Trust my dad to add a little Spice with his commentary on Remembrance

PUBLISHED: 18:12 13 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:12 13 November 2018

The Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Cambridge during the remembrance service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London, on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which marked the end of the First World War

The Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Cambridge during the remembrance service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London, on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which marked the end of the First World War

James is feeling older than normal this week after watching the Remembrance commemorations with his father

Over the Remembrance weekend, I noticed there was quite a lot of it on television wasn’t there? It made some nice family viewing.

My father Duncan provided, as he often does at state occasions, a running armchair commentary ensuring old Dimbleby, or whoever, doesn’t get a word in. It went something like this: “There’s the Queen.” Just in case we hadn’t spotted the most familiar face in the world.

Quickly followed by: “Oh and Camilla is with her…quite right too.” In case we thought for one moment that it might be wrong somehow for Camilla to be with her mother-in-law. Then it was: “Of course she must miss the Duke” a tug at the heart strings.

And finally:

“Poor Theresa May, imagine having to walk with that awful Corbyn, I don’t much like his coat.” Thereby bringing a little politics into the one day of the year that party politics is traditionally suspended, 
followed by a lengthy exposition about Michael Foot and a donkey jacket.

The commentary carried on “Oh there’s Kate, isn’t she marvellous.” As if Kate had actually said something or done something beyond marrying well, having some children and having her hair done nicely.

When I happened to mention to my mother that Whitehall looked cold, we all got told to be quiet proving that only father’s running commentary was valid and between him and the BBC every angle had been covered including speculation as to what Her Majesty might be having for lunch, and who might be there, once it was all over and everyone could go home.

The Cenotaph had rounded off a weekend of family viewing which had included the Albert Hall Festival of Remembrance the night before.

“Of course they film a lot of this in the afternoon.” He says it every year.

And, the inevitable:

“Whose that? Vera Lynn never had a thing in her ear when she sang We’ll Meet Again.”

Of course I have to agree with the observation, at least a little bit, because the older I get the more the world looks odd.

For example who would have thought the Spice Girls would be getting back together? Who even wants them to? Let’s hope they don’t sing too much. Apparently Victoria Beckham isn’t joining them, I assume because she doesn’t need the money.

I remember my mother 
telling me that, when Abba were resurging in popularity in the early 1990s and I discovered a few of their tracks gave me pleasure, she remembered them the first time round and didn’t much like them, even though their close harmonies were ahead of their time.

Well, dear readers, I didn’t much like the Spice Girls the first time round as I thought they were all a bit repetitive, tended to shout a bit and weren’t always totally tuneful.

However, the awful truth is that in my early 20s in the mid-1990s I was already too old to appreciate what is sometimes, I assume jokingly, referred to as their musical and cultural gift.

All of which brought me to the sad conclusion that you know when you are knocking on when a pop group re-forms 20 or so years later which you were too old for the first time round.

You also know you are older when you realise that young people actually know nothing, don’t listen to you anyway and are unaware of how much they don’t know.

But once you’re over 40, as I am, just, I’ve noticed you’re ignored by anyone under 35 anyway.

Not that I have much to do with young people, they are so easily offended by everything – at least it seems so – that I daren’t engage with them in case I say the wrong thing like “stop moaning” and “have you thought about getting 
a job”. But that’s a topic for another day.

In the meantime I suspect father won’t even know who the Spice Girls are, let alone care. He liked the Beverley Sisters and Glen Campbell.

Have you seen acts form and reform to your dismay? Who was good when you were young? Does your family give a running commentary to television programmes? Do drop James a line at


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