Sunday, July 29, 2012
Of the Queen and the Queens
As this apparently endless trip continues to unfurl, I'm working hard to remember how very marvelous so much of it was. When an experience ends in a great deal of staring at blotchy institutional ceilings while unpleasant things are done to one, that can be a challenge.
Still, I'm hopeful that the takeaways from Summer 2012 will be mostly positive. The crossing really was a remarkable experience, and not just because Queen Mary 2 is so chockablock with reminders of one of my favorite people, its formidable namesake, seen above presiding over the Queens Room (which one is repeatedly reminded features The Largest Dance Floor at Sea).
We really did have a fabulous time just watching the dancing (and occasionally joining in, the lessons imparted to my sister and me back when we were all going to be pillars of small town society somehow mysteriously still effective). We loved the people-watching that the Queens Room encourages, and happily looked out for our favorites, after a day or two, out on the floor.
Leading that list was an extremely elegant, British-to-their-bones couple, perfectly turned out at all times of day and night (she in tweeds with pearls by day, and discreet taffeta numbers in the evenings, clearly Grandmama's diamonds glittering in a brooch or earrings), who made every number a real joy. Also of note were a Japanese pair, very endearing, who danced every dance, with a very high level of technical perfection, both with the most intense and solemn expressions, as if the whole thing were an onerous duty pressed upon that they were for some mysterious reason bound to carry out.
And then there were all the others, chief among them the dear ladies squired by the Dance Hosts, the retired gentleman hired by the line to ensure that singles and wallflowers get their turn. One enthusiastic foxtrotter d'un certain age looked almost exactly like the late Dame Joan Sutherland (only, if possible, taller), and she always seemed to score the tiniest and most adroit of the Hosts, steering him across the floor in a way that called to mind the ship itself being escorted by a tug out of a particularly tricky harbor.
Now, of course, we are turning our attention to the Olympics, in a desultory sort of way, although I really don't think anything will top the opening ceremony unless they shoot the Princess Royal out of a cannon. I'm still giggling from the astounding vision of the corgis trotting along next to the Queen, striding down a Buck House corridor with the impossibly attractive Mr. Craig. In her late old age, Osbert Sitwell famously observed, Queen Mary developed a unique sort of "film-star glamour," and the same can now be said of her granddaughter, whose Jubilee apotheosis appears to be complete.
And I do think she's one-upped even her remarkable mother, whose love of the spotlight, however all-encompassing, never even distantly approached the concept of parachuting. It's something, though, that I believe, after a certain amount of raised eyebrows, May Teck might have thought a wonderful joke...