How I was ‘knighted’…

October 31, 2010

Well, I suppose it’s an easy enough mistake to make.

What happened was this. I was expecting a cheque from one of my freelance jobs, and I was downstairs as soon as I saw the postman wheeling his little trolley past the front door.

On the doormat, in among the newspaper from the council, the fliers for curry houses and pizza places,  and dunning letters for the South African couple who used to live downstairs until they did a moonlit flit six months ago, was a letter with a crown on it. Addressed to me. Hockney. Me.

With shaking hands, I took it upstairs and slit it open, clumsily, ripping between the first and last name on the front of the envelope.

I took out the letter, savouring the thick paper, rubbing my thumb across the embossed lion and unicorn, delighting in the … properness of it all.

The letter started:

‘Dear Mr Hockney

I am commanded by Her Majesty…’

I felt faint.  I sat down with a bump. I looked at the letter again. The same words appeared again –  they didn’t somehow magically rearrange themselves into a letter from an insurance company offering me special over-50s rates for car cover.

I read on.

‘…to advise you that your name has come forward to become a member of the Knight Bachelor of the British Empire.’

Is there still a British Empire, I wondered? I caught myself stroking the paper.

Not that that mattered. A Knight Bachelor. I wondered what I’d done. For a fleeting moment I thought that perhaps someone had recognised me for my long standing contribution to advertising.

Sir Paul McCartney wasn’t that different to me after all. Well, he had had one marriage more than me, but he had written more songs than me. Not as many advertising jingles (Alan 4, Sir Paul 0) but still.

I wondered briefly if there was a Knights Club I might be able to join, somewhere in Pall Mall,  where I could pass the time of day, hobnobbing with Sir Mick and Sir Cliff and, yes, Sir Paul, and on a bad day, Sir Alan Sugar.

Then my eye fell on the name at the top, the name that should have been mine, but which actually said ‘Mr David Hockney…’

PS I recently bumped into Keith Richards (OK he was signing my copy of his book) and mentioned this in a ‘how come Mick’s been knighted and you haven’t?’ kind of way, and he mumbled something about Sir Cliff…

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