Within Arms Distance Of Her Majesty

The fat gray drops of rain splattered about, around my feet, on my new suit pants and coat, mussing my new haircut.

The camera, if there were one, pans up and forward, and you can see a line of people waiting to be admitted into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, home to Kings and Queens and not-so-bonnie Princes.

If you were to put on x-ray specs, for that it what you’d need to see inside the Palace, given no cameras or video recorders were allowed, it would be with awe and wonder that you would gaze about at the marble busts of kings, the oil paintings of the royal families, the stern-faced real-life guards upright and silent.

The Investiture was held in the Ballroom. It was a large room, with red-carpeted seat benches lining three of the four walls, and then seats ordered in the front half of the floor.

We were given an order of service, and then one of the officials walked us through what would be happening. Dancing girls, kegs of mead, haunches of roast boar .. Ahem. No.

We were seated right at the back, and above us was a small Orchestra from one of the Military Bands. They played an excellent mix of old, middle and new music, starting with “When Somebody Loved Me”, the song in Toy Story 2 (Sarah McLachlan sings it).

I’ve blogged about Grandpa’s story, and Mum has an entire blog dedicated to the story of Grandpa and Grandma in China as Missionaries, and Grandpa’s time as a soldier.

The importance of the Gurkha’s (of which Grandpa was a Captain) was underlined in the Investiture. Two Gurkha Orderly Officers attend the Queen as she entered the Ballroom, a tradition begun in 1876 by Queen Victoria.

There were quite a number of people receiving awards on that day. By far, the majority were for non-military reasons. I was reminded of the awarding of a “Colors Coat” at school, and the indignation expressed by some (the relief by others) when Non-Sporting Colors were given.

This is what a military MBE looks like However, in my mind, Grandpa’s award was the most important of that day. Because I’m biased. But also because it was posthumously given over 60 years after being awarded. And because it was for military service.

Two people were knighted. One person was already a “Sir” but got a different Order.

On a more amusing side, someone got an MBE for “Services to Knitting” or some-such. I cast no disdain on the person who received it; But the contrast between an award for battle, war, killing and violence in defence of one’s country or beliefs as opposed to the practice of making scarves is quite stark.

Mum was at the end of the handful of Military awards. As she approached the Queen, things did get quite emotional. I felt Kate (sister) start to feel the same, and I’m sure Dad was too (wasn’t sitting next to him).

There was a lot of weight on this moment in time. There was the amazing story of the last few months, of how the MBE was discovered. There was the life of Grandpa and Grandma White, of which we grandchildren barely knew, but now has been brought to light through Mum. There was the presence of one of the last true earthly Sovereigns.

And there was the memory of  Grandpa himself. That he was awarded this, dare I say when these awards meant a lot more, and that he lived his life without it. That he would probably shrug, wave his hand, and think nothing of it anyway. But that we, his children and grandchildren, can honour this memory in the receiving of the award, and in the retelling of the story.

I feel compelled to be clear, as in previous posts. I do not hold Grandpa in a “saint” status. Yes, he was a hero to me, especially as a younger man, but not more than my own Dad is. And certainly in no way sinless.

Visiting the Queen was an amazing experience. The whole weight of Grandpa’s MBE made this something truly special and “once in a lifetime” in it’s events.

Oh, and yes, Her Majesty passed within a couple of meters of us folk in the back row.

Next in this series is a couple of posts about Ireland, visiting some fantastic landmarks and places.

London Baby!

I’m sitting in front of a very cozy fire somewhere in the wilds of Northern Ireland.

Underground! Last Thursday and Friday I was treated to the sights and sounds of London. I arrived via Fly-Through-The-Air-Mobile at around 5am to Heathrow, and immediately got on the wrong side of the lady behind the train station counter by asking what would be the best train to get to a particular address (where we were staying).

I arrived at the station quite a while later, emerging into the brisk air of a London morning. I wandered around a little, asking people for directions. I finally went into a Starbucks and got some helpful advice. About two miles later I hit up some Police-Folk who advised me I needed to walk all the way back and another mile or so.


In the map Joey! Anyway, after a shower and wotnot, I started to enjoy the stay. We got into the city proper (I suppose), and immediately got into the map.

London is an interesting place. Especially for a mortal such as myself who hasn’t ever been there, and tends to be very child-like in my excitement.

First. Let it be known that it was in London I had my first New York sandwich. Salted roast beef. Some kind of gerkin-ee thing. Mustard perhaps? Whatever made up that delightful piece of delicacy, it was fantastic.

Tiny CarsSecond. Because it was quite cold outside, I figured a fellow such as myself who sweats a great deal would have it wonderfully brisk throughout the day. I forgot to take into account that everyone else doesn’t like to be cold, and so the inside of places is quite warm.

Third. They have some small cars.

Fourth. And this is true for Ireland now that I’ve visited here a bit too. When you look at a building, it’s possible that the building has been around for a long time. I mean, in Aus, it’s an old building to have been around at the turn of the century. Here, wowza. That’s a youngling.

Only being a day after Remembrance Day (11/11), there was a lot of memory around.

Remembrance Day

We discovered a section for the Gurkha’s, and decided to do a cross for Grandpa.

Francis William Fielding White

After this, my brain started to blur. We were given a guided tour of St. Pauls Cathedral. That was a wonder. So much history. One particular piece is that after the Second World War, a fair chunk of the space was given over to architecture for the United States, the men who served, died, and the help that they gave. Also, you get to have a cup of tea in the Crypt. Also, everywhere important has a Crypt. But it’s friendly. No zombies or ghouls that I could see.

I’ve got a couple of videos that’ll hopefully be edited into a single and put up here soon.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Dad and the GIANT lions. Which are metal. But still awesome.

Dad and the Giant Lion

My Time In San Francisco


It was an amazing journey. While I only had two nights in San Francisco, it felt like a lot longer.

Steve was the coolest travelling companion (go those Koalas!). We were the Aussie team, and it was a fantastic time.

I got to play “The PayPal Song” at the big party on Tuesday night. Very cool.

San Francisco is a great city, and I can make that claim from my all-of-2 days in it :)

PayPal’s Biggest Secret

I’m at Innovate09 right now.

That's a BIG Diet Coke You want to know the best thing about PayPal?

The new APIs are amazing, and are the tools to a wonderful kingdom of Scrooge McDuck Money Swimming, but that’s not it.

The direction is encouraging, and obviously well thought out, but that’s not it.

It’s not even that they gave us all a netbook yesterday (Wowza!).

The best thing about PayPal, and it’s their best secret too, because you don’t know about it until you meet  them.

The best thing is that they notice you. They talk to you.

I’m sitting in the Code Pit coding away, watching a whole bunch of PayPal folk. They’re sitting with developers mulling over code, listening to a new sales pitch from another dude with a great idea, and walking about making conversation, real conversation.

That’s the best thing about PayPal. I’ve talked about it before, and it’s as true now as it was then.

PayPal Notice You.

And So We Arrive In San Francisco

So I’ve now landed in a completely different country for the first time in my life!


I’m currently struggling to stay awake, but should be fine. It’s 5pm now, will be having dinner soon.

Innovate 09 starts tomorrow .. CANNOT WAIT!