miércoles, 27 de abril de 2011

Royal wedding early birds enjoy media spotlight - The Guardian

Still with 48 hours to W Day the royal watchers had pitched their bivouac tents, unrolled their sleeping bags, unveiled their William'n'Kate teatowels and established base camp on the pavement opposite Westminster Abbey. As they were directly under the triple-decker stand occupied by banks of television cameras, crews and journalists with nothing else to do, there were more interviews going on than on the red carpet at Cannes.

In the sun the earliest arrivals – some already into their second or third days – were telling their stories, of how they had been awakened in the middle of the night by the noisy arrival of crash barriers and then woken a second time a few hours later by the troop rehearsal in the empty streets at 4am, opening their eyes to the snorting and stamping of horses on the road a few feet away.

In the centre, and an undoubted star, was John Loughrey, a former cook and one of the world's great solipsists, who regards no royal event as complete without his presence. He attended every day of the six-month inquest into Princess Diana's death three years ago, with her name smeared in crayon across his face, and he is back again in pole position, this time dressed in a union flag beanie hat, an apron made out of a William and Kate tablecloth and a similarly inscribed T-shirt lovingly embroidered with the handmade legend: "Diana would be proud."

Wind him up and there's no stopping: "I was interviewed from 7am to 9pm yesterday – they couldn't believe I could go on so long. I am famous all over the world. Diana will be there. She'll be shedding a tear. I arrived here on Monday just as Big Ben struck five and that was just like she was there – five letters in her name, you see? I am in five books now and the BBC are making a documentary about me."

Robbie Burns comes to mind: "Oh would some power the gift give us/ To see ourselves as others see us!"

Further along, Joan Cameron was guarding a tent for a young American, her own sleeping back rolled neatly at her feet. She lives in Perth, Western Australia, but is on holiday with relatives in Inverness: "I have never done this before and I thought: why not? It's a once in a lifetime opportunity: they are a lovely young couple aren't they? I feel I am part of something that is a wonderful worldwide event."

A few feet away, Geraldine Maclaine, 73, from Woodford, Essex, is confounding Guardian stereotypes by being a loyal reader who has already taken up her place: "I was here for Charles and Diana and Sarah and Andrew – mind you, those didn't turn out well – but I think these two are better matched. I was a bit younger when I camped out then, if I get down now I might not get up again."

London office workers squeezed by, cursing, while tourists gawped: "These guys are pretty crazy, right?" said one American. Nearby, to add to the hucksterism, a man from a bookmakers was holding a board offering 6/1 that Prince Philip falls asleep during the service and 5/1 on Prince Harry dropping the ring.

Along the Mall opposite Buckingham Palace a media village is gathering, a bank of temporary studios several storeys high looming over the flower beds.

A young Fox News correspondent with spun blond hair atop a spun yellow suit was beaming her views to the breakfast show back home, teetering on high heels which her audience could not see and then swapping them for diamante-studded flip-flops when the camera was turned off.

Montreal visitor Barbara Piwinski and her friend Diane Gravel, just off the plane – "we can't check in to our hotel till 2pm" – were blearily taking in the sights: "It's a lifetime's experience. I changed my holiday dates specially to be here," confided Piwinski.

One group who won't be there on Friday are the Muslims Against Crusaders demonstrators who had threatened to protest, but have now called off their plans, having garnered their publicity.

Down the Mall roadsweepers were hard at work – Veolia Environmental Services, the contract cleaners, reckon they will collect 140 tonnes of rubbish on Friday night – and a final coat of paint is being applied to a television tower. All is nearly ready.

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