Peel at the Palace
On Thursday 26th November, John went to Buckingham Palace to receive an OBE from HRH The Prince of Wales. Home Truths producer, Chris Berthoud was waiting outside the palace gates as John and Sheila emerged to meet their children:
"It's an interesting experience - it's a bit like going to a church service in a church to which you don't belong. The band plays continually and not especially well. I don't want to be unkind - they seemed to be playing Songs from the Shows, 'These you Have Loved', but there was one thing they got spectacularly right. There was a man who was being awarded the MBE for his services to the River Thames, and as his name was called they went into 'Jolly Boating Weather'!
He's very good, it was Charles, not the Queen, he talks to the last person as long as he does the first. What on earth he thinks to say to them, I don't know. Jolly interesting event. I'm just sorry that the children missed it.
John is known for dressing casually but on this special occasion he's actually wearing a suit: "... which I bought, I'm afraid, for Sheila's father's funeral. That's my greatest regret really, that neither my parents nor hers survived for this, but her father did know about it. Not a bad suit, though, quite dapper! I'm not sure where my bright red tie comes from, but I'm wearing it as a tribute to Liverpool football club, though they scarcely deserve it! I was hoping he'd ask about that but he didn't.
John's brothers accompanied John and Sheila to the Palace. "As you were about to go up," said Sheila, "all three of us were sitting there and getting in a panic and our hands were getting sweaty! We were very proud of him." For this occasion John asked for the Palace to use the family name: "They'd got me down as Peel but today I wanted to be Ravenscroft for the sake of the family."
John had to remember various manoeuvres as he went up to collect his honour. "When you've spoken to him, and he shakes your hand which is the signal that it's all over kid, you have to back away, then bow slightly, turn to the right, then away." Sheila noticed his nervous demeanour: "As you were talking to him, I saw you clasp your hands behind you back and I thought, 'what's he doing!'" And did he get it right? "He did, he did," Sheila reassured us, "superbly!"
Many congratulations, John, from everyone at Home Truths.