Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday night, 3rd June, Monarch Celebration

  I have been so curious to see how this would play out, this Jubilee.  I mean, I am a big one for the 4th of July, I really feel it, this love of the United States, so I was wondering if anyone here in the UK would be feeling the Jubilee and if so, how they would celebrate it.

 Answer:  Cupcakes, bunting, cucumber sandwiches, community lunches, street parties.   And a hearfelt respect and admiration for the Queen.  Now that turns my stomach, personally, I mean, a monarch?  Someone who is better than you by accident of birth yet you support it?  Yech.

 Yet I respect how they feel about their Queen here.  A lot of working class people get an element of their identity from her, she holds their gracious dignity and devotion to duty, she is that part of them. And the mums I talk to from the middle class here - and they are mums, not moms, these British ones -- they like the Queen. They like her.  And they are happy that a big component of their relationship to the State is their affection for the Queen.  As someone who has been known to get the crowd on a Metro train chanting "USA . . . USA . . . USA. . ." I am not one to judge.  I accept.  I can even celebrate.

I can almost even celebrate. I am in Brecon.  We have been married for ten years and we have taken our two children back here for half term, to see the Cathedral where we were wed and Peterstone Court, where we had our reception.  Of course they don't care that much.

But walking through Brecon is a horror show of the worst effects of the austerity economics the government has foolishly chosen to get us through this worldwide recession.  So many closed stores, so many Poundlands and the like, even a store called "CHEAP BOOZE" has opened on the High Street.  This is where I come from.  This is where my Grandmother lived and died.  This is where my mother got married, and I got married, and it's just not a good situation.
 
I don't blame anyone for celebrating being British.  You have Dr. Who, Wimbledon, Shakespeare, The National Theatre, Jo Malone, Elton John, Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts, Neverland and Mr. McGregor's Garden.    Not to mention The Beatles. 


Yet Brecon - it's like Pottersville when Jimmy Stewart had never been born in It's A Wonderful Life.  Except Brecon doesn't have a hero like George Bailey who will emerge via Clarence to resolve it into the better reality.  It doesn't.  It is impoverished, large corporations are cynically sucking out the sustenance capital that is left.  The streets are filled with powerless people.  And maybe as long as the people of Britain have an affectionate relationship with the State via the Queen, and we give the Queen all the power, we will not find the power we need to heal these cities and to be their George Bailey.
 
Whether intentional or not, the Jubilee and the Olympics are a distraction from impending economic disaster.  I know precious little about economics but I think the unprecedented crises in Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece will affect us all. Ah, we have been stretched, but we will be stretched more. No amount of cupcakes and bunting will change that reality.

3 comments:

  1. Rachel,
    Can I just comment on "Someone who is better than you by accident of birth yet you support it?"
    I'm English, and a proud monarchist. I admire the Queen and the way she fulfills the role. But I have never considered her "better" then me. She has a very different role to my own and I'm grateful that her and her family are prepared to undertake their role(s), it is not one I would want for myself or my family, for all their "privilege" they miss out on so much. I think most British people feel like this, we don't easily consider people as "better" than us. :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment. The Monarchist position is interesting and truly heartfelt, and that cannot be denied. It made me more curious, though. I mean, people bow to the Queen, right? It is an honour to meet her, right? So how does that square with her not being better than you? Or is it that there is a social hierarchy but even though she is at the top and you are not, no one at any place in the hierarchy is better or worse than anyone else? Thanks again . . .

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  2. Clearly there are many ways to rank people into hierarchies, wealth being the one we use most frequently. But, personally, I would avoid applying "better" to those at the top of the ranking and "worse" to those at the bottom.
    I would bow to the Queen, out of respect for her as an individual, I have nothing but admiration for the way she has performed the role and her sense of duty, and out of respect for my own country, that as our head of state, she represents. I think I would feel very differently about bowing if she'd been elected to the position. Funny that really, but it's because she is there by accident of birth that I respect her more. Remember, she never stood up and said "make me your queen".

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