Thursday, 9 April 2009

Are you there, ma'am?

OK, so we know one never know who's reading! I don't know exactly who I imagine as readers when I put these posts together (sometimes carefully and at length...sometimes fairly flung down at speed) but mostly I suppose I imagine it's the regular commenters and maybe a few others besides - people wandering around cyberspace, filling in time or more likely frittering it away when really they should be writing that report by Friday or getting on with clearing out the garage. As I've mentioned before I never look at stats or any of that 'who came via what page''s just not something I want to spend time or brainpower then it's a surprise, I'd have to say, when folks show up that you weren't expecting (as happened mean you've not read it..?). You get all...'oh sorry, if I'd known you were coming...I mean I'd have at least hoovered the comments box...I'd have got some posher biscuits in''s an automatic reaction...isn't it? Not even a teeny bit? Even for the most agitated amongst us?

So, with all that in mind, I thought I'd see who else I could tempt out of the woodwork. Come on, your majesty, I know you're out there...

Queen Elizabeth II is the one on the left by the way, just in case there was any doubt, and let's not even get started on who has the most class. So, how might I get her majesty's attention?

Well, wouldn't you just know it, I have a poem about her! I've been meaning to post it ever since we talked about all the things we've ever written poems about (back here – in amongst the sex poems post). It's weird how this poem came about because I don't normally ever read about the royals or give them a second thought (other than to think 'oh please, you're still playing that game of charades?'). But then one lazy night I'd ended up watching some of a documentary about Elizabeth II's 80th birthday and it was so...miserable...and the interviewer asked (to my mind) all the wrong questions so somewhere around then this little poem popped out. I suppose you might call it light verse but that is just not one of my terms (plus although the style may be light-like the content is really anything but...I am quite serious...I really would ask her these questions!). For those of you in the lands of far, far away I should perhaps say that the poet mentioned in line 4 is the very marvellous Benjamin Zephaniah who turned down an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2003. There's an article by Zephaniah explaining his decision here but, you know, people turn them down all the time (John Baker had a list of people who had done the same back on his blog here). I sent my poem to Zephaniah and he put it on his website on the page of other people's poems (which was nice) and he even said my poems were 'buff' (I had to look that's a compliment...). There was also an interesting little interviewette with Zephaniah recently in the Scottish Big Issue (you can read that here). Anyway, here's my royal offering:

Questions for a queen

What do you think of your children's divorces?
Do you close your eyes and dream about horses?
Is it tiring to always be part of a show?
Do you care when a poet to honours says 'no'?
Do you feel like us, do you cry wet tears?
Have you changed, as we all have, over the years?
Has it been a real life, has it felt real to you?
To us it seems made-up, a story, untrue
Parades and carriages and armies of staff
We make our own breakfasts, we run our own baths
Do you like it, would you choose it, would you be queen again?
Or would you rather live quietly, just one of them?
Less money, fewer banquets, not a sniff of a crown
Just headscarves or, better still, hair let right down


So come on, ma'am, what does one think of that one? You can tell us...



Jim Murdoch said...

The thing with 'light' verse is that it can often ask quite serious questions as does this little piece although I'm afraid I'm more interested in the fact that it's Andre Previn's 80th birthday this year than our Liz's. I actually feel a bit sorry for Charles - by the time he gets the crown he'll be ready to drop dead any time soon himself.

Rachel Fox said...

Her majesty's 80th was in 2006...but yes, I know what you I say I ended up watching the programme about her birthday almost by accident. On a related note though I did like the film 'The Queen'...for lots of reasons.


Rachel Fox said...

And I'm sure I've touched on this before but one of my problems with 'light verse' is how it is used as a term. It's rarely used in a positive way ('I love light verse...I adore it...bring me more!) but more usually in a derogatory fashion ('well, of course anyone can write light verse...I mean I know she can knock out light verse, but really, can she write a serious poem?' etc.). That stuff makes me seethe!

(exits muttering...)


Fantastic Forrest said...

"hoovered the comments box"

He he he.

You are always a delight. And I like your poem very much.

Just so you know, I'm reading and enjoying even if I don't often comment.

After all, there are all those dust bunnies in the comments box....


Rachel Fox said...

A delight...oh I like that (I really do). I will remind my family and friends next time I am getting on their nerves...'don't look at me like that...I'm a delight, I am!'

john baker said...

