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January 28th, 2007

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10:47 pm - Tea with "The Queen"

Queen Elizabeth II

Had a lovely time this afternoon and evening with ms_redcat, who I hadn't seen in person in several months.

We met for tea at Alice's Teacup, a tearoom I'd heard about and was curious to visit. We had a bit of a wait -- 45 minutes or so -- so we left our names and then did a little shopping. I picked up a jar of ginger jam and ginger shortbread and one of my favorite teas, Stash's Licorice Spice. I'd been searching for oatcakes, but had to make do with some cranberry oat cookies instead.

Shopping done, we returned to Alice's, where we still had to wait a bit longer, but it was worth it in the end. We were led upstairs to a lovely robin's egg blue room decorated with large chiffon butterflies -- not quite Madame Puddifoot's decor but close in some ways.

ms_redcat and I each had a pot of tea -- hers was an organic ginger orange peach black tea while I chose the lavender Earl Grey when the white tea with rose petals wasn't available. We each tried some of the other's tea, but found that we preferred our own choices more -- such a surprise, that.

Since the brunch menu was still available, we decided to share an order of poached eggs florentine and some crepes filled with whipped cream, raspberries and blackberries and covered with vanilla creme anglaise. Everything was delicious and the berries were quite succulent.

It wouldn't be tea, though, without scones, so we shared an order of two scones with clotted cream and raspberry preserves. There had been a Mexican chocolate scone we'd sampled while waiting for our tables which was quite nice and rather spicy, but I personally wanted something a wee bit plainer if I were to be having a cream tea, so I opted for a plain buttermilk one while ms_redcat decided on a strawberry one, if I remember correctly. I'd never had clotted cream before, so that was interesting. The scone I had wasn't the usual American hockey-puck-in-disguise but something more akin to a somewhat heftier buttermilk biscuit -- substantial but fairly light in texture, particularly when still hot.

After tea we went to see "The Queen". I've long been a fan of Helen Mirren, so I was interested in seeing this before it got its Oscar nods. I enjoyed her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II very much and enjoyed the relationship with Tony Blair especially. I liked Prince Charles quite a bit too -- his character came across as quite sympathetic, unlike that of Prince Philip, who seemed more than a bit cold and gruff. The Queen Mother was very nice also and it was fun to see Her Majesty calling her "Mummy" and running to her for advice.

On the whole I thought the movie something of a Valentine to the royals, showing them as human beings, not just as figureheads of the State and public figures. Mr. Blair came off quite nicely as well and seemed to be an immensely likable man. (Unlike Mrs. Blair, who seemed a bit shrewish at times.) It was nice to see the royal family having a barbeque with the Queen setting out the plates and the Prince Consort getting grumpy over the grill when it wouldn't work quite right.

There were several powerful scenes, some of which centered around the stag subplot. The most moving moments though were when Her Majesty was reading the sentiments attached to the flowers at Buckingham Palace, then when she and the little girl spoke and the crowd's reaction to her after that.

Although my family could not be said to be fervent worshippers of the Royal Family, we always have had distinct respect for the institution of the monarchy. One of my mother's most valued possessions was a commemorative tea-tin from Her Majesty's coronation, with a portrait of the young Queen. I personally think of it as a culturally stabilizing influence, even if it currently has little actual political power. After all, as mentioned in the movie, there have been quite a few Prime Ministers during Queen Elizabeth II's reign, and they've run the gamut from Churchill to Thatcher to Blair. Yet the Queen has always been the Queen, the Mother of the Nation in many ways and the person to whom the people turn, as during the Blitz. When palaces were bombed, the then-Queen, Elizabeth's mother, claimed that she could now face the the nation more easily, since her home had been blasted to bits by the Germans too. To my mind, it would be a sad thing were the British monarchy to become a thing of the past -- I believe there are some traditions that are worth keeping.
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: "Facades" (from Glassworks) by Philip Glass
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(Eat a pomegranate)

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