Norfolk Ski Club, Trowse. The Earl Of Wessex fails to turn up to open the new bits of the dry ski slope. October 7th. 2005. Prince Edward is thus NOT reflected in this locker room window.
So last week the menace brought home a letter from his Primary School. It read in part
"Which one is the Earl of Wessex?" asked Mrs Blink over the tea. "Is he the one who flew a helicopter and was married to Fergie or is he the one who bottled out of the army and organised Its A Royal Knockout?"
She is Irish and has only a shaky sense of our great and glorious royal heritage. In hushed tones I explained that HRH The Earl of Wessex KCVO was indeed Prince Edward. As one we decided we would miss out the chance to see him cut the ribbon or whatever he does at these things but we would happily wave our young menace off to view him.
The menace, however, had other ideas.
"If you come I will probably be allowed to leave school early that day" he explained.
He had seven days to persuade one of us to go along to the grand opening using methods that only an eight year old knows and in due course I found myself trooping along Whitlingham Lane to the Norfolk Ski Club in Trowse to watch The Earl Of Wessex open the new improved dry ski slope. Only he did not come because, we were told, he had been taken ill.
Instead we had somebody who was in the British Winter Olympics team who everybody recognised but could not place and Richard Jewson the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk and Chairman of THAT building supply company. Someone at the back said he probably was mixing his public duties with giving a quote on cement for the next extension which was a cheap joke but one worth making.
In fact the Lord Lieut. was a jolly cove, who went out of his way to talk to as many of the children as he could which was nice because they had been mostly ignored except by the Classroom Assistants who were acting as sheepdogs keeping them in order. Even the menace said a few words to him (and thank goodness for once without uttering vulgarity, blasphemy or treason). He earned his butt of wine or whatever the salary for being Lord Lieutenant is.
It occurred to me that the children were there really as rent-a-crowd; they were a neatly dressed (in their school uniforms), well behaved (with a little help from the sheepdogs), sober audience; something hard to find in Britain today. It is often said that the Queen must believe everywhere smells of new paint because everywhere she goes has been just been smartened up; well she must also believe that the whole country is populated by happy well turned out children. One wonders whether she realises that they are happy because they are missing double maths and well behaved because of the phalanx of heavily armed classroom assistants. The monarchy must depend on performing before such crowds of children and their parents who will not heckle or jeer them. Thus is the myth of Royalty kept alive.
But more importantly for the menace - he was allowed to leave school early