My writing group came up with a prompt for our next session that was sort of along the lines of the Queen’s Jubilee. Maybe – Oh not another Jubilee. Or – Jump for Joy. Or – some prompt evoking the beautiful, balmy weather we had been having.
I probably won’t be able to attend that session but it started me thinking about all this Jubilee hoo-ha. Well, to be honest, I couldn’t really miss it. There are advertisements and colours everywhere. The kitsch is out in full parade in shop windows.
This weekend Scotland celebrates, with the rest of the country over a three day weekend, the Queen’s 60th Jubilee with red, white & blue bunting all over the place and kitschy knick-knacks for sale in all manner of kitschy shops and other outlets. Doesn’t do much for me I am afraid except embarrass me on behalf of a country that has been rightly done over by the home country of said Queen.
I have started to read a book by A A Gill called The Angry Island – Hunting the English. Prior to this I read Jeremy Paxman’s The English: A Portrait of a People. I was hoping to build a comprehension of the English that isn’t solely based on its purported history, as written by itself. Being Australian, I only ever knew Britain as flowing from history.
Gill is determinedly Scottish and Paxman is a little bemused by the English and doesn’t really count himself as being one of them. So, I thought I might learn some enlightening stuff about this island. I thoroughly enjoyed Paxman’s urbanely intelligent and clever admonishments of the English and I have yet to finish Gill’s far more acerbic and blunt assessment. I like him as well. So I am adding to and amending my rose-coloured view of the British.
Interestingly, I read a novel called Small Island by Andrea Levy, the British born daughter of Jamaican parents. Her novel draws the inequalities, the prejudices and biases of the English (in this novel) with regard to the inhabitants of a country that gave a lot of its youth to the war effort and then emigrated to ‘the mother country’ and found something quite different from expectations. It was quite a sobering read.
I have always been a bit in love with British history. It seemed so rich and full of costume drama to this antipodean castaway girl. Scotland was probably even more evocative with its tales of derring-do and brave resistance against a greedy and bullying wealthy neighbour. The trials of the Pretender translated into song was romance to me! My reading was peppered with stories of Lorna Doone and Rob Roy and my heart soared! Then Shakespeare came into my life and lent me his plays. And I was in love again.
Just goes to show that things are not necessarily what they seem. I had not realised that the gorgeous royal pomp and ceremony harboured a great deal more subversive messages that tied a populace to its apron strings with hoops of steel.
What a mixed metaphor is that!!
I had naively thought that English royalty had started to pay its way in a modern world with taxation aplenty and a certain diminution in privilege. Then I discovered the amount of money from rents, the largesse from the public purse (still) and the loophole in the European farming subsidy that runs into millions of pounds for landholders again from the public purse, of which the Queen is one and her family members the others!
The English have bought into this pomp with gusto and I am a little bemused that the Scots have as well. Here we are looking down the barrel of Scottish Independence in a couple of years time while still waving the flag flanked on street corners as gilded horses prance past.
Now we are going to celebrate, at yet another public cost of millions, the 60th year of the reign of a monarch that has had less to do with the management of the country and its outreaches than any other monarch in the history of the so-called British Commonwealth.
Not content with that, Britain is hosting the Olympic Games, again at a cost of millions and the displacement of many of London City’s less salubrious inhabitants. The Games as run these days bears little if any resemblance to the Olympic Games it purports to emulate. It is a political statement that enhances country separation and patriotism rather than global sense.
I have read that Queen Victoria was initially embarrassed and very much against any public celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. Once talked into it though, she apparently embraced the whole hoo-ha with gusto.
I wonder about this current Queen though. She must know she is an anachronism but probably has no idea how to end it all. At least she hasn’t abdicated yet. If and when she does, methinks the end of the Commonwealth will follow in fairly short order.
- Diamond jubilee celebrations soar to record levels (guardian.co.uk)
- Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Where to celebrate in the UK (thestar.com)