Hospital corners and old-fashioned comfort
SO … although Windsor Castle has adopted duvets for its visitors and ditched the old fashioned sheets and eiderdowns, the Queen is sticking to tradition. Our sovereign likes to be ‘tucked in nice and comfy’ according to a ‘well-placed royal source’. At 90 – why shouldn’t she?
Her Majesty apparently likes the feel of a ‘well-made bed’, and I’d also like to think she is not averse to a hot water bottle when her toes get chilly.
I couldn’t wait to get rid of sheets and blankets. As a child I remember them sliding off as I slept or becoming so tangled up in them I was in danger of being mummified before I could kick myself free.
The day after I left school, I and two friends left for Skegness to work at Butlins Holiday Camp for nine weeks – the whole of the summer holiday. We were chalet maids – as students, you got the unglamorous jobs – and on our first day, decked in droopy green overalls, we were taught how to do hospital corners with old-fashioned sheets. Our very strict supervisor Mrs Eyles (like Peggy’s Miss Cathcart in Hi-di-Hi) must, I think, have been a hospital matron in a previous life.
My first experience of what were then called ‘continental quilts’ was on holiday in Austria with my parents in the 1960s, and we thought them on a par with eating rolls and jam for breakfast and venison for dinner.
At home in England we were getting pretty exotic, though. The new fish fingers had been invented and peas, out of their pods, were frozen in bags.
As we didn’t have a fridge, and freezers were unheard of, they were put in the coldest room in the house – the bathroom – before being eaten pretty smartish.
We readily acknowledge the existence of comfort food (my favourite soother is still Heinz tomato soup) so we should understand the Queen’s reluctance to leave her nest of blankets.
I am not a knitter or a sewer – I used to get sent out of needlework lessons for talking – but when Fisher Junior was born I proudly presented her with a patchwork blanket for her cot.
It was just a few knitted squares sown together and far removed from the ancient art of quilting, but was a real labour of love.
Maybe I’ll make one for a belated birthday present for Her Majesty.