I don’t think I’d be overstating it to say that I hated every minute of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. To anyone who knows me this might not be news; hate is a very strong word for me and I don’t use it lightly.
But let me stop you there. I don’t think of myself as a republican, tending to agree with the idea that the word has been hijacked by fruitcake right-wing head bangers in the US. I’m not really in favour of strongly centralised state governments either, making me somewhere between an Anarchist (though I vote, so that’s inaccurate) and a progressive Socialist, which is probably more like it.
It’s just that I revile state sponsored jollity, carefully engineered by the mass media to make you feel like a freak if you don’t want to join in. Unlike some of my silly bastard near neighbours I didn’t attend a street party either. Theirs was brightly festooned with union flags, giving the whole event an air of wartime austerity. ‘We might be counting the pennies but we still know how to scoff fairy cakes and drink lemonade.’
And that’s just it. I’ve never had much respect for crowd driven behaviour, believing that it smacks of desperation. Such things strip the epidermis off our nation, revealing that beneath the surface the English have never completely abandoned their propensity for a bit of mass boot-licking and social deference.
‘The Queen does a great job,’ I heard someone say – and ‘It must be lonely.’ Gosh, she was even bombed out of house and home during the war. I don’t know whether to swoon with admiration or doff my cap. By way of comment my elderly mum had to shelter under the stairs while Germans tried to murder her; but society doesn’t give a rats about her. They should; she’s a woman of great courage. And she doesn’t have any ladies in waiting to help her care for my sick father.
I didn’t strut my stuff at any Jubilee parties, but I found it hard to escape from the relentless media bombardment. Whenever I switched on the radio I was subjected to endless gushing tributes to ‘Her Maj.’ The subtext to the whole event was, ‘We’re going to force you to listen to this if it kills us.’
When I went outside for a walk around, the media volume cranked up to the max. Oh look, there’s Kylie on our big screen in the city centre. Wow, she’s rocking to the jagged beat of the nation’s collective heartbeat. What a pity that her act looked like an advert for breakfast cereal.
Naturally there’s nothing wrong with parties or celebrations, but it puzzles me why anyone would want to pop a cork in honour of someone they don’t know. Someone who inherited her ‘job’ whether she liked it or not (part of her terrible burden, gawd bless ‘er) and who, in my view, should have absolutely nothing to do with modern democracy.
I made no friends this weekend after my extended Jubilee tirade, but I have zero regrets for having spoken out. I dislike the monarchy and all it represents. But equally I dislike people who refuse to critique it. In a sense, I feel they’ve rolled over and died. Accepted their free lobotomy.
There seems to be a woolly national consensus along the lines of: ‘well, it might be crap but anything we replace it with would be even crapper!’ God, what a nihilistic viewpoint! A quick reading of the UK’s social history reveals that progressives managed to reform the state to at least make it more accommodating. Of course no self respecting Anarchist would accept a concept like that, preferring to abolish the state altogether. It’s a tempting idea…
Progressive ideals, translated into legislation through political struggle, explain why we no longer ship people off to workhouses. In fact one of my ancestors ended up in one and he probably didn’t survive the experience. It’s why most children can read and write; though frankly literacy levels are shockingly bad in many parts of the UK.
In fact there’s a long list of positive reforms which are still possible, and which I – as a very convinced Socialist – want to see implemented.
But the institution of monarchy has no interest in advancing such ‘naive’ notions, and since it isn’t part of the cure it has no place in 21st Century Britain. I understand the opposing arguments: the Royal Family generates money through tourism. They bring us hope, pageantry and a sense of occasion. Thank you, but there are other ways to generate income – and, in case you are interested – if we removed the Royal Family we could release billions of £s to help us pay off our national debt.
I want the state to release its grip on the lives on ordinary people, and if you’re having a street party please invite me. Just don’t, I beg of you, mention the Queen.