It's been a good week for … clutter
She looks like a wee old wifie, twisting away at her wedding ring (his name's Phil, dear) and possibly pondering what day of the week it is or if there will be scones for elevenses. He looks a little uncomfortable, wearing a sideways glance that wonders if the stuffed corgi bites. The scene is portrayed in a remarkable photograph showing New Zealand prime minister John Key visiting the Queen at Balmoral.
They sit in her parlour at the royal Scottish residence - and what a room it is, stuffed to the gunnels with trinkets ranging from family photographs to stones gathered on walks around the estate. Oh, and the aforementioned stuffed corgi, which probably doesn't bite.
It's a jumble of tat and tartan. The Queen's Balmoral tartan kilt clashes spectacularly with the Hunting Stewart carpet and there are thistles adorning armchairs and creeping round the fireplace. It's like a royal shortbread tin.
The walls sport a rogues' gallery of ancestors, and the sideboard is crammed with photos of contemporary rellies. The mantelpiece displays a pack of wally dugs in miniature. And in the hearth, a 20-quid convector heater sits where a log fire might be expected to roar. I suppose you've got to be canny with your winter fuel allowance.
According to one visitor, the room once sported a Billy Bass novelty fish, below. This perhaps explains why, on visiting the Sunday Herald office for the grand opening of Herald Towers, the Duke of Edinburgh seemed unfazed when our resident Billy Bass broke into song when a photographer's flash set him off (even though we had switched him off - honest). I'll never forget the sight of a royal security guard arresting Billy Bass and carrying him off to another room (possibly to be interrogated and dispatched) while the offending fish writhed and sang Take Me To The River.
Back in the Balmoral parlour, Betty's looking a bit fed up with her guest, wishing, perhaps, that the stuffed corgi did bite. She's maybe still thinking about those scones. Fortunately, she won't be concerning herself with thoughts of housework. I wouldn't like to be the one dusting HRH's Balmoral parlour.
It's been a bad week for …
getting a life
It seems there is no shortage of contenders to clean up at Balmoral. A new poll reveals that Britons would rather have a tidy home than go on holiday, socialise or even make love to their partner. A whopping 36% said a tidy home is their greatest pleasure - compared to 34% who picked a holiday and 18% who chose sex.
Pass the duster, please.
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