|Her Madge, just as Jessie J takes the stage|
This weekend is the Queen of England's Diamond Jubilee. This morning I walked my children to school, both of them dressed in red, white and blue for a special jubilee picnic (well, my son had red trainers on, which was the only red we could find, and my daughter had to wear a blue cardigan despite it being 25 degrees) along a street festooned with Union Jacks. Every shop has a Jubilee promotion of some sort, and pinned to the trees and walls are invites and exhortations to attend street parties or other celebrations. It's like walking through a strange land.
As always, when the Brits do something like this, it is vaguely empty and half-hearted. We simply don't do celebration, or at least not one that doesn't start with vast quantities of alcohol and end in a fistfight. There is something forced about the whole occasion. Everyone I meet mumbles something about grinning and bearing it, and being thankful for the two extra days off work they'll get next week. Somewhat appropriately, the good weather we've been experiencing is set to break and heavy rain sweep in, which will make the bunting seem even more tired and forlorn, while the sponge cake will get soggy and wine diluted - no bad thing.
On Monday, no doubt in torrential rain, there will be a Jubilee concert in the Queen's honour, where the poor old lass will have to endure music from a bunch of people she probably thinks are ghastly - such as Elton John, Robbie Williams and Jessie J - and for once she and her subjects will unite in common feeling. Imagine that: 60 long years on the throne, a life dedicated to shaking hands and tedious tours watching men in foreign lands in grass skirts stick their tongues out at you, accompanied by your boorish and whining husband, and the only thanks you get is a gurning poltroon singing Let Me Entertain You when you'd much rather be indoors watching a soap opera and smashing back a stiff G&T.
I am not, as you might guess, much of a royalist. They are a monumental waste of cash, and their very existence enshrines the absurd idea that birth confers some kind of status. It is that attitude and belief which has led to us being governed by a gang of clueless public schoolboys who have no concept of how real life is lived, and are convinced that just because they went to a good school and their dad owned half of Wiltshire they are somehow better than the rest of us. Thankfully, their staggering incompetence has been revealed in recent weeks, to the point where each and every one of them is now a national joke. While an elected president, or the creation of a new elected class is hardly ideal, it would be preferable to a monarchy. Not least because monarchy is cruel. The current royal family are treated the way my children treat their hamsters. Ignored in the main, sometimes stared at with a sort of listless curiosity, and when bored, taken out and squeezed and tormented. (Come to think of it we found one of our hamsters eating the face of its dead brother the other week - now THAT would be an interesting to see, Prince Andrew feasting on the rotting flesh of Prince Edward.)
The problem we studied, too-cool-for-finishing-school republicans have is our children. Mine, like many others, are absurdly excited by bunting (the definition of bunting for those who don't know is 'horrible tat') and the street parties and soggy sponge cakes. This provides all kind of problems. It means we have to attend these events with enough enthusiasm to not ruin it for our kids, while making it clear to all others present we in no way support the royal family and find the whole thing a sham. A difficult balancing act, as I'm sure you'll agree.
Dan - Friday