Four Days in Jubilee Land - Day One
I’m quite glad the weather is poor on Day 2 of the Great Jubilee Breakout. It is quintessentially British and allows us to do our traditional British celebrations with even greater enthusiasm and fervour. It would have been no fun to hold our 9,000 plus street parties in the glaring heat of an unseasonal midday sun. Much better to be able to re-locate them all to the village hall and quickly see if the Morris Men can perform tomorrow instead. And of course, as is the way when large numbers of British strangers abandon the modern custom of not talking to each other and gather together, those awkward few hours after introducing each other can now be followed, with relief, by lengthy discourses about the weather. I can’t wait to hear my first “mustn’t grumble” and the more pithy “typical”.
So this is Jubilee Land. Stuck with something to do that hasn’t been done on previous Jubilees or Royal Weddings, the government came up with a four day weekend instead. Like we need an extended holiday in the midst of a recession that Dave and his pals are trying to elongate, but there we go. Yesterday was officially Day One and it began with the remarkable appearance of the Queen at the Epsom Derby. Since she’s only been turning up to this particular event since her coronation it was definitely a classic opener to the four days of increasingly desperate celebrations that are unfolding. I was a little disappointed that the wall to wall coverage occasionally broke off to report on some tedious crowd in Tahrir Square who hadn’t quite got the message about this being a weekend of celebration for Queen Elizabeth II, not for the incarceration of Hosni Mubarak, but I guess world communications aren’t what they used to be. Didn’t we used to run Egypt?
The breathtaking footage of the Queen alighting from her car to listen to an opera singer do her best to make the national anthem sound, well, anthemic, was followed by the oft repeated expectation that the Queen might one day have a winner at the Derby. I didn’t really understand this. If she’d followed everyone else and put her tenner on the absolute dead cert favourite she could have had a definite winner yesterday. And it was even called Camelot, presumably in honour of the Queen’s great great great (etc) grandfather King Arthur of blessed memory. The Queen’s not short of a bob or two and can afford to invest in good horse racing advice, so a bit of a Jubilee learning curve for her there I hope.
The Epsom Derby was about it as far as Jubilee celebrations went yesterday and given that it’s something of a fixture in the annual calendar I’m not sure it wins many marks for originality, but things are bound to ratchet up today with the Grand Boat Pageant. Then of course there’s today’s “Big Rainy Jubilee Lunch” in lots of streets and round lots of village greens (I’m off to my brother’s house for a family gathering as he resolutely refuses to join the hoi polloi). What I’m really looking forward to is the grand beacon lighting on Monday. We have one in the village, and my aged mother (who I hope to goodness never manages the difficult 21st. century technical art of accessing this blog) has even been asked to be one of the beacon fire lighters, which I sincerely hope doesn’t mean she has to cover herself in lighter fuel and take a running jump onto the bonfire. She’s really not up to running these days. Yes, Jubilee Land is a fantastic, fun loving place, although we shouldn’t forget the serious message at its heart, of a woman who was born to the wrong parents at the wrong time and has had to spend sixty years waving, cutting ribbons, watching Morris Men, living in a range of castles and palaces in need of modernisation and never getting a winner at the Derby.