A queue formed. people huddled together rubbing their hands to keep warm. All eager in anticipation of what was to come. They were queuing round the block. Some, weary, rested on walls or sat on the kerbside, found a pillar to lean on. They waited and waited patiently.
This was reminiscent of the last time there was a royal event in Leicester. On the day Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited, here they were, then in the sunshine in contrast to today’s grey drizzle. The good weather had bought more people out, and the walk there had been made more pleasant by the freshly painted boards around the railway station that was then being refurbished, and the eerily quiet roads which had been closed for security, and Her Majesty’s safe and swift passage through the city.
The people waited ever patient, then the time came, some of them checking on watches or mobile phones. someone came towards the door, shutters went up. There was a jangle of keys. People bid one another a good morning and then they were asked if they had the letter which would allow their access to the building.
There is a moving and important event every Thursday, don’t think we save this sort of stuff for special occasions. The people on these days were queuing for a clothing bank run by a charity just outside the city centre.
Last week I saw a man with what appeared to be a toothbrush, scraping moss out from the grooves between the paving on Charles Street. For a moment I thought how odd this was, but recalling the paving being pressure washed for a visit from the queen a while back, now soon there will be a long dead king passing through, and the inevitable media flurry around the event. Like when you’re expecting judgemental visitors so you clean the main rooms and shove all the clutter in a cupboard.
This has been a good thing for Leicester, I’ve head of potholes being filled in, seen little patches of rough land cleared and litter filled shrubs pruned and shredded to oblivion.
I’m sure we’ll go back to shoving our clutter under the metaphorical sofa after the cameras have gone.
If you are watching the proceedings on TV or visiting for the first time, consider that all may be not quite as it seems.
Perusing the classified ads at the weekend, as I often do, I came across an advertisement for a burial plot. Two thousand pounds. 2k. £2000. However you look at it, however you write it down, for the ordinary person that is a heck of a lot of money when you consider that is just the plot. It does not include a coffin, all the fancy gubbins that go inside like lining etc. It does not include the funeral home which seems to be the default modern day name for an undertakers. Home, funny that. You stay there for a few days and you don’t even live there. Then the cars, or some kind of transport. The ridiculously slow funeral limousines to transport your family, seemingly just to make sure people stop and stare or feel awkward. Few lower their hats today, not enough people wear formal hats for that to happen.
The ensuing fuss and flurry around the reinterment of Richard III reminded me of the classified ad. Reminded me that for most of us the fuss will be that kind of clinging on by your grubby broken nails stuff wondering if you can afford to give your loved one a reasonably decent send off. How much will the organist charge for playing the organ, will you have cars or will it just be a taxi for the more distant relatives? Maybe you have saved up and will have, like I saw once in Woodgate, a black horse drawn cart followed not far behind with a coach full of mourners all dressed in black. Will your budget limit you to three letters spelling out BRO or MAM or will you afford the whole name?
We won’t have film cameras, helicopters circling overhead, soundbites from local dignitaries. Instead we shall have people talking in hushed tones Les Dawson style, and readers of the announcements in the Mercury will read our names and wonder if they knew us. Curtains may twitch but the streets will not be lined with crowds of onlookers.
The reinterment of Richard III has made me consider the deaths of ordinary people. Nobody on the reinternment day will be stricken with grief, nobody will be heartbroken. There will be no-one there whose family is shattered to pieces or whose life will have been changed beyond recognition.
I guess this place will be busy at the weekend. Apparently someone’s getting buried in Leicester…