HM the Queen was asked to be our Oldie of the Year – but she's far too young at heart to accept. By Gyles Brandreth
For the past 29 years, The Oldie has held the Oldie of the Year (aka TOOTY) awards to celebrate the achievements of those who have made a special contribution to public life while maintaining – in the phrase of our founding editor, Richard Ingrams – undoubted snap in their celery.
Previous winners have included all sorts, from Oscar- winners to Nobel laureates, from community-care nurses to veteran athletes, from the Queen Mother to David Hockney.
When we sounded out the late Duke of Edinburgh in 2011 about the possibility of his accepting an award, he replied from Sandringham, ‘I much appreciate your invitation to receive an Oldie of the Year award. There is nothing like it for morale to be reminded that the years are passing – ever more quickly – and that bits are beginning to drop off the ancient frame. But it is nice to be remembered at all.’
This year, at our judging lunch, Maureen Lipman wondered whether the time had come for us to honour Elizabeth II herself, in recognition of our sovereign’s leadership during the pandemic (‘We will meet again’) and in the run-up to her Platinum Jubilee next year.
I took appropriate soundings and received a lovely letter from Balmoral Castle.
Those warmest best wishes are of course heartily reciprocated by all of us at Oldie Towers and, I am sure, by all our readers. Long live The Queen! Perhaps in the future we will sound out Her Majesty once more.
Meanwhile, at our awards lunch this year, we were honoured by the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who, too young to be eligible for an award herself, presented them to this year’s galaxy of worthy award-winners. We are grateful to her, to our award-winners and to this year’s team of judges. Toot-toot-TOOTY!