The Queen's birthday - many happy returns Ma'am! - is on 21st April. Her official birthday is on 11th June. But those dates don't work where I am. Too sodding hot. So Chennai celebrated Her Maj's big day tonight.
Great to be there - but why was the beer on offer the lamentable (on the grounds of taste, however you define it) 'British Empire' - a brew which encapsulates British imperialism: strong, tasteless, and leaving an unfortunate aroma on the palate.
When I got the invite, I thought the evening might amount to a couple of dozen ex-pats round a swimming pool. Wrong! The British Deputy High Commission's grounds here in Chennai are almost as big as Buckingham, Palace. Hundreds gathered ... I spotted a former head of India's Intelligence Bureau in the crowd. And in case you think this was just a huge jolly, there was touting for GB to be done ...
A charming choir sang 'Jana Mana Gana' - India's national anthem - with a touch more enthusiasm than anyone could raise for Lillibet's song. Britain's top dip here is Bharat Joshi - is he the only British diplomat to take the name of the country in which he is posted?
And as we all consumed a splendid Indian meal, the band started playing classic rock numbers dating back to an era beyond even my recall. Yeaaaaah!
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