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Stuff the Jubilee

I am in the eye of the storm. Here in Windsor, the heart of the grandly-titled Royal Borough, the town has been festooned in red, white and blue for weeks. The streets are thick with bunting; the shop windows overspilling with Will-n-Kate masks, Glamorous Granny mugs and corgi doorstops. 60 diamond offers!  15% off any product with a Union Jack!

We have had the Queen glad-handing local schoolchildren at the Guildhall, squinting at a Red Arrows flypast down the Long Walk, and being impersonated by a lookalike on Peascod Street. The Windsor and Eton Brewery has created three new beers in honour of the occasion.  I see members of the Royal Family – in the local papers, on TV and in the flesh – more often than my own.

Is there any escape? I enquired at the excellent Royal Windsor Information Centre, inventing a visiting Republican father-in-law for the occasion. "And he's coming to Windsor? On the Jubilee weekend?", the lady behind the counter goggled. Republicans in Windsor are like Mormons in Las Vegas. I nodded. 

"Weeell, it's going to be hard to avoid it altogether," she said, gamely delving into a rack of leaflets. "How about a boat trip? You could hire a boat for the day and escape down the river." She handed me a leaflet with a picture of a day cruiser and swans, with Windsor Castle massive in the background. "Just tell him to look the other way," she giggled, covering up the whopping royal palace with her hand.

"Or how about Savill Gardens?" I looked sceptical. A formal garden created in the 1930s for George V and officially known as The Royal Landscape didn't sound like the place to escape the monarchy. "The roses are lovely at the this time of year," my counter lady said hopefully.

I left with a clutch of leaflets. Maybe you'd just have to get out of Windsor if you really do want to escape the Jubilee. How about a nice gastropub? – the Berkshire countryside is stuffed with them. I phoned a favourite, The Palmer Arms in the heritage village of Dorney.  

"Oh, hang on, I'll have to ask," said the girl who answered. "It's been a case of shall we, shan't we?" I held my breath. "Um, no," came the reply. "It's just business as usual, I think."

 "Will there be bunting? Flags?" I pressed. Another pause. "Well, there's none at the moment… but that could change!", she finished brightly. 

I wasn't convinced, so tried another pub, a bit further afield: The Olde Bell at Hurley. It's a converted coaching inn in a quiet village on the Thames, and has a summer kitchen operating in its spacious meadow garden. But would there by Jubilee hooplah going on?

"No sir, just our standard menu," came the smooth reply from the receptionist. 

"No royal-themed puddings? No special discounts for anyone born in 1952?" 

"Not that I'm aware, sir, no."

So there you have it. If you really do want to stuff the Jubilee, get out of Windsor and head for the Olde Bell. You'll spot me in the corner, sipping a pint of the local ale: Rebellion.