Two Weeks with the Queen
|Two Weeks with the Queen|
|Original title||Two Weeks In London|
|Genre||Young Adult / drama|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|ISBN||0-330-27183-0 0330271830 (pbk.)|
'''Two Weeks with the Queen''' (ISBN 0-330-27183-0) is a 1990 novel by Australian author Morris Gleitzman. It is about a boy named Colin Mudford who is sent to live in England while his brother is being treated for cancer.
Colin Mudford, a 12-year old Australian, is sent to stay with his uncle and his aunt who live in London while his brother is being treated for cancer. In England, Colin decides to meet the Queen by trying to sneak into Buckingham Palace because he wants to ask her for good doctors. Colin was caught by the police for trying to do that. He also tried to sneak into the best cancer hospital in London and was again, kicked out.
Outside the hospital, he meets a Welshman named Ted who claims that his friend is also suffering from cancer. Ted offers to introduce Colin to one of England's leading cancer experts. The expert contacts Luke's doctors in Sydney and confirms that the cancer which Luke has is terminal. He then slashes tyres on Mercedes', BMWs, Jaguars and Audis, to get revenge on the doctors. Colin storms back to his aunt's house distraught, on where Alistair gives Colin the idea that a possible cure may be found in South America. Colin convinces Alistair to stow away with him on a cargo ship to South America the next day. However, when Colin admits that he slashed the tires of several doctors' cars and that Ted caught him, Alistair tells Colin that Ted could be blamed for this, so Colin delays their trip to South America and visits Ted the next day.
Colin visits Ted at his home and finds that he has been badly injured. Ted tells him that he was attacked by people in the street who disliked him because he is homosexual. He then confesses to Colin that his friend who dying of cancer is actually his lover, Griff, who is dying of AIDS. Ted is unable to walk, so Colin promises to visit Griff for him. Colin goes to the hospital and meets Griff, bringing him a letter from Ted as well as Griff's favourite food, tangerines. After enjoying a conversation with Colin, Griff requests that he come to visit him again. After Griff is taken back to his ward by a nurse, Colin finds a spare wheelchair in the hospital which he takes back to Ted's house. Colin then takes Ted to the hospital to see Griff using the wheelchair and the couple thank Colin greatly for reuniting them. Several days later, after Ted has recovered, Colin goes to visit the couple in the hospital, but upon arrival he learns that Griff has passed away.
When Colin arrives home, Aunt Iris tells Colin that she found out everything from Alistair. They are both punished by receiving only cold baked beans for dinner, and the house is fortified against any escape attempts. Colin abandons his plans for traveling to South America and decides to accept Luke's fate. He asks Aunt Iris to let him go back to his family, but she forbids it. She tells him any attempt to escape will not help either, because they will not allow him on the plane with his return ticket unless he is seen off by an adult guardian. The next morning, with much difficulty, Colin sneaks out of the house and meets Ted at the airport. Ted signs Colin's forms and they say their goodbyes and Ted leaves. He sees him off, and Colin travels back to Sydney to see Luke. The story ends as Luke wakes up, happy to see Colin.
Colin Mudford: A 12-year-old Australian boy determined to convince a cancer expert to treat his younger brother.
Alistair: Colin's shy English cousin. While Colin is in London, Alistair becomes involved with Colin's ambitious schemes to find a cure for Luke's cancer.
Aunty Iris: Colin's aunt and Alistair's overbearing mother. She is friendly towards Colin but is frightened by the fact that he is so open about Luke's cancer.
Uncle Bob: Colin's uncle, Aunt Iris's husband and Alistair's overbearing father. Bob is stingy with money, critical of the Royal Family and is a fan of the DIY hardware house.
Ted: A Welsh man living in London. He is an unemployed gay man because he is taking care of his dying boyfriend.
Griff: Ted's partner, who discovered that he had developed AIDS shortly after moving to London. Colin visits Griff in the hospital and reunites him with Ted.
Mrs. Mudford: Colin and Luke's mother. She is distraught over the diagnosis of her younger son and sends Colin to London to stay at her sister's house.
Mr. Mudford: Colin and Luke's father. He travels to Sydney where Luke is diagnosed with cancer, prompting him to send Colin to England.
Luke Mudford: Colin's younger brother, diagnosed with terminal cancer after collapsing in his living room. Colin attempts to find a cure for him.
Dr. Graham: Considered the world's leading expert on cancer. Ted informs her of Colin's situation and she calls up Luke's doctors in Sydney, only to find out bad news.
Tourists: There are two tourists, One from America and one from Spain, Who appear when Colin sneaks out to the Palace.
Flight Attendant: She appears during Colin's travel in the flight from Australia to London.
The Queen: The Queen is least bothered about Colin's destiny and doesn't respond to any of Colin's letters and requests; but writes a letter to him near the end of the book
Two Weeks with the Queen was published during a time of change in Australia, particularly economic and political change. When Prime Minister Paul Keating announced the recession on 29 November – the economic struggles of average families are described in the early chapters of the book, such as when Colin’s parents cannot afford to buy him a Christmas gift that he wants, and instead give him something that he needs - sensible school shoes, which go unappreciated.
AIDS was a growing concern in Australia. Two Weeks with the Queen was published only three years after the prominent 'Grim Reaper' public service announcements, and is considered significant in addressing the issue of AIDS. Although the film presents a homosexual man with a partner dying of the disease, it humanises Ted and presents his plight as very real, significant, and similar to Colin's struggle with his brother's illness. In 1987, the first hospital for AIDS sufferers was opened by Princess Diana - her hands-on approach contrasting vastly with the absence of the Queen in the text.
There are several themes explored throughout the story. Central to the plot is the importance of hope, determination, and steadfastness during periods of great adversity. In the book, Colin is absolutely determined to help his brother by finding a cure for his cancer, despite being on nearly the opposite side of the world without any realistic means of helping at all. Acceptance of the inevitable and the value of spending time with loved ones are also prominent themes as Colin views the relationship between Ted and the dying Griff, realizing that Luke, too, is fated to die and therefore the right choice is to accept fate and cherish Luke's remaining time.
Colin's determination to save his brother leads to some humorous incidents as he attempts to invade Buckingham Palace and seeks out a well-known doctor at the "Best Cancer Hospital." Meanwhile, Colin's relationship with a young man dealing with his lover's AIDS exemplifies the book's earnest honesty while also introducing some humorous moments. More seriously, Gleitzman depicts the denial and anger that accompany grief, portraying Colin's egocentricity, spunk, and pain compassionately and without condescension. Neatly tied together by the incidents involving the Queen, this mixture of genuine emotion and humor makes for an engaging story that is said to have broad appeal.
Adaptation for theatre
The book was adapted for the stage in 1992 by Mary Morris and premiered at the Sydney Festival in the same year. Directed by Wayne Harrison, it received rich praise from its first performances and has since been shown throughout the world, including England, Canada, Japan, the United States, Cuba, and Portugal, and Cawamm.