Monday, 4 June 2012

God Save the Queen, Heaven bless the faith's defender...

As a dedicated Liberal, rationalist and egalitarian I should be a republican and deplore an occasion with celebrates hereditary privilege and ostentatious wealth.  My excuse for supporting our monarchy is that, in the unlikely event of my doing something brave and getting a medal, I should prefer to receive it from the queen or one of her family rather than  from a politician or David Beckham, and were it to be presented by Margaret Thatcher, Tony  Blair or even Charles Kennedy I should refuse it.  So I regret not being physically present at yesterday's river pageant, but did watch most of it on television.

Actually I found it something of a disappointment.  The visual impression was not so colourful as the Canaletto painting of the 1748 event: too bitty, too many boats and not enough formation. The two really impressive parts were the floating peal of bells (an inspiration, I think, and a revelation to most people, I suspect, as to how church bells actually work) and the flotilla, manned by the Sea Cadets, carrying the flags of the Commonwealth.  I looked hard for the flags of both Papua New Guinea and Malawi, two countries in which I've worked, but failed to spot either.  I presume they were there.

It was a particular disappointment not to hear more of the music, especially Handel's Water Music, which was presumably played by someone. On the more positive side  an encouraging aspect was the lack of an obvious police presence and certainly, as far as I could spot, no one visibly toting machine guns. So congratulations to whoever organised the inevitable security precautions so discretely.  I did spot just one helicopter in the distance.  Maybe it wasn't a police helicopter, but it does make you wonder why, at mass gatherings expressing our right to protest rather than to fawn, the authorities find it necessary to have helicopters flying so near and so low that they drown out the speeches. 

There was also a welcome lack of commercial advertising: The only one I spotted was a rather tatty stencil of KPMG on the side of a boat.  Whether there had been orders to cover such adverts , or they just weren't there anyway, I don't know, but it makes a marked contrast with the Olympics, and even the Olympic Torch route, where all domestic adverts have to be obscured,  not because of the non-commercial nature of the events, but to give greater prominence to the "official" sponsors, not least the non-British and unhealthy Coca Cola and McDonalds, and Carlsberg lager.

A major irritation was the vacuousness of the BBC commentators.  We were told endlessly of how "amazing" the event was, how long it had been in preparation  and how there was such a "wonderful atmosphere."  One even described the event as "so democratic."  Why can't they just  describe factually what is happening and who is who, and leave the rest to us?  Come back  Richard Dimbleby, even if his tones were over reverential..

I am not, whoever so devoted a monarchist that I shall watch the pop concert tonight.  Nor am I uncritical.  I'd much prefer a "bicycle monarchy" on the Scandinavian style.  But I shall be riveted to the service in St Paul's tomorrow morning.


  1. God Save the Queen, The Fascist Regime. They made you a moron. A potential H-bomb!

    When we are being told that our public services have to face savage cuts in the name of an ideologically driven austerity we see the taxes of hard working northern folk wasted on this drivel in London. The NHS is far more a symbol of Britishness to be proud of than a Greco-German family!

    After this we will have to see yet more of our taxes wasted on the Olympics. If we must have Bread and Circuses then I would rather watch Stuart Hall host It's a Knockout from Cleethorpes!

    There's no future in England's dreaming!

  2. Logically I'm sure you're right, and I'm 100% behind you with regard to the Olympics. As I've indicated in an earlier post, I'd have more time for them if they were based in an area that really needs re-generation (Cleethorpes would certainly be a good spot) rather than the already over-provided South East, and I deplore the commercial exploitation by foreign firms toting unhealthy foods and drinks,and provision of reserved tickets to "hospitality " for big business. But a scaled down monarchy for giving out the medals etc seems to me a suitable compromise.