We’re down to the last three weeks now, and last weekend saw probably my last free time for some while to come, as I took a few days out to celebrate a significant family birthday.
But it was back full-on at work, and this Saturday (28th) we had a first run through all three of the major services in one day, with the TV crew advising, to see how it all works in the new spaces we have. It was a strange mixture of the banal, the surreal, and the profoundly moving, as we rehearsed words and music that will be done for real in not so many days – with three cathedral chairs in a row representing the coffin that will, when it comes to it, contain the focus of all our attention, and indeed that of a sizeable proportion of the world, if the current levels of media interest are anything to go by!
Before that, as the main photo shows, we’ve been using the time since our main contractor over out to get several other things sorted. In the foreground you can see the large red ‘cherry-picker’ that was one of the machines used to help us clean the Cathedral, top to bottom. And when the top is almost 14 metres above the ground, that’s why some pretty hefty machinery is needed. Further back, taking up most of the Cathedral approach, is a lorry on which appeared all the various pieces of kilkenny marble, carved and crafted, that have now been put together to form the plinth of the tomb. If you visit, you’ll see the ambulatory it sits in is currently screened off from the rest of the Cathedral, partly to protect the guys working in there – but also because we want to keep something back for the main day itself!
By way of a slight change of pace, on Tuesday last week Claire and I went racing. To Leicester Racecourse, to be exact. We’d been asked to cut a ribbon to open The King Room, a VIP box forming part of the revamped racecourse, but also to help cement a partnership between two organisations that have been part of Leicester for longer than many, but until now have travelled pretty much below many people’s radar. And of all sporting pastimes current today, I’d think racing horses is the one that Richard himself would have felt closest to. (Have you seen those reconstructions of Dominic Smee on the back of a real Charger?) The Racecourse itself has made a generous donation to our Appeal, and I have to say I quite enjoyed my first ever day at the races. We stayed for one race, and the horse I had my eye on came in first. So well done Gentle George. No betting, on principle, but it felt good to know I can pick a winner!
I suppose I also ought to mention ‘that cake’. This was a in effect a publicity stunt from a firm who make furniture, rather piggy-backing on the Richard III phenomenon. I guess people are entitled to have a shot at that sort of thing – but we do try to be a bit careful about what we might end up being associated with – and I can assure you the origins of this had nothing to do with us whatsoever. Rather, to mix our metaphors, this particular cake turned out to be a bit of trojan horse – and an inedible one at that. Which is why it found its way into an appropriate receptacle – which was definitely not a Brownie’s tummy! And if you have no idea what I’m talking about – so much the better. And as for the local escort company that offered their beautiful foxy ladies to accompany people as they visit… well, it only goes to show, if they think they can spot a band-wagon in town, some people will try to climb upon it. It’s a mixed up old world.
Meanwhile, back at the more serious end of things, it was confirmed only this week that we will be welcoming Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as our most senior royal visitor for the reinterment, representing the Queen herself. For obvious reasons I can’t say too much more about the detailed preparations for that side of things- but it does bring it home the significance of our royal reinterment. The Windsors coming to pay their respects to their distant-ancestral Plantagenet forbear. There’s a thought to savour – If royalty is your thing. And if you’re reading this far – it probably is!
1 March 2015