Standing at the bus stop can take you off on flights of the imagination. Waiting for a Lakeland bus in Grasmere is more comfortable in the rain if you huddle under the rough stone shelter that was built to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. It got me wondering if Her Majesty ever knew it was built in her honour. What if she found out about it in her later years and decided to move. And what if she waited for the bus there every day?
When The Queen Moved to Grasmere
Her upright shoulders are now a little bent
by the sheer weight of decades of wishes,
endless public meets and greets
and unneeded gifts; the heavy aromas of flowers
and scratch of cellophane on a wrist worn out
by royal wave. Sitting still has taken its toll too;
arranging her face for bank note and portrait,
the Royal Mail and commemorative plate.
Retirement and relocation were well overdue.
She checks again she hasn’t forgotten her purse.
Headscarf tucked over salt and pepper curls.
Excitable corgi firmly on a lead after the incident
with Roger Plowright’s brother’s sheep.
She can pay the fine, but oh, the shame,
of standing out when she’s doing her best to blend in.
How many cakes for the village fete
does an offcomer really have to bake
before being accepted as a local?
Even harder for a Royal?
Her famous face in the fells swelled tourist trade
for a while. Or so she read in The Gazette.
Like the hairy biking (or is that Viking?) chef
and Sting. Then everything and everyone moved on.
And left her alone. “One mustn’t moan.”
Her pension goes a long way, more than most.
She flags down the bus, with her signature wave,
and takes her usual place at the front
on the top deck. Carefully pops on her specs
and looks fondly down on her adopted home.
Basket on knee for farmer’s market haul.
Rain beats down on Westmorland wall,
bounces off the cement and stone.
The window’s steamed, she can’t look out.
With silk gloved hand she wipes it clean to see
her shelter, grandly opened on her Jubilee,
when she was far away. Who knew,
as they bunted it out in red, white and blue
that it would one day bring her here,
provide warmth and shelter and something to do
in her twilight years? Who knew?