Fordyce Maxwell: Honestly, I was just there for the food and family company. Royalty wasn’t mentioned

MY LATEST best-laid plans went agley last Monday when, having vowed privately and stated publicly that I would be far from any Jubilee celebration I found myself at a street party.

As the first person I met, a Scotland on Sunday reader in a frizzy red, white and blue wig, was happy to remind me. “Ahah,” he said, or something to that effect, “caught out.”

He didn’t follow up with “Where’s your republicanism now?” but that was probably because he was too busy turning burgers and spearing sausages. Two hi-tech gas barbies on the go, it was a man’s world on the catering front in a packed street.

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Honestly, I was just there for the food and family company after a hard morning in the garden. Jacqueline and Nolan’s offer of a cool drink and a hot dog plus an hour or two with the grandchildren was tempting. No one mentioned royalty.

Ebba, four, and Isla, 20 months, enjoyed the afternoon. Once outside a serious amount of party food, Ebba was adopted by a trio of nine-year-old girls while Isla spent most of her time in wellingtons, blonde curls bobbing, tramping in a puddle formed by melting ice from the beer cache.

Mercifully, there was no fancy dress. Discussing the Coronation recently with one of my sisters, all she could remember of that day in 1953 was that it was wet, proceedings moved inside to the main shed of the local agricultural engineer, and she and another sister went as Dutch flower girls.

I guess I wore fancy dress too, but have blotted out that memory of the last time I took part in a royal celebration and the second-last time I was in fancy dress. All evidence of the last time I wore it, on a college rag-day football club float, has been destroyed. It was certainly the last time I wore a bikini.

So no fancy dress as I kept my profile low. But there was a quiz. To my own horror, the old competitive spirit kicked in and I persuaded Liz to take part. I knew she knew quite a lot about royalty. What I hadn’t realised was that she could go on Mastermind.

There were 22 questions and I chipped in on a few, such as the number of US presidents the Queen has seen off and a good guess on the type of racing she supports apart from horses. Yup, pigeons. Horror was compounded when our entry won with, to my mortification, 20 correct answers. But, sneakily, we’d put Ebba’s name on the sheet. She’ll be allowed to drink the bottle of wine we won about the time of the Queen’s centenary celebrations.

• Last week Fordyce... went to see a terrific two-handed staging of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists then re-read the book. It didn’t make up for his Jubilee party apostasy, but it helped