Thursday, 24 May 2012

Why I can't get grumpy over the Jubilee

I'm not a royalist by nature. If I'd been alive during the civil war I would have lined up with Oliver Cromwell, and my usual reaction to being asked about the Royal Family is that I'll turn out to watch them the day they're all led to the guillotine.

That's a tongue in cheek grumpiness coming out, provoked by the things that annoy all us sceptics: the sycophantic coverage they still receive from much of the media; the fact that they're so stupendously rich and don't seem particularly generous towards the less fortunate; the fact that the Queen has humiliated her oldest son by keeping him waiting until he's an old man to do the job he's supposedly been born to do. They never seem particularly lovable to me, and if we have to have royalty I'd rather it was the more modest, less expensive type they enjoy in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

So I should be getting exceedingly grumpy at the prospect of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, an ostentatious display of nonsense to mark her sixty years of waving, shaking hands and cultivated blandness. Considering that the country's skint, isn't it inappropriate to splash out tens of millions (or is it more?) so that lot of people can wave their flags and shout "Gawd bless er!"

Maybe it is, but I can't be bothered getting wound up over it. It won't cost a fraction of what governments have spent on the bank bail-outs, or the war in Afghanistan, or retaining the Falklands, or a bunch of PFI contracts that bumped up the cost of public services. And the brainwashing effect is minimal compared to a single edition of the Daily Mail or the Sun, or whatever nonsense they teach the kids in faith schools. And while the Royal Family are not the best role models, they're not as bad as some of the characters in England's squad for Euro 2012, who are going to attract a much more intense form of hero worship (at least until they get knocked out in the group stages).

Such occasions may even do some good in spreading a little good feeling. A lot of people obviously like standing outside waving a plastic Union Jack if the Queen comes within 200 yards, and a lot more are happy watching it on TV for hours on end, even the bits when the Royals are indoors and they can only see day trippers standing in the rain. I wonder if there may be some households where the woman and kids get a day or two's break from domestic violence when there's an event like this on the box.

I might even go out to watch some of it first hand this time around. I live two minutes from a spot where the river pageant will pass, and the idea of watching an armada cruise past on a sunny day is quite agreeable, even if it will be crowded. I'll suspend my grumpiness for a couple of days and go with the patriotic flow.

And when it's all over, I'll go back to saying they should be led to the guillotine.

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