The Queen's list and mine
Yesterday the Queen honored my husband. ''Services to Architecture,'' the citation read ... but I'm not fooled. Anyone can see he got it for his good looks.
Not that I intend to cross swords with a sovereign (unless it be those who dubbed Drake and Chichester), but I am inquiring as to the whereabouts of the Complaints Department.
As leader-of-the-singing for the world's unsung heroes, I have but one request to make of The Maker of the Medals. Cap in hand, bowl ready.
''Please Sir, may I have some more.'' Within the circle of my daily life (and magnify that by mankind) I can name a dozen deserving recipients.
Take one white-haired great-grandmother, who lives on sparrow's fare herself ... yet daily bakes a chocolate cake for those in need.
Surely a simple C.C.M.E. would seem in order? (Chocolate Cake Maker Extraordinaire.)
Another lass, studying for law exams, waitressing at night ... and mothering a dynamic duo of daughters.
May I respectfully nominate her for an O.M.W. (Order of Miracle Workers).
She already holds my personal award of B.D.L. (Beloved Daughter-in-Law).
The bus fare to Buckingham Palace being beyond our budget, my architect will be pinned (as opposed to dubbed) at Government House, here in Canberra.
In readiness for The Great Day, I've dotted my ''i's'' and dry-cleaned my decorum, but may yet blot my copybook with an escaping giggle in remembrance of a tale recently told.
A dear friend was awarded a long-service medal for 15 years of delivering meals to the ''shut-ins.'' (It only took seven years to put me off soup for life!)
Out of town on the day of the Government House gala (delivering meals to her newborn grandson and his mother), she was sadly resigned to missing her moment of glory.
Several weeks later, while frolicking in her tiny backyard pool in her tiny backyard bikini, she answered a knock at the front door ... to find herself being presented with her medal, in what could only be described as A Very Brief Ceremony.
All the Queen's Honors, like the Queen's Men, line up in a strict order of precedence. Should you wake one morning to find yourself created a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, it may help to know that you're sitting 45 rungs up the ladder from my long-serving friend.
Then again, should you learn that there are 14 rungs remaining to reach the top, you may well turn over and go back to sleep.
To the eternal credit of the Royal Precedence-Setter, the top award bestowed by the Queen is the VC (Victoria Cross).
In Canberra, at our National War Memorial, there is a Hall of Valour, in which all the VC winners are pictured and their stirring stories told.
I solemnly challenge any member of the human race to stand in this hall and not feel humbled in the presence of such honor.
Never having risen higher in rank than motherhood (and there are no medals for that), I often wonder if newly minted knights look in the mirror and see themselves, like Alice, growing bigger.
Happily in this age of equality (and real heroes never look in mirrors) it's more likely to be ''Congratulations, mate, on a job well done'' than any tendency on the part of the populace to back off bowing.
Oddly enough, a Lilliputian effect is also to be guarded against. For years I enjoyed a friendship with a charming octogenarian, known affectionately to all as ''Kem.''
One day I saw his name in print for the first time ... Colonel Sir Alfred N. Kemsley, K.B.E., C.M.G., M.S.M., E.D. It took me weeks before I could stop my knees twitching into a curtsy and start climbing back up to the plateau of our friendship ... which he'd never left!
The strict protocol for the when-and-where wearing of decorations leaves me a trifle bemused.
After all, it would take a daring Dame to wear her medal to the supermarket ... and a supercool Commander of the Order of the Bath to test his out in the bathwater.
Fortunately, the finest decoration bestowed on the human race may be worn freely at all times, by all men, everywhere.
Bestowed by one of few who outrank the Queen, it is worn just below the nose and as wide as possible.