Monday, June 13, 2016

Soggy Feet, the Queen, the Basics

I am walking for miles, in heels, from Victoria Station to St James's Park for Her Majesty, the Queen's 90th birthday Patron’s Lunch.

It is pouring with rain and my good suede shoes are saturated and ruined and rubbing a blister into my tender flesh. I have a nasty head cold and my right ear is blocked making me partially deaf. I feel miserable, on the brink of tears. 

How can such a prestigious event be spoiled by something as natural as rain?
It got me thinking that humans everywhere are simple really, when all pretensions are stripped away.

All we want is to stay warm and dry when it's wet and cold and cool and shaded when it's scorching hot; to be well and not sick; to have enough food when hungry and enough water when thirsty; to be able to pee and poo in a proper toilet when we need to go; to have comfortable shoes and clothes to protect our bodies and a shelter to call home and feel safe.

Yes these are our basic survival needs and when they are not met, nothing else seems to matter! Not pomp and pageantry. Not even meeting the Queen!

With every painful, soggy step I take, gripping my colourful umbrella against the deluge, I am reminded of my life's mission to ensure that these basic needs are met in far-flung communities where they are denied; where abject poverty and deprivation cheat children and adults of the very basics of life, and they can't even imagine the luxuries of education, culture and entertainment.

The event for 10,000 guests representing over 600 charities was a spectacular success in the end. I ate my gourmet sandwiches from my beautiful M & S picnic hamper, chatting with the other Save the Children volunteers, honoured to be part of this historic event.

We had with a clear view of magnificent Buckingham Palace and the golden Victoria Memorial, squashed in the crowd of beaming, loyal royalists draped in plastic ponchos. 

The sun broke through and the joyful parade paid tribute to legions of volunteers who have devoted decades to serving others, showing the best of humanitarian commitment to the suffering of fellow human beings (and animals) denied basic survival needs.

And by the way, I got to see the Queen! She was wearing hot pink, like me! Us humans are not really that different. I bet our Lizzy enjoyed a cup of tea with her feet up, patting her adored corgis, after the pomp and pageantry of her 90th birthday celebrations. The Basics, that’s all we need.

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