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Monday, May 23, 2005
Tie me kangaroo down, sport

I was fairly gobsmacked to read this, recently:
[The Queen has selected Rolf] Harris, the Australian artist and television presenter, to paint her 80th birthday portrait next year for a new BBC series.
One has to wonder why Brenda should have chosen Rolf Harris, of all people, to paint her portrait. Perhaps it’s a method of keeping in with the old Commonwealth. Or is it a perfectly natural desire to be seen as poppy and trendy?

Considering the august collection of painters (Annigoni, Lucian Freud, et al) for whom her maj has previously sat, Rolf is in a category apart. What does he have that the others don’t/didn’t? Apparently, Rolf’ll be using oils, rather than emulsion and a broad brush. Assuming that you may want to know a bit more about the project, you can read the piece in full, here. Otherwise (or as well), enjoy my speculation...

Could it be that her maj expects to be vocally entertained during the sitting? It is said that ‘Two Little Boys’, Rolf Harris 1969 hit record, was Margaret Thatcher’s favourite song. (I always thought that woman had taste, as well as judgement.) However, Brenda and Margaret weren’t exactly bosom chums so that’s probably not it. Another snippet to help is that someone said that it’s hard to dislike Rolf Harris but that shouldn’t stop you trying. Perhaps the Queen has the need to practise her loathing.

Having once watched Rolf produce a picture of a cow (no offence or similarity suggested, your maj) in about fifteen seconds. I think I may have the answer: sitting for a portrait is a pretty tedious process. Indeed, I once met a lady who had been a body double for the Queen Mum. She, the double, had to sit for hours and hours, wearing the order of the garter regalia, while the real subject only had to be there for the facial (and hand?) details.

Perhaps Rolf has been chosen for his speed of execution (of paintings, I mean). And will there be a need to have a body (or hand) double? We shall see because the event is going to be televised. I wouldn’t mind betting that Brenda will be dying to get back to something worthwhile – like feeding her corgis or doing the Sun crossword.

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