Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lovely things happening to lovely people

If, like me, you were delighted with the news of another Royal Wedding pushing all that depressing *news* out of our papers and off the radio, even as far as Australia, you... excuse me... I'll start that again.

Getting married can be a very stressful affair. You have to sort out the flowers, book a scout hut somewhere for the reception, ensure racist aunty Joyce doesn't sit next to your new black father-in-law - and don't mention the cost of it - whew! - madness.

It must be ten times worse if you're a Royal Family member. For a start booking out a Cathedral must cost a packet. I hear the entire thing is going to cost in the order of thirty million quid, which is a lot of sausage rolls and Cava I can tell you. How are they going to afford it all? I mean the Prince doesn't even w... pardon? Who's paying for it? The greedy buggers!


I know this is meant to be a cue for a miserabilist rant about the Royals, but I thought I might take a different tack to this story about a couple of irrelevances who're squeezing the state for everything they can get due to an anachronistic travesty of an institution.

You see, while I take the abolition of the Monarchy as a given, I do want to avoid the traditional grumble fest of negativity that surrounds these events. Too late you say? Well, yes, you're probably right... but regardless there is an argument that goes 'why are we spending money on this huge bash when there are people sleeping in the streets?' and I'd like to take a moment to edge, ever-so-slightly away from that.

Whatever the horrors that David Cameron is planning for us with his happiness index there is an essentially correct point at the heart of it which is profit and growth are not anything like the same thing as happiness and fulfillment.

Now thirty million is not a huge amount in the big scale of things. It's half the cuts Lewisham council are going to be making over the next three years for example. That's something obviously - libraries saved, nurseries staying open an extra year, that sort of thing - but seeing as the coalition want the cuts and won't even save front line police it seems unlikely that the money would have been spent on that rather than ordering a new Afghan gobbling machine.

I'm cautious simply because the same argument gets wheeled out over the arts, over community festivals and all kinds of joyous cultural wheezes. Why should we spend money on opera when there are children starving? Why spend money on modern art that most of the population doesn't understand when many pensioners live in poverty? Why indeed?

For me I believe that the coming inevitable socialist utopia will still have national occasions like this. Not Royal Weddings of course, but celebrations of essentially meaningless events - and I suspect we'll have them long before all world hunger is cured and poverty eradicated.

A society that doesn't have 'coming togethers', where we see the value in each other and citizens get to feel a genuinely valued part of society, is unlikely to care much about the old, sick or the young. If we don't have fun or pride or culture, even difficult culture that people don't understand, then there precious little chance that ordinary people are going to devote their time to good causes.

Socialism isn't all increasing zinc production and utilitarian tower blocks you know. There needs to be some light in there too.

This event is, of course, as divisive as it is uniting and serves to exclude the nay sayers as much as it helps anaesthetise the enthused - but there is worth in celebrations - even when we're a long way short of a perfect world.


weggis said...

Yes, but we can still choose which ones we join in with......

... as I recall we had a public holiday when his mum and dad got married and I spent it up a ladder painting window frames.

Charlie Kiss said...

I understand where you are coming from. Money isn't really the issue for me (though if I was really skint it might be)

But it's the whole deference thing that gets to me. And I do believe it's a serious problem that pervades society in Britain that 'some' are just born to rule, whether they are born into royalty, the house of lords or to Eton (where they almost are given the right to rule!- certainly led to believe that they should anyway) Whereas all the rest of us 'know our place'

The main big elephant in preventing us having a democratic constitution is the Queen. ( and she effectively grants too much power to the Prime Minister as she is not suppose to effect policy) it's all a big mess.

Why should it be a cause for national celebration?
Yes their photos could go in Hello mag.and all that but do all the media have to go overboard? It's totally over the top.
However the good news is that the organisation campaigning for a democratic alternative to the monarchy,
Republic say:

"We saw in Sweden earlier this year how a big royal wedding provided the republican movement there a huge boost in support and members."

And already they have seen an increase in numbers. It bodes well really:

Jim Jepps said...

Weggis: you know how to live.

I spent the night before at the fireworks in Hyde Park and saw the crowds outside St Pauls (?) but didn't hang round for the "happy" couple to troop by.

Charlie: I saw that Republic release - I think it will probably have the same effect here if the media decide to go for blanket coverage. The Independent was the only paper yesterday not to run the story on their front page - good on them.

I'm not for this celebration - I just wanted to say that one argument against this 'that you could spend this money on pensioners' while true is not one I'll be advancing. After all we could spend the money on proper May Day celebrations, or Oliver Cromwell day.

Joe said...

Try seeing this on the news first thing when you get home, two hours after being given your week's notice, that'd make anyone a republican in an instant (certainty evangelised my "lapsed" republican tendencies)

Oliver Cromwell day? that'd go down like a bucket of cold sick, if I had a blog half as decent as this one I'd be suggesting we tear down his statue at westminster and replace him with John Lilburne or Thomas Rainsborough.

Jim Jepps said...

Joe - I'd go for statues of them as well rather than instead of... although if I'm ever made commissar for statues my intention is to simply rename all those generals on horses that litter the capital.

In future they'd be known as 'Dobbin and rider', 'Mr Snickers and mount', etc.

Mind you Cromwell Day was off the top of my head and mainly in reference to what he did to the royals so am happy to hear suggestions for better ones.

What day would people like to celebrate?

weggis said...

I celebrate every day... well, I have a few jars every day!

darryl said...

I'm reminded of when I started to kick up a fuss over Blackheath fireworks, when Greenwich Council pulled its £37K funding from an event jointly-run with Lewisham Council.

"But fireworks aren't very important in the grand scheme of things," crowed some bore on Twitter. But the fireworks went ahead, drew a huge crowd, and made people happy. That's worth £37k, especially as Greenwich has blown more on sillier things.

I find the royals a freak show - but even if this was a sober-faced republic, it'd still find a way of chucking away money on self-celebratory moments. At least people, however deluded they are, can still feel a part of the royal wedding. The Windsors are evil geniuses like that ;-)

Jim Jepps said...

I agree, we definitely need a family of evil geniuses to take over running our side.