I am not a Monarchist. Indeed, given the option, I would vote for Britain to become a Republic, with a non-Executive Head of State. I would rather be a citizen than a subject, for reasons that the very name of subject should explain.
Given that, it isn’t of that much interest to me that, today, Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning Monarch in British or English history. So much for part-timers like Victoria, no stamina some people, etc, etc,.
But the occasion gives me pause for thought, and a memory.
My junior school was at the end of our street, in Openshaw, Manchester, Back’o’th’Park: Elysian Street Mixed Infants & Juniors. I’m not boasting when I say that, academically, I was ahead of most of my Year, to the extent that lessons on basic subjects bored me, so I was frequently given license to do my own thing, and create my own lessons in various subjects.
I had a small booklet of interesting facts and figures, given to me by my Dad, a promotional giveaway from Vimto (which I have never been able to drink!). I still have this, fifty years later.
One of its contents was a list of the Kings and Queens of England, House by House, from the earliest Saxon Monarchs, up to our own dear relatively recent Elizabeth.
Assiduously, I copied this out in one of my Exercise books, line by line in my best nine or ten year old handwriting, which was to say, better than most but still pretty scruffy.
By the time I got to our current Queen, there were something like a dozen lines left blank to the bottom of a right-hand page. So I took my exercise book to my teacher, showed her my work, which seemed to impress her, and then asked, in a very earnest tone of voice, whether I should leave the rest of the page blank to fill in with more monarchs.
I was seriously hurt by the way she laughed.
Of course it was a ridiculous idea, and given the number of Kings and (occasional) Queens I had laboriously written out, complete with dates of reigns, I should have known better myself, but when you’re a little kid, and a little kid with a neat frame of mind who didn’t like awkward gaps at the ends of pages, it was only natural.
And I think of it today because, had I taken that exercise book away from school and kept it all my life, i still would not have had cause to add even a single line in adult handwriting.