Tuesday, 5 June 2012
SOCIETY: THE JUBILEE
Thank God that's all over.
I occasionally contribute to Amazon Vine forum which isn't all about the freebies we get but can cover pretty anything anyone wants to raise and, inevitably, someone raised the topic of the jubilee on which I posted a comment. The comment resulted in a reply which went roughly: For someone who isn't interested in the royal family you spend a lot of time time writing about them. Actually it was only a couple of sentences but I replied that: I find writing about why I'm not interested in the royal family more interesting than being interested in the royal family.
Truth be told, my attitude is more ambivalent than that. Were I to be dogmatically left wing I could say that the queen represents a pinnacle of an archaic class system which should be done away with. To a certain extent this is true but it isn't all the picture.
What is also undoubtedly true is that the monarchy gives Britain a certain cachet abroad. It possesses an aura which fascinates those who aren't British. You just need to look at or read the news about various overseas visits by senior members of the royal family to verify this. They also symbolise the long traditions of this country -I'm think here of it represented by the various historical paraphernalia and the history of the country itself -nearly a thousand years of independence, of freedom. (Yes, of course I'm grossly oversimplifying but the this is a blog post not an historical thesis.) We have a long proud history of technological innovation, of adapting to social change, of tolerance, of bringing a unity spread across many parts of the world. Yes, I am talking about the British Empire with all its many flaws and horrors but, compared to other colonial powers, we have a far more enviable record.
So I am emphatically not a republican. I do believe the monarchy serves a useful purpose. A drastically slimmed down monarchy would serve it even better. And this will happen because the seeds have already been sown. The monarchy has changed a lot already in the 60 years Elizabeth has been queen and it will keep on changing through the two princes who are far more in touch with modern Britain than those who came before and will probably end up more like the royal families of Holland and Sweden.
As for the queen herself, on her ascension to the throne she stated she would dedicate her life to this country, the commonwealth, and to their peoples. I believe, by her own lights, she has done this with grace and dignity and it would be churlish of me to deny it. Despite the weather and the inane BBC commentaries, the jubilee has been a great success among the people of this country and my respect to them for this. It has been a wonderful celebration of unity in a society that is far more open, far more diverse, far more tolerant than it was when I was a child.
Not that I think Elizabeth had much to do with it except as a symbolic figurehead. I can appreciate what's happened this weekend but I'm simply not interested in the royal family. They are irrelevant to my life.
I took a break after writing that last paragraph to help Susan sort out dog food in the garage which is to go to the Greyhound rescue at Wingate (the food not the garage). Then I went off the Sainsburys and Morrisons to empty the donated pet food bins. When I got back, Susan was watching the queen in a car slowly returning from Westminster or St.Paul's or wherever. There were shots of cheering crowds, barricades, police, the queen waving, streets, repeat, repeat, repeat. I mean, who the fuck would want to watch more than five minutes or that? Interminably tedious. I can understand the crowds being there to cheer but I also imagine that once the procession had passed by them, there'd be a collective sigh and a chorus of: right, off to the pub.
I dunno. Clearly, for better or worse, I'm missing something. But whatever it is, I honestly don't care. Once I've finished the mug of coffee I'm drinking, I back out in the van again and away a few miles down the coast to pick up a stray kitten which someone has found. Stuff the royal family, rescuing cats and kittens is what's really important to me.