This morning my brisk walk around the terrace turned into an irresistible march.  After only one lap, the Massed Band of the Household Division, in the  barracks nearby, suddenly struck up with a spirited rendering of  ‘The men of Harlech’.  Remembering all that square bashing I did during my National Service days (63 years ago!), I fell in step immediately.  If I’d had my rifle, I’d  have presented arms!  Good thing no one could see me.  I’d have looked like the grandpa in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

We have heard the band practising all week, preparing for this morning’s special changing of the guard ceremony in the castle quadrangle on the Queen’s official birthday.  An extra large Royal Standard flies proudly from the Round Tower and we’ve just watched the ceremony on TV, sometimes stepping outside to hear the real thing carried to us on the wind.  It must have been weird for the Welsh Guards  to be marching silently on grass instead of hearing the heartening crunch of boots on tarmac or gravel.  During basic training at Oswestry all those years ago, we had endless drills on an unforgiving parade ground, with so much marching and stamping of feet that we all suffered from bruised heels. Very painful.  Marching on grass was not an option.

I keep hearing gloomy reports about how the NHS has had to cancel numerous routine operations and will be playing catch-up for years to come.  I was therefore amazed to get a phone call from St Thomas’ Hospital giving me an appointment to have my cataracts done.  In the scheme of things, sorting out my eyes seems trivial, but they seem keen give it a go on 23 June. They asked me if I was anxious about picking up the virus in hospital. I told them I thought I’d be safer there than anywhere else. They liked that answer (creep!) but nonetheless are proposing to do both eyes at the same time to save a second visit. I have to go back into strict isolation for 14 days before and after, so my plans to break free and become more adventurous have been put on hold.  Still, I’ve become so accustomed to the routine of self-isolation that doing another spell is no real hardship.

I’m intrigued by the current backlash against statues, standing tall on their plinths, of people once revered but now judged by some to be dodgy.  I used to do London walks clutching a guide book about monuments and statues. It was fascinating to read about the lives of, usually, Victorian dignitaries.  Removing  statues for safekeeping, albeit temporally, reminds me of the chequered history of the bronze equestrian statue of Charles 1st at Trafalgar Square. During the Civil war the Puritans ordered the statue to be destroyed and it was sold for scrap to a man called John Rivett who pretended to have broken it up  but buried it in his garden (he dug a big hole: the king was only 5 feet tall but, including the horse, the overall height of the statue was 9ft 3ins and the length, head to tail, was 7ft 9ins).  Apparently, Rivett kept up the pretence that he’d destroyed the statue by selling souvenirs supposedly made from its metal, many bought by parliamentarians as trophies.  After the Restoration in 1660,  Charles 2nd bought the statue of his martyred father and had it erected looking down towards the Banqueting House in Whitehall where he had been executed in January 1649.

So, perhaps the answer is to remove offensive statues and bury them on the off chance that one day it might be safe for them to be dug up again.

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