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Literature / Two Weeks with the Queen

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Dear Your Majesty the Queen.

I need to speak to you urgently about my brother Luke. He's got cancer and the doctors in Australia are being really slack. If I could borrow your top doctor for a few days I know he/she would fix things up in no time. Of course Mum and Dad would pay his/her fares even if it meant selling the car or getting a loan. Please contact me at the above address urgently.

Yours sinserely,
Colin Mudford.

P.S. This is not a hoax. Ring the above number and Aunty Iris will tell you. Hang up if a man answers.

When it turns out that Colin Mudford's brother has cancer (and not a bad case of gastro from eating Christmas dinner too fast like he originally thought) Colin is shipped off from his little out-back hometown to England, to spend time with his Aunty Iris, Uncle Bob and his hypochondriac cousin Alistair. Colin isn't thrilled with the idea, but since he's there he's has a plan. He's going to talk to the Queen and get her help, or failing that, The Best Doctor in The World. Contacting Her Majesty is a little more difficult than he first thought - however, Colin does meet Ted, who is also in the middle of losing someone he loves.

This children's book by English-born Australian Morris Gleitzman is one of the funniest, warmest and most thought-provoking books in Australian children's literature, tackling difficult issues with grace and dignity, but without being too weighty or gloomy.


This book contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The story is told from the perspective of the young Colin, who takes a long time to understand what's going on. However, the focus on the book is still a very adult fear: living knowing you are going to lose your brother (Colin), your child (his parents), or your life partner (Ted).
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous - Averted. While we can assume that Griff had another partner at some point, Ted and Griff are in a loving and loyal relationship.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling - Luke for Colin, at the beginning of the book.
  • Ask a Stupid Question... - Colin and Ted's first meeting.
    Colin: You OK?
    Ted: No, I'm not. I'm crying.
  • Bittersweet Ending - Luke is still seriously ill, and Ted's partner Griff passed away, but Colin is a little more understanding for the experience, and decides to go back to Australia to be by Luke's side.
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  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named - Discussed. Colin seems distressed by the fact that other than the doctors, the only person he's heard use the word "cancer" is Ted. Everyone else shushes Colin when he says it.
  • Double-Meaning Title - "Two Weeks With The Queen" refers both to Colin's quest to get the Queen of England to save his brother, but also to the time he spends with Ted, whose house has been graffitied with the homophobic slur "Queens".
  • Dr. Jerk - "The-Best-Doctor-In-The-World" soon becomes "The-Worst-Doctor-In-The-World" when he tells Colin that his brother's condition is not special because everyone in the cancer ward could die. While he is in the cancer ward. In front of the cancer patients.
  • Fish out of Water - Colin in England
  • Good Victims, Bad Victims - Averted. The Littlest Cancer Patient and the gay man with AIDS are treated with equal sympathy.
  • Green-Eyed Monster - The book starts with Colin gloomy because Luke got toy fighter planes for Christmas, while he got new school shoes.
  • The House of Windsor
  • Intergenerational Friendship - Ted and Colin, who bond over their shared experience with terminally ill loved ones.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient - Colin's brother, Luke.
  • Manly Tears - Colin first approaches Ted because he's crying.
  • Straight Gay - Ted.
  • Zany Scheme - Colin and Alistair try and break into Buckingham Palace to see the Queen. When that doesn't go to plan, Colin decides to stow away on a ship and escape to South America so he can find the cure for cancer there.


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