinging. Heading their list of complaints was that there were too many police. Instead of acting as security and crowd control the police should have been out catching burglars, apparently.
Next they complained when the Queen’s car stopped right in front of them. They cheered (yes, actually cheered) when it moved on, but soon realised that it was the Queen Car and started complaining that it should move back a bit.
Three police officers and three men in suits were standing in front of the car, so they immediately started whinging about that. Was it really necessary, they asked? Did there really need to be six people standing next to the car?
Eventually a little elderly lady wearing a bright blue suit hobbled into view. People cheered, people clapped, a man near me commented, “she looks quite good, for a change.”
The Queen picked up bouquets of flowers from various onlookers. The two complaining women kept yelling out for her to look at them.
I was still feeling kinda punk. I tried to think of some appropriate song lyrics. The Smiths’ “The Queen Is Dead” would have required too much to be quoted to make a point. Quoting the Sex Pistols and yelling out “God save the Queen!” wouldn’t have had completely the wrong effect.
But then I was distracted. There was a bogan woman with permed blonde hair standing on the other side of me with two little girls. They had some flowers for the Queen. Just as it looked like her royal highness was about to get in her car and leave, a minder gestured for the woman to go over to the Queen. She quickly grabbed her girls and ran over and handed over the flowers, probably closer than any other person there had been.
The woman was really excited and smiling, her daughters were all excited and the Queen seemed genuinely surprised and delighted and gave a lovely friendly smile. She waved, then got in her car and left.
I found myself overcome with the wonderfulness of life. Everyone and everything was lovely, the Queen was lovely, the bogan woman and her daughters were lovely, and the whinging ladies were lovely.
Then I caught myself thinking this and felt annoyed that I’d missed my opportunity to, y’know, yell something. I felt it necessary to exact my revenge on society which I did by paying for the inner city bus zone, but riding into zone 1. Yeah, I’m a twisted fire starter.