I’d Be Honoured! By Trevor Plumbly
It’s that time again: Queen’s Birthday Honours! And I’m eyeing the postman with all the expectancy of Hyacinth Bucket waiting for the mayoral invitation. Surely Her Majesty won’t overlook me again? I know I’m tucked away a bit down here, but that shouldn’t be a problem with communication the way it is these days. Unless some bugger in Wellington is putting the diplomatic boot in, it must be my year. A knighthood? Thank you, but no, perhaps later when she’s run out of pop stars. In the meantime, something a bit more modest; an O.B.E. seems about right, enough to draw respect but not attract attention. As I write I can see the entry in the list: ‘Trevor Plumbly of Auckland, New Zealand, for services to…’ What exactly? Maybe that’s the hold-up; she simply can’t decide which peg to hang the gong on. In truth, there aren’t that many pegs to choose from, as I’ve led a fairly banal sort of life, but I don’t see why that should be a handicap.
All over the Commonwealth, thousands of these honours get doled out to all sorts of worthies for all sorts of services from cookery to comedy, whilst millions of us wait in vain for the postman. It’s just not fair! Rowers and cyclists get the damn things for basically getting from A to B without sinking or falling off too many times. Captains of industry get them for ‘services to commerce’. How does one serve commerce, pray tell? Feed it a few bob for lunch? Come on now! Whilst lacking medals and millions, I feel that I’ve done my bit; nothing flashy, mark you, but honest toil. I was a paper boy in Tunbridge Wells at the age of twelve; harsh winters never deterred me from trudging those hills to deliver The Times and The Telegraph to the good burghers of Broadwater Down. Later contributions were low key and deliberately so. Like millions of like-minded folk, I shun the limelight; more the bulldog than the greyhound, so to speak. And that’s my point, let’s do away with the ‘shining armour’ and honour the ordinary bloke and blokess. Since it’s my idea, I reckon I should be in the front line. Never mind the postman, I can see the entry in the list: ‘Trevor Plumbly of Auckland, New Zealand, for services to….Mediocrity.’
Does not the the spirit of the distinguished former paper-boy still resonate to the lines of Sir Henry Newbolt in Vitaï Lampada:
“There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night —
Ten to make and the match to win —
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
“Play up! play up! and play the game!” …etc ?
The only one who ever smote me on the shoulder was the truancy officer! TP