Updated: Apr 12, 2022
We all get driven to do foolish things at times. An idea sparks, and we act on it spontaneously, without thinking of the repercussions. It was the 18th December in the very early morning, the day of my last Bishops Castle market for 2021, l woke up with an idea of what l would write if ever l was to write to The Queen. "What if l really sent my Apostles drawing and some chocolates to Her Majesty?" "Why not?" was the reply from my ego, who usually thinks any idea is one to discard. l will explain. l have always joked to myself, and played that game with others, that one day, The Queen may well visit Croft Farm in Knapton, to visit the chocolate kitchen and buy some chocolate. It is a very silly dream, of course, one that has 0.01% chances to happen. To let go of that idea, when l drew the Apostles At The Chocolate Factory, l decided to add The Queen visiting the farm, and once l had done the main Apostles, l added two silhouettes from the back: one being Her Majesty, with no mention of her name, and one being Boris Johnson, next to her, with a bubble coming from him saying en Francais: "Votre Majesté, bla bla bla". Nobody could really tell it was The Queen, and if they understood the word, they could have thought this man they couldn't recognise had brought a Queen from some foreign country to the farm. The rest of the drawing shows an Alien spaceship, and those have been in the last 3 or 4 Apostles drawings already. We like pretending that the Aliens are after the chocolate because they have never eaten such wonderful morsels. Some years, they are successful in finding the chocolate, other years, they cannot and go off home in a huff. One year, they got a box of Camembert Apostles but Mr Trump was elevated for a while till he let go of the box. It was the first time l drew a political persona in my drawings, l have a feeling Mr Boris was there watching too, saying "Please take me too, l want some publicity, not just him".
This spaceship is hovering above the farm, and as we can see from the first drawing of the Apostles box (where M. Macron is coming out of a manhole, looking through binoculars eying up the silhouette being lifted up to the spaceship) it is the Prime Minister who has been abducted by the Aliens because he wouldn't let go of the Camembert Apostles box he had just purchased. We don't know it is him - there are no names.
The Menu in the chocolate box this year is the final drawing, and on it is an alien face on - when l was drawing l did ask extra-terrestrial presence to help me with the drawing so it would be a real representation of one - but we like Aliens to be nice, so his speech to the abducted person, which he didn't want to abduct, is one of "truth". On this drawing, Mr Boris is represented, but l didn't think to erase some of his dark hair to reveal the "out of bed" ginger hair that he is famously known for. Again, there are no names.
This satisfied my languishing silent wish for a contact with The Queen - and l would not represent her on a drawing again - l don't know how respectful it is or not to do so, l had done it now, so be it.
That morning, before going to Bishops Castle, when l woke up with the spontaneous idea of actually "doing it", l sat at my desk and feverishly wrote a summery of a covering letter, in the best way l could, then wrote an "original " letter, getting frustrated at my inability to form the letters on a straight line (it had to be hand-written of course) and watching my personality being drawn in the formation of the letters. (one can tell a lot from analysing people's handwriting) Frustrated, as l had also made 2 spelling mistakes, l started again, and thought "This has to be it, now l have to get ready for the market!" l did worry that the letter was too naïve, or not respectful enough (l had looked at how to address such persons) , folded it, and created a new Continuum Conceits wagtail sticker to seal the letter onto itself. l was on a mission and l was doing it.
(Photo of The Queen's letter has been deleted for privacy)
It reminded me when l started the chocolates professionally - l always had low self-esteem so to get to the stage where l was confident enough to send something l had made to The Queen, was a big big step for me - l was starting to feel confident in my business. Running to the chocolate kitchen, l put together as prettily as l could, in a nice strong box, some strong recycled brown paper, to make a case into which l slipped 2 colours of the new recycled silk paper - dark grey and pink. In the box, l placed one of the strong pink boxes of what l called "Single selection of Apostles selection" (the box with one of each of everything, including the "Custard apple Bum" which l had made this year out of cheek - £26.50 per box); a box of mixed chocolates Agen prunes stuffed with Armagnac prune purée, and a bar of Annalisa's favourite Fig, Pistachio and Cardamom tablette in dark chocolate.
As carefully as l could, l placed the covering letter which l had placed in a handmade envelope, (most things are handmade in this household) and a colourful business card. The box had the same decorative address label as my customers were able to enjoy since October this year, and another sticker of my new Continuum Conceits Queen's label (l was proud of the wagtail wanting a new outfit to go out in!) to finish, on the top left of the box. The box was ready!!!
The box was sent that day, to Buckingham Palace from Bishops Castle post office, first class. The lady serving was giggly about it and said she hadn't ever seen a parcel addressed to Her Highness before. l explained it was a small gift of chocolates.
l had found out The Royals get hundreds of gifts all the time, and probably thousands around Christmas. l thought "l have done it now, so be it" not hoping anything in return, and thinking to myself: "It will just be lost in the thousands of parcels, at best hopefully one of Her secretaries will open it and enjoy the chocolates or give it to her entourage or local charity. l don't know what they do with all their gifts. l saw a photo and there were lots of huge teddy bears in the office they open the parcels in. l find it odd to send a teddy to The Queen, but maybe it is not any odder than sending a drawing of Aliens in a chocolate box. When l told someone close l had done this, they said: "You will get a reply, every gift gets an acknowledgement. " That was nice news, but l would believe it when it would happen. So it happened... on the 21st January, my landlord Mick popped through the door, in his mechanic uniform of which the zip is half broken, and with his engine-oiled brown fingers , waved the letter, looked at me, looked at Barry who was helping me slaving away making caramel bars for the coming review of Annalisa. l said "What are you bothering us for in this outfit! What is it? A bill? A problem? Am l being sent back to France? " He said "It is from Windsor Castle".
Needless to say we abandoned tempered chocolate, caramels and moulds, and devoured the letter carefully.
I was expecting just a regular, printed copy general acknowledgement of reception, but it was more than that. It had ... a mention of the "little picture you have designed"!!! This made me so happy - that it was granted attention (by someone). The whole letter had taken trouble and time for Lady Gordon Lennox. If it had been sent to Buckingham Palace, yet the letter coming back was from Windsor, where she lives, there was a slim chance that Her Majesty may well have glanced over the parcel, and instructed her Lady-in-waiting to send a polite reply. Of course, it could be that they just send the replies from there, to make people think they are being heard - and that is ok too - but it made me feel joyful. Following a spontaneous, "silly" thought actually went further than l imagined. Thank you to the Lady-in-Waiting, and thank you the UK to have such persona as part of your political system and government.
Thank you, Her Majesty.