England, my lionheart, where were you yesterday?
Perhaps I’m a peculiar sort of Irish socialist but I love England.
Maybe that’s because my grandfather was English and I bare a sassenach name. Maybe it’s because my cultural diet owes more to England than Ireland: my youth spent listening to The Jam and The Smiths; reading Alan Sillitoe, Keith Waterhouse and Stan Barstow; watching Film Four and the BBC. My political heroes are almost exclusively English also – Gerrard Winstanley, George Orwell, the Chartists, Tom Paine, Tony Benn.
On the other hand you might just put my Anglophilia down to being an Ulster Prod. Those Church of Ireland Sunday School class must have had some Anglicizing effect after all. Whatever.
But for someone who loves England yesterday was fucking painful because on display were all the English characteristics that I have to ignore if my affection for the place is to remain undiminished.
Like any love affair you have to learn to overlook or live with your lover’s follies. Every lover has them – the malapropisms that you allow to go uncorrected; the toenail clippings that litter the bedroom floor from time to time that you discreetly sweep up; the morning flatulence that you pretend not to hear. But every so often your lover might present you with such a demonstration of indecorous and unbecoming behaviour that the foundations of your relationship are rocked and shaken. Yesterday was such an occasion for me and England.
The obsequiousness and the inanity of the BBC’s coverage was toe-curling at times. The suspension of democracy, reason and rational public debate was terrifying, simply for the ease with which it was imposed – republicans arrested on the most tenuous of suspicions; dissenting groups’ Facebook pages deleted; and the infuriating assumption that everybody at least acquiesced to such a grotesque public spectacle.
Even the Irish broadcaster, RTE, where I retreated at one point, interviewed ‘Royal Correspondent’ Jenny Bond, who told us that in all her years covering the monarchy she had tried not to ‘gush’ (really, Jenny?) but today she would make an exception. She told us that even people who weren’t monarchists were enjoying the day.
Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off!
This is what is so perfidious about the whole Royal Road Show, it can brook no dissent, no alternative, it can barely even tolerate indifference to it’s preposterous, archaic existence.