In case any of you didn’t manage to catch the Queen’s broadcast this afternoon, I thought you might appreciate the chance to watch the first of her televised broadcasts, from 1957.
I was planning (as is my wont) to provide some facetious commentary on this, but – watching it back – I find it strangely moving, if only because of her obvious sincerity and the relief on her face when she reaches the end of it without fluffing her lines. As you will see, it predates the invention of the autocue.
A small flotilla of swans and cygnets, near Foxton Locks yesterday –
A large brood here (eight). The parents’ (I’m being presumptuous) heads swivel from side to side, on the lookout for danger, like American secret servicemen escorting a President.
Some interesting facts (well, facts anyway) about mute swans –
- They cannot break a man’s arm with one beat of their wing (though I wouldn’t like to test this by experiment). This myth has been refuted by Gustave Flaubert and George Orwell, amongst other eminent authorities. Nonetheless people continue to believe it.
- They do not sing one beautiful song before they die, having been mute all their lives. On the other hand, if it were not for the persistence of this myth, we would be without many beautiful pieces of music and poetry. We should encourage belief in it.
- They are rarely, if ever, known to have been killed and eaten by Lithuanian immigrants.
- They are monogamous. Unlike ducks.
- Julius Caesar reported that the Ancient Britons regarded eating swans as unlawful. A remarkably persistent belief (surviving nowadays in the form that they are all owned by the Queen).
- Graeme Swann, the Northampton-born off spinner, is far from mute. Don’t know about any other resemblances.