Me and Daniel

Me and Daniel
Me and my then 8 year old son, 20 years ago.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Queen's Car

I've been so negligent of this blog lately...many things have happened in the last six months or so....it doesn't matter what, the point is that I'm back to posting.
I'll start off with an old journal entry from about 12 or 13 years ago. It's the story of how my mother, brother and I ALMOST saw the Queen!....a not quite brush with greatness...hope you enjoy it!


  October 7, 2002
                        

Today I almost saw the Queen. I'm speaking about the Queen of England. The old woman on the twenty....the one whose portrait hangs in post offices across the land... Yes yes. THAT Queen. She of stern expressions and giant yellow hats.

Here is the tale exactly as I remember it happening, and it was just today, so I'd say my recall is pretty accurate. 
 My brother had to go in to Vancouver to get his boat license renewed...he needs this for work, but that's of no consequence to this tale,
 Our mother is in town, so he said, why don't the three of us, him and me and our mother go to Vancouver and make a day of it. Show Mom around and whatnot. We were vaguely aware that the Queen was in Vancouver. Or was going to be in Vancouver. We weren't sure which, but we barely thought about that the whole way in to the city.
We were to learn that catching a glimpse of the Queen is pretty much an exercise in futility. They keep her well hidden from the peons it seems. 

We arrived in Vancouver after heavy stop and go traffic, and, as usual, it was a shit show from the get-go.
You know. Regarding the traffic, the parking, the bikes....the traffic.
We're not used to having to pay for parking, and it really struck us that it's unfair to ask us to pay, just to be able to leave the car outside in front of a building....what do they want us to do? Bring it in?

                   We spent an inordinate amount of time searching for a suitable, and available, space. We fought the hoards of other cars, bicycle messengers popping out of nowhere just in time to cut us off, and street people displaying signs
...('travelling, out of gas, anything helps. thank you. god bless.')(Does this ever work for any of them? I guess it must or they wouldn't keep doing it)
It seems like we spent more time looking for a parking space than it took us to drive in from the Valley.

Finally my brother decided on the two dollar underground parking that was within walking distance of the Government of Canada building that he needed to be in to do the whole renewal of launch operator license.
At long last, with the parking complete, he made his way along the sidewalk, and into the appropriate building.

Mother and I waited for him in a kitschy little coffee shop called 'Death by Chocolate'. We were sipping our coffee and trying to make up our minds as to which decadent chocolate concoction we would die by, when we noticed a small crowd forming on the sidewalk outside.

All at once a very expensive looking navy blue Lincoln pulled up to the curb, right in front of the coffee/chocolate shop. Up to that moment I'd never seen a more posh car. It looked like it was made of velvet. Another one pulled in right behind the first one. And then another. All together seven navy blue velvet Lincolns were parked right in front of 'Death by Chocolate'.

With the Lincolns came a heavy police presence, and a septet of spit and polish chauffeurs.
Suddenly it dawned on me. I said, "Mom! I think these are the Queen's cars!"

She looked at me like I had nine heads.

"The Queen's cars?! Oh I don't think so! Why would the Queen be here?"

"She is in Vancouver right now. Logic says that at any given time she has to be somewhere....Oh my GOD Mom! Look at that one!"

Another car had pulled up and parked in front of the long line of Lincolns, and this one looked like it was made of gold. It made the navy blue velvet cars look like $89.00 beaters.
It was like something out of a fairy tale.....it was car porn.

I should mention that my mother is a complete nut for the Royals. She has magazines and books and follows all the Royal news that's fit to share. She adores the Queen, thinks Prince Charles is funny looking and cried when Diana died.

When she saw the magical golden car, she gave me a quick glance out of the side of her face as she swiveled in her seat and stood up, clutching her coffee cup, in one fluid motion.
She was out the door before I stood up, which I did forthwith, also still holding my coffee cup. As I hurried out the door to see if I could spot my mom in the crowd. She had already been swallowed by the throng. I heard the waitress behind me, frantic,

"You can't take the mugs outside! Excuse me??! You have to bring the mugs back!"

