Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.06.05
Stanstead, Quebec


To Sir, with complimentary cocktail

So I show up at Buckingham Palace fashionably late for the Queen's New Year Honours List reception and I can't find a parking spot anywhere. I get pretty steamed when I see Sir Ridley Scott's Jaguar taking up two parking spaces but, hey, he's got seniority.

I end up parking a block away and walking to the palace, trying not to get slush on my brand new Kodiaks. The party's in full swing when I get there. Quite a crowd: Prince, Queen Latifah, Larry King, Duke de Earl, Liza. I throw my coat onto the pile in the Throne Room and grab a champagne from one of the passing waiters, all of whom are wearing Tony Blair masks (kinda creepy, actually). I see Dame Judy Dench over in the corner talking to a recently knighted chemist who specializes in polycarbon spoon-bending and I immediately duck behind a bust of King George V. God, don't get me stuck listening to her go on about how Pierce Brosnan sexually harassed her by offering to show her his "gadgets."

I slide over to the buffet table, trying not to step on a damn corgi as I go. Prince Philip is standing by the shrimp ring talking to Sir Edmund Hillary. Is it just me or can anyone understand a word these two are saying? It's all "mumble mumble mumble Sherpa mumble sheep mumble Camilla." I move on.

"Good evening, Sir Ross," a voice says from behind. I hesitate at first, still not used to the new title.

I turn around and see one of the Queen's suits. He hands me an accordion folder. "Here is everything you need to know about your knighthood along with your certificate, ceremonial pointy hat, a copy of "Sir Cliff Richard's Greatest Hits," and Burger King vouchers.

Now, technically, being Canadian, you can't officially call yourself 'Sir Ross' but that's just a formality to appease the die-hards. Feel free to use it in conversation and on your resumé. If you have any questions about protocol or travel discounts, you'll find a toll-free number inside that will get you directly to 10 Downing. Enjoy your evening."

I put on my "I Do It Knightly" button and mingle. Everyone seems to be having a good time.

The Queen, of course, is the centre of attention. The old gal can still work a crowd. "How many Commonwealth nations does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" she crows. "Just one but it has to get formal approval from me first!" Polite laughter all around.

We find a moment to chat briefly about the new Canadian $20 and how she wishes we'd do something about that dreadful green, when Sir Ian McKellen barges in, and we all know how he is when he gets around queens! I slowly back away.

I see Sir Bob Geldof and his entourage. Here's my chance. "Hey, Sir Bob," I say, slapping him on the back, "Mondays, sure, but can you tell me why I don't like Tuesdays?" That cracks them up and I leave him simmering.

By now the party's swinging. All of us new New Year Honourees are up on stage doing a disco version of "Knights in White Satin" (Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir John Gieve is really kicking it!). Dame Helen Mirren has had her third wardrobe malfunction but no one is buying her argument that it's an "accident."

Sir Mick and Sir Paul are picking on Eric Clapton, chanting, "Not a knight, not a knight…" And Sir Elton, well, he's daring Sir Sean Connery to "go ahead, punch me as hard as you can in the stomach, tough guy!"

When Dame Margaret Thatcher starts doing karaoke, I know it's time for me to leave. So I find my coat, wave my goodbyes, and head out the door. In the parking lot, I key Ridley Scott's car and run like hell.