Living In The Past For One Long Weekend
(Most embarrassing Jubilee product tie-in this week: Krispy Kreme’s pathetic memorial doughnut)
I’m not braving the crowds to stare at an LED screen.
I know I spent the Queen’s Silver Jubilee on some kind of march in Windsor because there’s an old photograph of me (tall and impossibly rangy, with long hair) outside a Windsor bookshop wearing a crown. I missed the gold and diamond events because I possibly had more urgent matters to attend to, like painting the kitchen ceiling.
If you’re a Londoner you know how these things go. There’s a regular supply of beautifully constructed parades and processions taking place just a few minutes away but you don’t go because of the crowds and you won’t be able to see anything. At least at the Lord Mayor’s show they used to sell periscopes.
Now, as at the 02, you find yourself braving the crowds to stare at an LED screen. The days of a concert or parade taking place just a few feet away from you have passed. Instead there are wristbands, stewards, headcams and barriers. No longer will there be a photograph of a policeman hoisting a little girl onto his shoulders.
Except that I notice this year the sight of the Queen lighting the first of the beacons that blaze out across the country is relatively lightly attended, and appears that it would have been easy to be there. I had sworn not to attend anything this time, but the Platinum Jubilee slowly wore me down. I couldn’t miss the Red Arrows and another seventy aircraft conducting their flypast so I popped over to Columbia Road, which was on its route. I admit I stayed for the corgi parade and sundry parties to catch up with a group of friends who’re old enough to have attended this bunting-tastic nonsense the first time around.
I’m not a royalist, although I have admiration for Queen Elizabeth, the exemplar of a dutiful life who inspired various members of my family in different ways over the decades. After her passing I would not keep any of the rest for their use as ceremonial tourist mascots or their value in securing arms deals. With the eventual loss of HRH they could shut up shop, return the remaining commonwealth territories and do something more suited to a modern country that has largely switched from manufacture to new media.
But of course we live in thrall to the handful of ossified Tories who initiated the unmitigated disaster of Brexit and are attempting to bring back imperial measurements. No doubt they’re campaigning right now for the return of polio, Lord Lucan and ‘Crackerjack’. Britain moves slowly; despite the fact that we have become a mainly secular nation, shops still stay shut on Sunday mornings in deference to the church. In my part of town you won’t find any Christians, let alone practising ones.
But Columbia Road provided the right tone for the celebrations, its cosmopolitan mix of people being part old school Cockney, part wealthy youngsters, and all local. The sun shone and the spirit was all a bit ‘Passport to Pimlico’. The most glorious sight was seeing the roads closed so that people young and old could bring tables and chairs out of their houses and sit chatting to all who passed, as WWII planes in a configuration of 70 flew overhead.