Do you have a photo of that seething?
Does it put your tongue between your teeth?
We had a child who seethed and just stopped breathing
Went blue with a purple hue beyond belief.
But he didn't die; just opened one eye and decided to climb back out of the sky.

Rachel Fox said...

Did you write that specially for me, John, or is it something you've been sitting on for a while? Or is it something famous that I really should recognise...

Fantastic Forrest said...

You give me those family and friends' phone numbers and I'll sort them out for you.

You are a brilliant poet; thus allowed to annoy because you are so terribly gifted.

Besides, you said a nice thing about my president's awesome wife, so you are never to be criticized. :-)

Rachel Fox said...

Now I am brilliant and a delight. I may have to get the doorways resized.

The Weaver of Grass said...

You never know Rachel - her Maj just might be having a browse and read your poem. There are a lot of questions in it that she has probably asked herself a thousand times.

John Baker said...

It's just 4 u.
Happy Easter.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I think writing good light verse is a real talent to be admired. This is very entertaining and makes some interesting points too,

Rachel Fox said...

Oh, you're all just lovely. We've had a crap week here (foul sick bug, Easter holidays...) and you are really cheering me up!

hope said...

I always enjoy your work...and "light" is sometimes needed to enhance the world's mood. :)

Add another question please:
Would you please ask Her Grace
If when Michelle Obama hugged her...
did she make a face?

[I missed the actual footage but heard it was an etiquette misstep.] ;)

deemikay said...

I love light verse and when I become king of the world I'm going to subsidise it's publication in vast numbers. :)

And it is odd who comes reading... especially when I say things they object to. It's happened three times so far... :os

Rachel Fox said...

I heard Whoopi Goldberg (who's been over here recently) on the radio talking about 'the hug' (slight exaggeration...more of an arm placed around a waist). Her view was something like 'I may be biased but I think the Queen was pleased'. I probably wouldn't go as far as 'pleased'...who knows what goes on in the royal mind ( a lot of thoughts about dogs I think largely) however I noticed she put her arm up to Michelle in response...which I would interpret as a message to those who care about such things saying 'I am not objecting to this or snubbing her'...and then she took her arm down which was a hint to Michelle to say 'that's quite enough of that now dear, move along'. But I might be wrong.

And will you name your three significant visitors...or not? And I can't wait till you are king of the world. I will write you a coronation poem!


Dave King said...

I agree with Jim, it asks serious questions, but perhaps the really interesting question would be one - if such a one would be possible - to elicit her view of us - or them. I bet she has no idea what a real life would be like. Devilish brave of you, m'dear - or were you really hoping she'd get to hear and Google you for a looksee?

Dave King said...

-even leave a royal comment!

Rachel Fox said...

But that's the question, in a way, isn't it Dave..what is real life? I suppose HRH's feels real to's all she's ever known (as far as we know).

I guess I partly thought of this poem because of de Botton's comment about being "ordinary not especially posh" in the post below. It's all relative, isn't it...he doesn't seem ordinary to us in many ways (forgetting the false info about Trust Funds...there is still the education, the matter of being a successful author, published by a mainstream publisher...kind of the holy grail these days!) but obviously he feels "ordinary" compared to others he can think of (and I'm sure he's right on that score...just seems hard for some of us, who have had very different "ordinary" lives to see it that way). It's interesting, I think, and of course it makes me wonder...who makes the Queen feel ordinary? We just can't imagine her world, her thoughts, her experiences...well, we can have a go but I'm not sure how well we'll manage it...but she is just a human being (now there's me stating the bleeding obvious!). She's a well-protected one (in some ways) but a human being just the same. Makes you think...that's all.


apprentice said...

I got to "shake hands" last year when she visited our town and the garden I help care for.

I was just struck by how tiny she is, less than 5ft I'd say, and how her smile was warm and yet fixed at the same time - a bit like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland in fact.

Good poem though, it condenses all the questions we'd all like to ask her.

She has seen so much and experienced so much. I'm fonder of her now than I used to be -I think her mother's death has freed her up a lot.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes parents...blessings and curses...

