Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Jubilee and why I'm not that bothered

A few (or a lot) of you won't like this. This past weekend and it's extended bank holiday have all been about celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. So we got an extra day off, don't forget they stole May's second bank holiday, and squeezed down the Mall or in front of the tellybox for the promised extravaganza.

Let's just pause a second. You do know what you're supposed to be celebrating, don't you?

No. It's not the Queen's birthday.

No. It's not 60 years since her father passed.

No. It's not 75 years of reign (Victoria fiddled that one).

Come on, you do know you're recent history don't you?

It's a celebration of 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II reigning as monarch.

OK, I'll admit that's impressive. 60 years and second only to Queen Victoria. This doesn't take away from the vast hypocrisy that now infects the UK population. Every day a large number of people will be critical of the Queen. She is, after all, only the Queen through genetic luck. The Queen and the Royal Family as a whole are emblematic of the rigid class system in the UK right now. As has been alluded to since the global economic crash there is now an even bigger gulf between the 'haves' and 'have nots'.  They've been called the 1%, they've been called Tories, they've been called upper class.  Yet now Facebook and Twitter are awash with people who are 'very proud to be British'.  The hypocrisy is becoming galling.

But nevermind our objections and hardships in the face of austerity, let's have a party to celebrate someone being alive and 'in charge' for a substantial amount of time. Now take a look at your granny. Did anyone give a shit when she notched up 60 years of being alive, or being a mother? No, mine neither.

We're all being told we will have to work longer, harder and it will cost us more. We all have to take steps now to look after ourselves come retirement. Be it at 68 or two days before the grave. So let's take a long weekend to whip up some bizarre hero worship of someone who was born into good fortune, land and wealth.  The Kardashians ears are pricking up.

It's interesting to note that this is one bank holiday weekend that the Government don't think will harm our fragile economy. Let's remind them of that the next time they roll out that excuse.

The celebrations began in earnest with a flotilla down the Thames. The BBC whipped into a frenzy as the rain poured and the crowds massed. Conveniently quietened were the stories of public transport systems creaking under demand. Not so easy to ignore were the stories of Work Fare 'volunteers' being made to camp under London Bridge before providing security. Say it quietly but don't forget the Olympics are coming.

And what of the Olympics? No pressure now on the organisers. Despite showering themselves in the glory of a broken ticketing system, dodgy sponsorship deals and white elephant building, they now have to follow the Jubilee weekend.

Undeniably the Jubilee celebrations have been a spectacle. The sight of Buckingham Palace drenched in the Union Jack will live in memories for a very, very long time.  The guest list for the concert less so.  Obvious highlights were Grace Jones and Kylie (purely for the outfit) but did we really need a cadaverous Cliff Richard or McCartney going through the motions? Just be grateful they didn't book Coldplay.



A firework and laser show that was reminiscent of Independence Day now means that the Olympic's opening and closing ceremonies will probably look like an episode of Art Attack with Kajagoogoo on repeat. We'll see.

I'm not overtly anti-Royal, I just see the Royal Family as anachronistic. The rest of the world love them and spend their cash coming to see their palaces, so that's a good thing I suppose. I just wonder if we'd be all that bothered if the Royal Family wasn't there.  The French and Germans don't seem too fussed.