Communities across Croydon have embraced the four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend with the kind of gusto you’d expect after a couple of locked down, grim years. There’s been with sandwiches and Scotch eggs, cake after cake, cardboard cups of Prosecco, welly wangling and dog shows. There was even a violin-playing bobby.
Here’s a photostory from the first three days of the bank holiday
From massive crowds on The Mall for Thursday’s Trooping The Colour formal pomp and ceremony, to last night’s latest booing of a Prime Minister outside Buckingham Palace (“Party… And Gate”, comedian Lee Mack reminded his vast audience), the four-day bank holiday to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign has been tinged with quirks and poignancy.
Few might have dared to hope that any of this would be possible when most of us were properly observing the law during the various covid lockdowns of the past two years.
In common with most local authorities, the council’s formal part in the celebrations began on Thursday night with the lighting of a Jubilee beacon.
This was performed by the ceremonial mayor of Croydon, Alisa Flemming, who conducted this homage to monarchy despite supposedly being a socialist councillor.
The other very Croydon thing about the beacon-lighting is that the council chose to do it in the town centre, at a location where the beacon could not be seen from afar – which was always supposed to be the point.
There were other Croydon quirks, too.
Such as the violin-playing Police Constable at Park Hill Park for the Faiths Together in Croydon picnic, as a chorus of “God Save The Queen” was struck up.
A feature of this jubilee somewhat more so than in previous anniversaries of the monarch inheriting her throne in 1952 was the phenomenon of knitted effigies popping up on lamp posts, bollards and post boxes… almost anywhere and anything, in fact, that might be covered in crocheted, multi-coloured woollens.
Norbury, with its Love Norbury knees up at St Helen’s Crescent, has had its jolly knitters for a few years now, and a group in Old Coulsdon has been knitting ones and pearling ones for some time, too.
The craze, it seems, has spread far and wide.
The choice of suitable party activities for all ages around the chomping on sandwiches tested the imaginations of some street party organisers.
The owners of bouncy castles have never done such good business, renting their kit out across the borough, with the over-sized inflatables being spotted over the course of the weekend at some unlikely street corners even in the town centre.
Pub landlords played their part, with some, such as the Bull’s Head, getting their road closed, pitching a bouncy castle and letting the youngsters run wild while the adults enjoyed the summer sun and a pint from the bar.
There were plenty of opportunities, too, for residents to show off their musical skills with live music featured at several of the parties.
Perhaps with a nod to Her Maj’s well-known love of dogs, especially corgis, some organisers chose to stage dog shows as part of the day’s diversions.
On Junction Road in South Croydon, the residents’ association there, with the help of their local, the Crown and Sceptre, staged welly wanging (someone had to) and street cricket.
Up the road, at St Peter’s Church, the gardeners opted for more demure afternoon cream teas in among the wildflowers.
At the Grange Park party in Old Coulsdon, despite civic dignitaries managing to get in on the act, Ukrainians were the real special guests of honour, with local businesses pitching in to assist with picnics for the occasion. What the eastern Europeans made of their locally produced Scotch eggs was not recorded.
Not everyone, it seems, got the memo about being “welcoming”, however.
“Private Street Party” read one sign under the Union flag bunting, managing to embrace passive-aggressive hostility and an oxymoron in just three words.
Quirky. And so very Croydon.
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