It's our regal history that gives us a national identity
I was a little bit disappointed last Thursday night. I took myself off for a bit of a bike ride around Portsmouth, seeing what changes spring had brought to the city and the seafront.
It was a lovely evening, if a little breezy, but the runners were out and there were cyclists aplenty.
The fact that a multitude of North End drivers took it upon themselves to try to force me off the road, well that just added to the fun.
But the disappointment came from forgetting to look up during my cycle ride, to look at the top of Portsdown Hill and see if I could spot any beacons blazing for the Queen’s 90th birthday.
I’d have liked to have seen that.
I’m a big fan of Her Maj and I think our royal family are worth every penny we spend on them, if not a lot more.
Our regal history is what gives us our traditions, our antiquity and our national identity.
Our grandest buildings were built for them.
The pomp and ceremony that surrounds our state occasions are the envy of millions of people.
And at the head of it all is a woman who, when young, just promised to do her best for her subjects.
A few days before her birthday I’d walked into Gunwharf Quays from St George’s Square and saw a little plaque on a stand.
Stopping to read it, I discovered I was standing on the site of Portsmouth’s first royal dock.
It was built more than 800 years ago by King Richard, extended by King John, and filled in when the dock now occupied by HMS Victory – one of the world’s oldest dry docks – was built.
That’s one of the things I love about Portsmouth, and in fact the UK. At every turn there’s something to look at which has a story to tell.
Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but objects and people with rich histories have always fascinated me.
It means that I’ll always stop to have a look.
And they don’t get much richer in terms of legend and antiquity than the royal family and HM Queen Elizabeth II herself.
NICE TO SEE IT’S NOT JUST THE BANKERS WHO GET OUR HELP
Great news that the government is pledging to put public money into Tata steel to help ease debt financing and attract new buyers for the Port Talbot works.
It means pensions will be protected and loans will be on the table.
Not since the ’70s and the government’s intervention into British Leyland has there been such a significant investment of public funds into industry.
It’s nice to see it’s not just the bankers that can get tax payers’ help.
Losing £1m a day is still a hefty bill to pay for any potential owner, though, so fingers crossed the government’s pledge is enough to sweeten the deal.
The steel works is the lifeblood of a region and livelihoods depend on it.
IF REAPER CARRIES ON, THE ONLY ONES LEFT WILL BE FROM BGT
Well, the Grim Reaper is having himself a bit of a party, isn’t he?
The roll call of entertainers stolen away from the world and sent to heaven seems to be growing by the day – and he even took one of the world’s best architects too, presumably to build some sort of ethereal theatre.
Most recently, joining the likes of Sir Terry Wogan, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, are Victoria Wood and Prince.
I don’t really understand what’s happened. All I know is the ’70s must have been a stonker of a decade for entertainment, and from what I can remember the ’80s were pretty splendid too.
But if Mr Reaper carries on, then soon the only people we’ll have left to entertain us will be from Britain’s Got Talent.