In those days Princess Margaret of the Royal Family would walk about unconcernedly with just one bodyguard, that’s probably him at the back, and she would go to the shops or have a cup of tea somewhere. You’d see her around and some people would say “Good Morning Princess” and she would smile briefly. When I saw her I would sometimes follow her and one day a blue car came up that I didn’t notice but she did and saved me. Apparently I went into shock and would not speak.
Earlier that day my sister, who was called Susan, was walking her dog Michael along in the dusty end of the town where there were no kerbs and you could start to see the countryside coming and there was a lorry that she didn’t notice carrying produce at speed and she was probably thinking about something and the roar was in her ears almost too late but Michael assayed the situation in a trice and used his shaggy paws in the small of her back and thank goodness both parties were intact as the lorry proceeded on.
Alan, Princess Margaret’s bodyguard, sped me towards Buckingham Palace where I could wait until I regained the power of speech. Neither Alan, nor Margaret (she said no need to call me Princess, little one) nor I were aware that a tiny girl who had been playing in the shadow of the V8 Pilot as it sped towards Kensington Palace had been scooped up by the speeding car and was clinging to the grille supported only by the bumper. The girl was Christine, Alan’s niece not that he knew this until he stopped having sensed that the car was overheating at which point he lifted her carefully up not for a moment taking his eyes off the Princess whom it was his main job to protect.
On our way to the Palaces Alan stopped to get a packet of Craven “A” from a café whether these were for the Princess or himself is not known. He was gone for some time and when he came back he was markedly dishevelled (ébouriffé the Fr) and he explained that even as he was concluding his purchase the ceiling had collapsed of the café and down into it cascaded a man and a woman in their pajamas that was what it was like then sexually who bashfully said that the vigour with which they had been making a love-making session had critically exposed weaknesses in the joists then the lath and plaster of the ceiling beneath that floor.
The thunderous café collapse placed in jeopardy structures along the street down to the park and the small menagerie from which strolled the lion into the room where swathed abed in swaddling lay like a minuscule jewel the child which only moments ago the lady had been singing to sweetly but now her open carry acquaintance strove to tame the beast and it could be said that it was this that enraged the lion I remember when my first daughter was born people said don’t let the cat sleep on her but Lulu kind of seemed to know which side her bread was buttered and was respectful. I mean I’m not saying you would want to put this to the test in this particular situation but maybe it just wanted to lick it or something.
I stood to one side of the great bedroom of Queen Elizabeth and her royal husband the Prince Philip as they looked lovingly down on either their first or second child it is not clear. They understood that I had been struck dumb by the accident but they said ‘Please hang around if you want’ and their quality was very restful. I was thinking ‘Hey, I could even pretend to be more dumb and get to hang with these for longer, just checking out the whole scene here.’ But you know it was an island of calm after all the dire happenings and I found a rising urge to speak and there was a loosening of the connection between my tongue and the cold paralysis occasioned by my inches away from near death in the street escape.
I told the young Royal Parents that I could not shake off the memory of an incident at my mother’s wedding where to the startlement of all present flames roared from her head and shoulders scorching her garments and hair. The Prince Philip asked me Were you in your mother’s womb at the time? I said I don’t know and The Prince said Do the Math. Queen Elizabeth the Queen said to him ‘Phil that’s a bit much isn’t it?’ He said Look would you like to be trapped in a small space for months on end? Don’t you think it would make you very angry? At which The Queen said ‘You’re not saying that this little boy set his mother aflame?’ Philip the Royal Husband said You know just saying.
After what the Royal Prince had said I realised that in that part of my mind where the past resides I had no memories of my mother at all. Was this due to my remorse at my having caused her to combust from within or simply that I was still in shock from the blue car that had loomed and the Princess who had swooped and taken me up? Or was there concrete organic damage to key parts of the limbic system of my brain of which of course as a small boy I knew nothing but then I saw a fleeting image and knew that I had seen it many times before it was my mother in headlong descent pellmell holding two boys one me one who? A brother? Had I had one once?
Thank heavens for that! For a moment it seemed as if a terrible ugliness was abroad but into whose firm outflung arms should my mother almost at the flagstones tumble but those of a decent bloke called Paul Dexter who was coming back from a convenience store and became my father shortly thereafter so you could say she had fallen in love which is always reassuring and as for the little boys well you know the phrase My memory serves me well in this case we can add the qualification ‘but not accurately’ because those boys never reached the ground they are up there somewhere and sometimes on a quiet night you can hear them going ‘What the fuck?’