When I’m asked, as I often am, ‘What did you do in the Queen’s silver jubilee, daddy?’ I proudly reply that I, and the rest of my hardline republican family, watched in disdain from our living room window as our neighbours cavorted under shimmering rows of Union Jack bunting in their feeble attempt to feel part of the nation’s family. I also add that at one stage I ran upstairs to blast the recently released Sex Pistols single, ‘God Save the Queen’, from my bedroom with the window wide open. On hearing this, many people look at me pityingly, as if to suggest that it is I who am the fool in my pathetic inability to celebrate and have fun thanks to our noble monarch. I do often quickly add that I did, in fact, turn out to see the dear old fruit in the flesh that year, as she visited Bristol on her Jubilee tour, hoping this fact will not make me look like such a curmudgeon. I then have to go on to admit that I only did so because I was working for the council at the time (my first job of work at the age of 16) and they gave us an extra hour off to pop down the road and see her and Philip bob along in their open top carriage from Temple Meads Station to the City Centre. It was a free hour, so thought it churlish to not take a look. As it turned out, we got pretty close but ‘Her Majesty’ looked about miserable as you might expect someone forced to flounce around a town they have no interest in to look. We laughed and trudged back to our meaningless desk jobs and an afternoon of rubber band flicking, no doubt.
That’s the way the Silver Jubilee in 1977 was for me. I do hasten to add, in defence of my dear family, that my Dad did serve in the army as a Grenadier Guard for twelve years, having signed on for twenty one but being forced to cut short his service due to ill health, so it’s not as if we were an unpatriotic lot. Blimey, Dad, on top of guarding the monarch at places like Buck House and Windsor, even went abroad a few times and spent a number of years shooting at foreigners for the Queen and country. So, I’d say our anti-Royalist feeling was based on a fair bit of knowledge and experience.
I mention all of this because, as you may have noticed, the Queen is now celebrating sixty years on the throne – which, apparently, is a Diamond Jubilee. Credit where credit is due, it’s a bloody long time and I’ve no doubt she hasn’t enjoyed it all, having to undertake tasks she’d rather not, such as bestowing knighthoods on the likes of Tom Jones and Mick Jagger or attending yet another Royal Command Performance at the Palladium. You have to feel for her. Still, I did imagine that the country may have grown up a little since ’77 and decline to indulge in mass hysteria and self-delusion on behalf of Mrs. Windsor. Sadly, it is I, dear reader, who is deluded. How could I have expected a nation which, in recent history, has shown a frightening level of emotional incontinence on behalf of people we don’t even know (see Diana Spencer and the Queen Mother for example, let alone the death of Amy Winehouse), to have matured at all? No, we’ve regressed even further into babbling infancy as we rush to pay our tributes to a family who have inherited untold wealth and prestige at our expense. ‘But she works so hard!’ I hear you retort. Really? I’m not denying she is asked to be bored frequently on our behalf or do things she’s no interest in but if you want to pay tribute to hard work with little thanks I’d suggest you turn your attention elsewhere. Do you really need a list?
No, nothing much has changed in thirty five years: us British are still embarrassingly dependent on those we are taught are our ‘betters’ and have no clue on how to gain control of our own lives. Still, what with all this Jubilee stuff and the Olympics, at least we can fiddle while Rome burns. We have no bread? Let’s all eat shit or, as bad, watch it on TV.