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By appointment

I know it’s a bit late now, but I must mention the official opening of the brand spanking new and very, very expensive Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood which took place a few Saturdays ago.

Alice had been badgering me all week to take her to see the queen and I have to admit that I wasn’t over enthusiastic to say the least. The few times that I’ve seen the queen in my life have been on major occassions like Charlie & Di’s wedding and it’s no fun, is it? I can remember standing crushed against a barrier for hours, only to see the entire royal family flash past in a matter of seconds. I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience with a six year old on a freezing Scottish Saturday afternoon.

However, come two o’clock when she asked again for the twentieth time, guilt got the better of me and I gave in. We got dropped off at Abbeyhill and made our way down towards Holyrood, pushing through the, er, almost totally absent crowd. I knew we hadn’t got the wrong day because we’d seen the queen on TV just minutes before we left the house, so where were the hoardes of royal watchers? We strolled right up to the main entrance and positioned ourselves on a concrete block about 6 feet from the barrier. I was convinced we must have missed her, the Royal Palace being a mere 100 metres from where we stood. She was probably back in her sitting room laughing at us from the window.

But no. A sudden burst of activity as police lined the barrier and the crowd doubled in size, swollen by the mass of plain clothes security people: you could easily spot the little plastic curly wire running from the collar to the ear. And there she was, right in front of us about 8 feet away, dressed in shocking pink and royal waving as she strolled slowly past. Needless to say, Alice was ecstatic. I took a couple of quick snaps with the camera phone, no mean feat with a six year old perched on your shoulders while teetering on the edge of a three-foot drop into an icy pond. Unfortunately, the camera phone being a crappy little device, you’ll need to play spot the queenie. At least you can’t see how much makeup she had on. Absolutely plastered in the stuff.

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