My best friend phoned, breathless, at 7.25 p.m. yesterday. Was I watching The One Show? Oh, purleeese (or however you spell that). Do I look like the sort of woman who watches The One Show? No disrespect, Matt & Alex, but no I wasn’t watching. “Oh, well, you’ll want to watch it later then, on iplayer. ‘Cos it’s right up your street tonight!”
Have you got a best friend who knows you this well? If not, I feel for you.
I duly tuned in this evening when I remembered, and what my pal knew was that I would love several elements about the show. Turns out Her Majesty loves the musical Oklahoma. So do I. Matt & Alex did a Strictly Come Dancing type of dance to HMQ’s favourite song from the show. By now I am in buckets of tears. Alex’s frock, Rogers & Hammerstein, Gary Barlow, a concert outside the front of Buckingham Palace in June to celebrate 60 years on the throne in my manor. What’s not to love? I applied instantly for my tickets online at BBC.co.uk/diamondjubilee. Don’t miss out.
But here’s what my pal knew I would love. There’s footage of The Queen and Prince Philip after they are married and before she was Queen. It’s in black & white. Natch. It’s of the two of them living in Malta, she the wife of a naval officer. I knew this about them. My parents lived precisely the same life there at exactly the same time. Princess Elizabeth would drive his sports car all over the island, to the beauty shop, get stuck down a rutted track face to face with a donkey who had no idea who she was. She enjoyed a “normal” life and you see them dancing and in love, him in uniform, just like my parents and then I hear that the Queen (who is the only impersonation I can do, by the way) likes my favourite musical. O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A – Oklahoma!
So I’ll tell you my story about seeing the musical live on the London stage, a National Theatre production. Once, for my birthday, we went – four of us, my closest three pals in the world and it had that sexy Aussie guy in it. We’d no idea who he was at the time, in the late Nineties, obviously. But he can sing. What’s his name? Hang on, I’ll Google it. He’s in the X-Men. Hugh Jackman, that’s it. It also had Maureen Lipman. So an all-star cast then.
And I’m having the time of my life, weeping tears of exquisite musical joy, as hit after glorious hit comes rolling at me thick and fast. Oh! What A Beautiful Morning, Surrey With The Fringe On Top. I Cain’t Say No. Many A New Day. People Will Say We’re In Love and Oklahoma itself. I mean, who wouldn’t be stirred? You’d need to be made of stone, STONE I tell you. It must be said in all fairness that there are some awful cornball numbers in there too, but I’m glossing over that for the sake of the story. And I AM getting goosebumps as I check my facts on YouTube.
Heaven! With a capital H.
But here’s what my pals are doing. The bloke gives up early into the first act. He’s smoking, outside. We don’t see him back in his seat all night so he’s there on sufferance then and not disguising it at all well, sixty quid down the drain and I’d be lying if I said this didn’t detract from my enjoyment, nice girl that I am, concerned for others’ enjoyment despite it being MY birthday. And the girls are giggling and taking the p***, and they too can’t wait till they can escape and we can all have some dinner. I’ve never been able to live it down, frankly.
But Her Maj and me, me and HMQ, we know quality when we hear it. And my pals? Well, they’re just peasants.
I’ve been looking for something on YouTube to show you, but it’s tricky. I wanted to show you Hugh singing, but I can’t get the right clip and the film from the Fifties is incredibly dated. And I wanted to show you The Queen’s favourite song, People Will Say We’re in Love., or Matt & Alex dancing to it at the Palace (why isn’t that on YouTube yet?). So how about this then, from The Proms? If you’re reading, Your Majesty, your fave song is the second of two in this 7 minute compilation, starts about 3 minutes in. Enjoy it, with love from your loyal subject and Oklahoma fan, Judith. “Don’t throw bouquets at me…” AWESOME.