The People’s Princess

Writers’ Triggers: One of my favorite triggers is to use the first or last line from a novel. The first line from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is “It happened every year, was almost a ritual.” What a great line! And in terms of the novel, the word “ritual” is prophetic. Larsson’s last line is “She smiled a hard smile and steeled herself.”

  • Both lines suggest any number of possibilities. You might start by brainstorming rituals and then choose one that suggests a story.
  • Or use one of Larsson’s lines. I prefer Larrsson’s first line, but there is no reason why his last line can’t be your first line.
  • Up the game element and use both his lines as either your first or last lines.


When we’re in London as we are now, Network Rail puts us up in a service flat near Kensington Palace at the west end of Hyde Park. Although I miss living in North London, Bayswater is convenient to the Tube, a host of ethnic restaurants, and a multicultural mix of people. Hyde Park itself is a draw, and I’m in the park daily, either to power walk or just hang out. I enter the park at Kensington Palace, and I often stop to marvel at the ongoing memorial to Diana on the palace gates.

Roadside descansos (memorial rest stops) are frequent in the American Southwest, but you seldom see a descanso that is refreshed daily. After the initial laying of the flowers (both fresh and plastic) and the memorabilia (to include a teddy bear if the memorial is to a child) the months pass: the fresh flowers die, the plastic flowers fade and the teddy bear looks worse for wear. Maybe on the first anniversary, someone remembers to freshen up the descanso, but otherwise, the descanso, the memories and the person remembered are not exactly dis-remembered but become one with the landscape.

Diana is the exception to the rule. Fresh flowers and notes appear daily and leave me wondering. What exactly was it about Diana that captured our imagination? Certainly her accessibility and vulnerability were appealing as was her giving voice to issues without a voice.  If she was a victim, she certainly used her victimization to her own advantage. Based on the notes attached to the palace gates, many believe that she, a commoner like the rest of us, was a victim of the royal hand. (Perhaps I should capitalize “royal”?) Or, does this veneration of Diana stem from a more universal feeling of powerlessness under the thumb of the State?

Taking a look at the sign to the right (one of several that have the same theme) you can measure the degree of disdain by some for the Royal Family. Conspiracy theories still run rampant. How could they run so long? What fuels the memory of Diana? We should all be so lucky.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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