"Don't worry, you'll get the mugs back. I have to find my mother. She's gone to see the Queen....or try to...look at all these velvet cars!....we'll bring the mugs back."

I fought through the crowd, which had thickened up quite a bit from just a couple minutes before...and I found my mother.
She was taking picture after picture of the Golden Fairy Tale Car...the Royal insignia in place of a license plate...a very official, stern looking man with a wire coming out of his ear was keeping a close watch on her. I guess you can't be too careful when it comes to 65 year old women with cameras. There's no telling what they might do.

I found myself suddenly wrapped up in the excitement of the situation.
'What if the Queen came out right now?!', I thought.
 It would be something to see the woman who I've been seeing my whole life on the money, on tv, hanging in a frame in the school office, giving her annual Christmas address...maybe she was in the same building my brother was in! Maybe he'd already seen her, in the process of getting his launch ticket renewed....(I don't know why I thought that. Maybe the Queen had some sort of hat license to renew?)
God, I was wearing jeans! I wasn't dressed to meet the Queen, I thought.
The thrill of the situation overtook me and I reached a free hand out and let my fingertips dust across the front of the car.
The stern looking man with the wire in his ear said,
"Don't touch the car."
 And to my mother, "Ma'am. That's enough. You're going to have to move back to the sidewalk."

We took that to mean that the Queen was on her way out of wherever it was that she was. We scampered back to the sidewalk like a couple of giddy teens from long ago waiting to see David Cassidy.

I heard the waitress through the crowd,
"Excuse me?! The cups??!"

"The Queen!", my mother blurted out.
 To which the waitress replied, "Oh yeah? Where?"
 "You can have your cups. We don't need them. We're gonna see the Queen!"

The waitress grabbed the cups by the handles in one hand. She was not bowled over by the prospect of seeing the Queen...she made her way back to the cafe with the cups as we held firm to our place on the sidewalk, which we felt sure was the perfect spot to not only get a really good look at the Queen, but maybe even say hello. Just then my brother appeared on the sidewalk beside us, wondering out loud what all the commotion was about.


"It's the Queen!", mother said. She was just about breathless with excitement.

"No way. Really? The actual Queen?"

"No.", I said to him. "It must be an impostor...I think it's Freddy Mercury."

"Freddy Mercury's dead."

"Yeah I know. It's weird."

We stood there with the rest of the crowd, speculating amongst ourselves when we would see Her. Finally, after about twenty minutes, and no Queen, the fairy tale Lincolns, one by one, began to pull away.
They left the curbside just as they had arrived. Without any pomp or circumstance or announcement.

We made our way back to the underground parking, to my brother's 1991 burgandy mini van, disappointed that our eyes had not been laid on Her Majesty.
 While weaving through traffic, making our way to the highway, we passed the Hotel Vancouver.

Being seemingly adhered to the pavement, with traffic moving about an inch an hour, we had more than enough time to notice the same Royal fleet that we had just seen. They were all parked right at the underground entrance, with the Golden car nearest to the entrance.
There was a crowd gathered, official looking suits, some uniforms, a few news crews, and a bunch of RCMP.
The suits were walking in a pack. As if they had something, or someone in the middle of the pack that they were shielding from prying eyes or intruding cameras. Like a herd of elephants protecting their young in the center of a circle made of gigantic, grey, tree trunk legs...

They walked in a clump to the Golden car. At that moment traffic picked up and we were forced to abandon all hope of catching a glimpse of the Queen, although, we were all three pretty certain she had been in the middle of the clump of suits on her way to her car.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


2 comments:

  1. Well it made for a good story even if you didn't get to see the Queen. Actually the part that's the most unbelievable part of this story is that you found $2 parking in a big city. Even in 2002 that seems like pretty cheap parking. Or maybe it's just cheaper than in L.A. Once I found $8 parking here and thought it was a good deal.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    Replies
    1. Hey Lee! I know right?! I thought that too when I reread this old piece...here where I live in the Fraser Valley there is free parking all over the place. I remember that day we found some five dollar parking, but we didn't go for it. You can't park anywhere for free in the city.
      Hope everything's good in your world!

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