16/06/06 

It was Queen Elizabeth’s birthday on April 21. Yesterday she celebrated for a second time, with a lunchtime shindig at London's Mansion House.

Speaking after the meal she delighted guests with the Groucho Marx one-liner: "Anyone can get old, all you have to do is live long enough." 

Now, I didn’t write much about it on her real birthday and I’m not going to now. There’re just a couple of things, however, I’d like to get off my chest.

Did you know the Queen owns all the whales, dolphins, porpoises and sturgeons in the waters around the UK?

That she has sat for 139 official portraits, opened 15 bridges, launched 23 ships and sent her first e-mail in 1976?

And were you aware that buried somewhere on the moon is a microfilmed message from the Queen addressed to any alien life forms who might come across it?

When Dennis Gear, born on the same day as the illustrious lady, went into Borocourt asylum at 16, because he was “unruly”, they gave him a pair of wooden clogs, a tin plate, a mug and a spoon.

They didn’t have TV or radio, so in the evening he and the other inmates would play games.

“For supper we had cocoa and rock cake,” said Dennis. “In the afternoons we had a big dinner that was served through the hatch.”

Dennis ran away once but “a policeman caught me and brought me back.”

He was released from the hospital in 1984 having spent 40 years of his life there.

On April 21 He celebrated his birthday at the Phab Day Centre at Mount Pleasant in Reading. He watched John Wayne movies with his friends.

I dare say living long enough to get old has been a bit harder for him than it's been for the Queen.

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