Adamski and I are at the supermarket on Wednesday evening. We're about to have tagliatelle at his gaff, so we're here for fresh parmesan and napkins. He's flummoxed and indecisive at the remarkable range of serviettes on offer, including the special edition, Diamond Jubilee Union Jack jobs. Eventually, he opts for some 'seaside-y' ones that remind him of napkins once given to him by his mum. As we approach the checkout I ask him what he thinks of "this jubilee business." He calmly reflects that he is "a bit of an anarchist." He questions the cost of the whole shebang "and the Olympics!" When he asks what I think, I respond that "I'm trying to assess the proceedings without anger or cynicism."
We've been in Adrian Sherwood's studio all afternoon, covering an Englebert Humperdinck classic for Adamski's 'Neo-Waltz' project. Before we began work, Adrian regaled us with his special jubilee remix of Lee Scratch Perry's daftly perverse Queen Elizabeth's Pum Pum. It commences with Barack Obama toasting the queen, and continues with extracts from her maiden Christmas address in which she pledged the nation her heart. The other voice you hear on Adrian's deranged 'skank' is Lee's, jabbering about her majesty's privates. "Keep jumping for I" he drawls. It's a hysterical mash-up. Adrian grins impishly at its punkish naughtiness.
His irreverence, like Adamski's anarchy, is heartening. There have been points this week where I thought I might be burned as a witch for my indifference to the impending jamboree. I have nothing against the monarch as another human being. I begrudge her neither her wealth nor her popularity. It's just that whenever I soften to the idea of her role or the validity of constitutional monarchy, I inevitably stall at the point where I'm supposed to be a deferent subject. I supposedly owe her my allegiance, as if I gestated in the royal uterus or something. This is when I have to be grateful that my success hasn't led me into an awkward situation whereby I'd have to curtsy before her and "Prince frigging Philip," as Victoria Wood once wrote.
On Monday morning I was having coffee with my friend Charlotte. She was on fabulous form. She's always very entertaining after a cappuccino or two. She gets wonderfully wired and tub-thumps gutturally, juxtaposing words like parenthesis, epicurean and ****ing into the most delicious syntax. If she could gavel the table with her cup she would. She's having none of my jubilee indifference. As far as she's concerned the United Kingdom is "a fantastic country" because "the system," as she puts it, works. I'm inclined to agree that it is indeed a fantastic country, but I can't see how everything that is wonderful about it explains the necessity of 'Miss Thing' of 'Buck House.' I summon some recent statistics regarding social mobility between the classes. The statistics overwhelmingly conclude that talented people from lower classes and lesser universities get overlooked for positions of importance in favour of people from the upper classes. My point is that the 'royalty thing' maintains this unfortunate state of play. Her riposte declaims that the French Revolution didn't rid France of aristocracy and that there still remains a powerful, old money plutocracy there. I tentatively agree that, historically maybe, Britain's constitutional monarchy could be the best of a range of bad systems.
The night before Charlotte's cappuccino tub-thump, I had unleashed my own tirade on my friend Paul Burston's lively Facebook page. I arrived home after a day of toasting myself on Brockwell Hill with El Boyfo. We'd been sunbathing, people watching, reading papers and merrily damning the daftness of the impending pageantry: I found news of the jubilee flotilla reasonably risible, particularly the minor detail of Gary Barlow having an entire Thames bridge to his specially composed royal ditty - a song I hope never to hear. Meanwhile, with typical agent provocateur style, Paul had posted a surprisingly insouciant Daily Pail article by Suzanne Moore, igniting a thread that raged for hours. El Boyfo loves Paul's profile, so we rarely miss it. What with the 'pre-jubilee' papers and my sun-stoked treason, I waded in somewhat, unleashing a little light vitriol. An especially odious royalist, who claimed to know, more than I ever will, "exactly what it is that they do!" called me bitter, sour, ungrateful and mean-spirited - quite the accolade.
I really don't mind a national holiday or a bit of a party. I'm all for celebrations of national identity, "Engerlund Engerlund Engerluund" and what not. I just get irked by privileged festivities affecting my personal calendar. Last year when the Royal Wedding occurred I was mercifully far away (but not quite) in Ireland. It isn't that I dislike Kate and William, but they're not my mates. The Queen seems to be genuinely agreeable, but she isn't my mate either. I remember another jubilee in the 1970s, shivering in a cold Norfolk playground in a thin red white and blue, silver jubilee jacket. My mother bought a commemorative coin with an accompanying booklet that told the Windsor story. I remember feeling sorry for Wallace and Edward - I feel quite differently now. My sister compared the jubilant multitudes on the streets of London to grains of rice. The whole thing bemused me then; it sounded great, but was actually quite dull. Maybe I'm a heretic, but I just don't get it.
Meh. Jubilee Schmubilee.
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