It's like some unwanted drinking game - the number of times I have heard 'it's history in the making', 'it's part of history', 'history is unfolding' etc etc. as they interview countless people as to why they are queuing for the various events, or the presenters themselves making filler talk. The procession of the late Queen in Scotland, then to London, has been filling the main television channels all week. The huge crowds paying their respects are almost mindboggling - the queue has reached 5km long to view the Queen lying in state. I'm sure for some people it's FOMO rather than genuine grief but still. I've been watching it off and on - I think my mother in law has scarcely moved from her living room. I feel like I am getting used to the concept of 'king not queen' more now, but it's still very sad.
On a personal note, the funeral has been set for the day I am flying to Italy. Obviously that rules out my original plan of trying to negotiate London by train to reach Gatwick airport since they are expecting literally millions of people to be flooding in for the funeral. So far my flight hasn't been altered again, although Heathrow have announced changes to flights to minimise overflying at the time of the funeral in London. As the day of the funeral has also been announced as a bank holiday, DH has kindly agreed to drive me down to Gatwick. I've spent the week packing and repacking, trying to get my backpack weight down to a bearable level. It's still heavier and fuller than I would like. Also apparently the temperature is going to vary from 27 degrees to as low as 15 degrees in Italy which has made it difficult choosing clothes to take. I spent a few hours trying on lots of things, wishing I was 20 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. Hopefully the final result is what I will need, and not more than I will need. Packing for two weeks is pretty much the same as packing for two months in the end. It doesn't look very big in the picture but it weighs about 15 pounds.
I spent some time this week restoring a folding Victorian lap desk that I think I bought at the Lamport Easter antiques fair, although I don't appear to have blogged it at the time - probably because I was in the home stretch of getting ready for my Paducah trip then. I'd been looking at folding desks for a few years now because I like them, but normally they are fairly expensive. This one was quite reasonable, I think because there was some missing veneer, some previous veneer repairs, no key, and a number of minor faults including a bent hinge (probably caused when the box was jemmied open) and a split in the bottom panel. Originally it was quite a smart box, with mother of pearl inlay in the centre and around the lock, and small MOP disks in the corners. Connecting the mother of pearl inlay is a silver metal strip inlay (one is missing but the others are still there). The baize on the bottom had perished, but the original writing surface is still good. After giving the box a good clean with wax remover, I started rectifying some of the damages: I glued in the loose partition, glued the split in the bottom, took off the bent hinge and straightened it, took off the keyless lock plates, replaced the missing veneer in two places on the side (fairly successful) and camouflaged the damaged area near the lock from when it was jemmied (better but not as good as the side repair). I colour matched the new veneer as best I could with stain, and also touched up various small damaged areas with stain. Then I gave the whole box two coats of wax so it's nice and shiny now. I ordered new baize for the bottom and attached that, glued down some loose writing surface and added the missing pull tab to open the hinged flap. For the key-less lock, I've just removed the locking pins, polished the brass and put the lock plates back into position. Without a key, it wasn't going to be possible to lock the desk anyway, and this way it can't become locked by accident. I looked into finding or making a replacement key but it's a fairly random process of finding a new or antique skeleton key to fit the lock and it didn't seem worth buying loads of possible keys just for one desk. I don't write many letters by hand these days but I'll have to try it out now it's finished.