Monday, 4 June 2012
Yes, I went to the street party. Here I am, with my little flag and my big drink. (yeah yeah, received wisdom, not put own pic on blog in case of recognition and/or stalking etc etc. Frankly I look such a rough old biffer in that photo that I don't expect anyone to associate it with my youthful, beauteous self. Yeah right.) And the majority of my actual friends are actually a bit appalled with me. Fuck the Queen, they say, the monarchy are parasites, patriotism is horrid, you'll be reading the Daily Mail next. They do all, sort of, have a point, but so do I. And my main one is, for all the guff in the papers about how We Mean It Ma'am, We Love Our Queen, god Saaaaaave (as Mr Rotten would put it), I honestly think that the majority of people don't really give that much of a toss about the Windsors, one way or another. They just like to have an excuse for a party. Certainly the main reason for attending our one was because the road adjoining ours did one last year and Trainboy spotted the banners and the bouncy castle and wanted to go and join in (but we didn't as last year's was specifically for the adjoining road; this time the lovely, lively, motivated organisers extended the invite to the three roads that make up our little triangular corner). I am, perhaps unusually for me, in line with the majority position: I don't object to the monarchy strongly enough to deprive Trainboy of a good party. And it was a good party, with actually bugger-all reference to Royalty, loyalty, subservience, knowing your place, British heritage or any of that. I read a few comments online from people saying that they wouldn't go to a street party because they didn't want to drink the Queen's health or say prayers for her or sing the National Anthem and I wonder how many parties really included any such thing anyway. We had circus-skills training, fancy dress competition, talent contest, loads to eat, loads to drink and a cracking good opportunity to get to know the neighbours. Despite the pissing rain and the freezing cold - though at least a party in your own street means you can nip back home repeatedly for a wee, further supplies of food and drink and extra wooly jumpers and wellies. I think a fair few of the people watching the boats going up and down the Thames were there not so much out of monarchism as a wish to look at a lot of beautiful boats, especially if they had children. I'm reminded of the fact that a lot of people declare themselves CofE on forms when what they mean is 'I am a Brit, I go to church for weddings and funerals and quite like singing All Things Bright And Beautiful' rather than 'I believe in Jesus and the Christian God'. At the moment, we've got a monarch, and there is something a bit dodgy about the idea that someone is better than all the rest of us just because that person was born to particular parents. And it's only a few hundred years back that the monarch was just the person who had killed the previous one. I wouldn't be that surprised if the whole concept actually dies when the current Queen does: she herself has managed to remain sufficiently harmless and well-intentioned that most people would feel some reluctance to sack a smiling old lady from a job she's done most of her life without fucking it up. But when she does pop off (and it will be within the next 20 years, at least) that would be the time to say, do we really need this much palaver to keep the tourists coming? Or is it a matter of needing a safeguard against elected power-mad nutjobs; someone with authority to step on the heads of Prime Ministers who want to do diabolical stuff? Though you'd have to wonder, if the current one can do that, why hasn't she before now?