Lizzie Barlow spent her 90th birthday alone in her dingy flat watching the nation celebrate her more famous contemporary, Queen Elizabeth.
As a loyal supporter of the Royal Family, Lizzie nodded approvingly as the Archbishop of Canterbury thanked Her Majesty for a lifetime of sacrifice in service of her country.
It didn’t occur to Lizzie that no one had ever thanked her for her services as a nurse assistant and then Land Girl during the war, or her sacrifices in bringing up her son alone after losing her husband in a coal mining accident for which she received no compensation, or losing a grandson in the Iraq war or…but mustn’t grumble.
Like the rest of the nation, Lizzie was full of praise for the way the Queen had worked tirelessly for her subjects, talking to Prime Ministers, making Royal visits to foreign countries and attending all those banquets and ceremonies.
Compared with all that, Lizzie’s work in a dirty factory seemed very mundane and she wasn’t surprised that no one had thought it worthy of praise or even recognition.
Lizzie was just grateful that like the Queen, she enjoyed good health. Some of the women she had worked with in the factory had developed asbestosis due to slack safety measures in the 1960s.
It meant she was lucky enough to still have a good set of lungs to sing along to God Save the Queen.
It would have been better if Lizzie’s son had been there with to sing along with her but he’d suffered trouble with his nerves after the loss of his boy in Iraq and was no longer ‘all there’ as Lizzie would say in her old fashioned way.
Still, it warmed her heart as the TV coverage looked back on the Queen’s life and work. “God bless, her” she thought. “Such service, such sacrifice.”