Rob Rinder: When I’ve banged my final gavel I want golden coaches, big tiaras and hordes of hired weepers

Rob Rinder
·3-min read
 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral was dignified but not fussy and — I thought — extremely moving. As lots of people have said, it seemed to be exactly what he would have wanted. It reminded me that pageantry like this is something of which we can be truly proud. It’s one of the things where Britain completely outclasses the rest of the planet (along with queuing, grumbling and fry-ups).

It also got me thinking about myself (I mean, what doesn’t?) and what I’d be like when I’ve banged my final gavel. Just to dispel any doubt, I’d like something fairly different please. By all means, take your cue from state occasions, but I want the glittery jazz-hands end of the spectrum — the golden coaches and jewels bit. I’d like big tiaras, hordes of hired weepers and horses with big black feathers. Importantly, if I shuffle off before he does, I want Christopher Biggins dressed as a grenadier leading a band playing Lizzo’s Good As Hell. I suppose the Prime Minister at the time can give the eulogy (it’ll probably be Joe Sugg by then). I’ve also specified in my will that there should be a fund so that my friends can all buy something fabulous in black from Vivienne Westwood. When it’s done, people can say “it’s what he would’ve wanted” and it’ll 100 per cent be true.

It seems possible that on a warm Saturday, many people chose not to watch and headed outside instead. Since winter’s hard lockdown got a bit softer, it’s tough to resist popping on whatever still fits and visiting lush places. But as I’ve wandered through the sunshine recently, I’ve spotted something rather ghastly: it appears we’ve all forgotten how to behave outside. I first spotted this a couple of weeks ago. The meteorological lottery had given us one scorching afternoon and — the next morning — I decided to jog to Primrose Hill. When I arrived, I came upon an utterly repulsive scene. The whole place was practically knee-deep in litter: it was like someone had taken the Glastonbury Festival bins and upended them all over the hillside.

I particularly noted the prevalence of debris from the more upmarket shops (especially Waitrose and Whole Foods). Once again, it seemed, the privileged few were the least interested in who has to tidy up after them. I actually chatted to the pleasant Romanian guy who was clearing up after these crowds of shiftless trashers. He didn’t want to be named, he just quietly went about his work. I was outraged on his behalf. It definitely wasn’t an isolated incident — though thankfully I’ve not seen anything on that scale since. I can only hope that — as we get out more often — people will start remembering to pick up after themselves. As I tweeted then, leaving garbage for others to pick up is halitosis of the human soul.

A couple of weeks back, I had my phone nicked and, while the insurance ticked through, I had a 36-hour period without one. I went through the iciest of cold turkeys. As anyone who knows me can confirm, I am totally addicted to that little black rectangle. Sometimes people who have lost an arm or a leg will feel like it’s still there — it’s called “phantom limb syndrome”. Well, I had “phantom phone syndrome” and found my thumb scrolling sadly through the empty air. It was grim. As we’ve all been separated over the last year, we’ve probably become a bit more reliant on our phones. Fingers crossed, as we meet up again, we’ll be able to remember how to leave them alone. Anyway, you’ll have to excuse me now, I’ve got some texts coming through…

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