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Friday, June 01, 2012

My star turn at the Silver Jubilee

I remember the Silver Jubilee very well. It was 1977: the Sex Pistols were in the news, my mum was busily baking "Jubilee buns"  (fairy cakes with red, white and blue icing), and I was planning my assault on the title of Colebrook Carnival Queen.

It was a big year for the village community association which was fund raising for a community centre. My dad was vice-chairman. The fund raisers included an ambitious Jubilee parade of floats which would make its way to Peacock Meadow where there would be stalls, candy floss and old-fashioned entertainment.

The first ever carnival queen was to be chosen at a disco evening at Harewood House, an event in itself. I had a strategy for success. I knew I wasn't the prettiest girl - that was either Hazel Roles or my best friend Sally - but I figured that I might win if a) I had superb posture and walked tall, and b) had a stand out outfit.

My stand out outfit was a two piece "safari suit" in khaki green, worn with cream wedge espadrilles.

The day before the disco, I went to the funfair and unfortunately knocked my face against the dodgem pole, but resolved I would cover up the mark with Hide The Blemish. My other preparations included a face pack - either Anne French Glow 5 or Christy, a Harmony or Toners hair rinse, and a DIY manicure.

About 25 girls entered the carnival queen competition. We had to walk round the room in a large circle. Most of the girls were giggling and gesticulating at friends but I remembered my posture rule and held my head high to try to look confident.

I got through to the next round which embarrassingly involved being interviewed....by my dad. Wags in the crowd were shouting out my answers and adding "Dad."

The final six were announced and I was in it, along with Sally and another girl from school, Gina, whose parents ran the fish and chip shop.

My dad stood down and we were "interviewed" again by John McGowan, the vice chairman.

The judges conferred and the results were announced in traditional reverse order. Gina came third, Sally (Sally!) came second....and I was first. I was Dead Chuffed, although the congratulations and applause were a bit muted because everyone thought it was a fix. In fact someone told the local paper, the Herald, and there was a story about it.

I was given a bouquet and a record voucher, which I used to buy David Bowie's Low. My dad took a picture of me at home with my bouquet. My mum took the shine off my victory somewhat by looking puzzled when we said I'd won and saying "You won? You beat Hazel Roles?"

Jubilee Day dawned. It had been decreed that the queen and her attendants would wear white, red and blue. We scoured the small ads in the Herald and sourced a former wedding dresss for a tenner.  It was not in the least flattering. Sally's mum was handy with a needle and she had a beautiful red dress with a little cape. My sash had plastic letters which all fell off during the big day, one by one.
Cheer up girls!

We were seated on a decorated ECC China Clays lorry. The procession was the highlight of the day. I have dozens of photos that my mum took as the parade passed our house, but  only one of me. I blame the Kodak Instamatic.

Having arrived at Peacock Meadow, we partook of the Jubilee Tea, which included the lurid buns. We gave out Jubilee mugs and crowns (coins) to the children, and handed out the prizes at the tug o'war. I remember a big roar going up for Sally when she kissed all the participants. No cheer for me. People were still smarting about "the fix."

So that was my Silver Jubilee. How about yours?

2 comments:

Young at Heart said...

oh no....I don't know whether to laugh or cry.......great pics....I remember the whole world being a blur or red, white and blue....mind you at 17 it was all a bit blurry!!

Bill Blunt said...

What a lovely story, Gail - and a deserved win, I am sure. Shame on that local paper - was that the biggest 'scandal' they could uncover thereabouts?!!!

My own Jubilee was spent in Whitby with a pal who had just passed his driving test and wanted to escape the orgy of patriotic excess. We took two girls with us and had a picnic by the Abbey - I seem to remember it was a brilliantly sunny day!

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