The Diamond Jubilee
It is a pleasure to be able to write this week about a non-political event - The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. And what a fantastic long weekend it has been.
I was lucky enough to watch the river pageant overlooking the Thames. Both the flotilla itself and the enthusiasm of the crowds were an inspiring sight. As I walked down the Embankment early in the morning, cars were hooting their approval of a man dressed in a union flag suit. It was wonderful to be part an event which united people in an expression of unashamed patriotic pride.
The television pictures - particularly the appalling BBC coverage - didn't always relay the sense of the pageant's sheer scale. The flotilla took hours to pass my fixed point and the Guinness Book of Records quickly confirmed it as the largest boat parade in history.
I think we were all full of admiration for the resilience shown by Her Majesty and Prince Philip in standing for nearly five hours in such awful weather. But I hope they were fortified by the Nyetimber and Stopham wines that I was proud to hear were served on the royal barge - a perfect boost for English Wine Week.
It was very sad that Prince Philip was unwell for Monday's concert, and we all hope that he will be fully recovered soon. Many of the more elderly pop stars sang flat, and the jokes from so-called ‘celebrities' in between were generally as unfunny as they were unnecessary. But it was still a great spectacle, capped by a moving speech from The Prince of Wales that perfectly reflected the national mood.
I also thought that President Obama's jubilee message was superb. It echoed the thoughts of our own nation: that The Queen has given sixty years of faultless, dedicated service to this country. It is no surprise that, at the age of 86 and still working, she is held with such respect and affection by the British people and indeed throughout the world.
Finally, I'd like to thank the police officers and PCSOs who helped to keep everyone safe for the celebrations. They showed the very best of British policing and allowed everyone to enjoy a very special event.