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Raise a toast to Liz... just as long as it's buttered!

Byline: DanO'Neill

Eever since my romance with her sister was so cruelly ended the Queen's had a soft spot for me.

"Dan," she said at the time, "if you hadn't been a Mick, who knows? One always thought you was our Maggie's soulmate, the only one who could keep up with her in the pub." But I was a Catholic before I met Richard Dawkins and in those distant days that was enough for the Government's spooks to step in and hand me a one-way ticket to Canada.

But I've kept in touch with big sister Liz who, let me remind you, is 86 years old on Saturday. As always, I shall give her a call - no, you can't have her number - and ask the same question: "Liz, now that the Queen Mum's gorn orn, why haven't you inherited the title? Why aren't you the Nation's Best Loved Grannie?" And she will reply: "Nation's Best Loved Grannie? I should cocoa. Listen, Daniel, you should know what that would mean. Especially on my birthday."

Well yes, I do know what that would mean because every August 5, the day after her birthday, I'd meet up with the Queen Mum in the Incontinent Corgi just round the corner from Kensington Palace - she had a soft spot for me as well, called me the son-in-law who never was - and we'd chat over a quiet pint. She always had her G&T in a pint pot, saved queuing up at the bar, she'd say.

And that's how I know what the Queen means when she says being the NBLG would ruin her birthday routine.

The Queen Mum spelled it out for me the day after her 95th. "Dan," she said, before downing half a pint, "thank God it's all over for another year. This blasted birthday thing is beginning to give me a pain in the royal rump."

But why, oh Nation's Best Loved Grannie, I asked, are you feeling so Bolshie, if you'll pardon the expression seeing wot those Bolsheviks did to your second cousin by marriage, the Tsar? Well, if she told her daughter what she told me I can see why Liz doesn't want to be the NBLG.

"Because," said the Queen Mum, "I always get that same nutter bellowing his home-made 'poetic tribute' at me. Makes Papa's old mate McGonagal sound like Shakespeare. Listen, we got a Poet Laureate for that sort of thing. Mind you, he's not much better."

the Ah yes, said the Queen when I told her. "That bloke gets right up her nose. Mind you, his nose is only about a half inch from hers before he's finished his tribute and his breath - blimey, she says it's enough to straighten her perm. And there's always that weirdo wearing a Union flag coat with a little red white and blue umbrella stuck to his bonce. And what about the same pain in the pardon-me-if-I-don'tspell-it-out who turns up with a 14lb cake and tells her not to eat the little princess on top because it's made of plastic and you remember when you got that fishbone stuck in yer throat in 1982 Ma'am."

I know Liz, I know how she felt.

She used to moan about Palace pushy parents shovin' their little darlings at her with bunches of flowers - "And me with my hay fever," she'd say. "Flamin' walkabout. If only they knew what I was thinking while I gave 'em my radiant smile. Never mind me rheumatics."

I'm sorry, NBLG, I'd tell her when she was halfway through her second pint, but they are not there because they love and revere you.

They are there to get their pictures in the papers and on the telly, they are there to get that fabled 15 minutes of fame through your walkabout."

So now you know why the Queen doesn't want to be the Nation's Best Loved Grannie even though her grandkids are a bit more appealing than the Queen Mum's lot - Charles or William? Andrew or Harry? And why there'll be no early morning walkabout on Saturday. Instead, let us leave Liz in bed with her tea, her toast and her Racing Post and hope she picks a couple of birthday winners.

I'll give her a call on Sunday, let you know how she got on.

NOW HAVE YOUR SAY Do you agree with Dan? email dan.oneill@walesonline.co.uk AND FINALLY... By the time you read this, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja might be dead.

This fighter for democracy and human rights was jailed by the Bahraini Government a year ago and to protest at his treatment began a hunger strike in February 8. Naturally, Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One guru, has not been to visit al-Khawaja. He's too busy with the Bahrain Grand Prix to be held on Sunday.

No-one with a conscience should watch it. In fact, it should not be shown.

CAPTION(S):

* Should we really be flagging up the Queen's birthday, even if it is the Diamond Jubilee year?
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 18, 2012
Words:834
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