Glad you like the poem, A. I was particularly pleased with divorces and horses (little things make our days, eh!). Plus I like the (forbidden) image of her running around with her hair just loose...even as a young woman (or a child) her hair always looked 'set'. I know it's partly generational but it's not entirely's neatness, order, everything in its place. Totally the opposite to some of our lives...

I do wonder how much the Helen Mirren Queen improved her popularity with some of the public. Hell, even Blair came out OK in that film (no wonder though - Michael Sheen is so endearing...on screen at least). Hell, even Cherie came out OK in that film (largely by not appearing in it too much...she is often her own worst enemy in terms of public matters, I think).


Ken Armstrong said...

It's a great poem! I like the Queen (always have) don't ask me to explain it, I'm packing 'cos they'll be along to run me out of town shortly. :)

Watching your statistics can be a lot of fun and I recommend giving it a try (I can point the way if you want). A little flash fiction of mine had 13,000 visits last week (which is a lot for me) and if I didn't watch the stats, I'd never have known they came by.

I hope you have a nice weekend. Here's a rare and chaste 'x' for you.


Rachel Fox said...

They're running you out of town because you like the Queen? Tough.

Rachel Fox said...

As for stats...I like mystery too much. Take your hymn book page 78.

Rachel Fox said...

Clarification on the hymn book...joke...sort of. There's a poem in my book on that page called 'The mystery retained'.

Unknown said...

I really like this Rachel, I think like Jim that you've managed to ask all the right questions.

Rachel Fox said...

It's so funny...I've never done anything with this poem (never sent it anywhere or put it in anything...probably read it out once) and look at you all liking it (even some of you, like you Barbara, much more proper poetry folk than me!). I can never tell what people are going to like.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Rachel, I just realized I didn't really comment about the poem or the meat of the post. Just gave you some general admiration.

Poetry is becoming more and more a part of my life. Last night, I judged a teen poetry slam competition. It was fun to see the boys and girls present their work; such a variety of approaches. Tomorrow, we'll go to Live Wire! in Portland to hear two-time national (US) poetry slam champion Anis Mojgani. My son just did a project on the Bill of Rights (1st 10 amendments to US Constitution) in which he explained it all in rhyme. Even created some limericks! I was so proud.

Back to your post: No doubt Mirren's Queen made the real Queen more "real" to us all, as well as more sympathetic. What is really real, only she knows.

I was fascinated by the link you provided to Zephaniah's OBE rejection. I wonder if it was widely discussed when it hit the news.

Oh - and Michael Sheen? You've seen him in Frost/Nixon, right? AWESOME film for political science geeks like me who came of age post- Watergate.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, the Zephaniah/OBE story got quite a lot of coverage at the time, FF. He is one of the most well-known poets in the UK (not one of the most critically-acclaimed or, if you like, establishment-approved but very well-known and much loved).

I haven't seen the Frost/Nixon film as yet. I loved Sheen as Kenneth Williams though. As a girl raised on Carry On films I wouldn't have missed that for anything.


Colin Will said...

I like this Rachel (that's the poem and the message). I haven't met either of these ladies, but I look forward to reading comments from both of them in due course - I think they owe it to you.

Rachel Fox said...

Indeed. As a friend of mine's guest list catchphrase used to go 'don't they know who I am?'


deemikay said...

Coronation poem in rhyming couplets please!

My three "significants" were:
1) Michael Rosen (he got angry with me, then calmed down... I think),
2) Magi Gibson (who got angry with me, then calmed down when I pointed out I was being nice)
3) someone who I believe was Nick Laird (or, if not him, his wife Zadie) - they made a fool of themselves regardless. Could be they were just a Nick Laird groupie though... they used all sorts of sweary words. :)

The Solitary Walker said...

I believe the Poet Laureate job's up for grabs quite soon (if the lucky/unlucky winner hasn't already been announced while my mind was on other things.)

Marion McCready said...

nicely done (the poem), and I wish you had hoovered the comments box on the last post!

Anonymous said...

I definitely think you could tempt Her Majesty to comment with your wonderful poem. Maybe she's reading it right now. I have found that blogging is always full of surprises, so you just never know!

Anonymous said...

One finds that very beautiful, however the corgis are very dissappointed that they didn't get a mention.

Thank you anyway


Queen Elizabeth said...


One has been impostered. Off with their heads!

Liz (Queen)

green ink said...

Bloody fabulous poem!