Part 38: Patriotism

The Queen is literally a posh person’s wealthy Nan who travels the world dressed in boxy, tailored pastel two pieces, waving, attending banquets and thanking strangers for gifts of flowers. In her role as national figurehead the Queen has had little to do with any of the things I am ever moved to feel national pride about (the NHS, the welfare state, Multiculturalism, Heathrow Terminal 5 *). I’m not saying the woman’s evil, I met her once – well, I served her – well, I cleared her used wine-glass away after the fish course – back in the days when I used to waitress at big army dinners, and she was alright. I mean, she treated me exactly as you would expect a privileged rich person to treat the sixteen-year old on minimum wage clearing away her dirty crockery: like staff. But even so, I’ve never thought she was worthy of particular admiration; she just does what she needs to do, except that unlike millions of women elsewhere on the planet what she needs to do is reasonably pleasant and regularly necessitates the wearing of a diamond encrusted headpiece. I’m therefore perplexed by the national mood, which appears to be one of jubilance for the Jubilee.

My facebook homepage shows a series of friends engaging in genuine inter-generational celebrations of national pride – rather than ironic, youth-centric, piss-taking drink and drugs benders like they did at the jubilee in the 70s. Is there something wrong with our generation, or is it me? I seriously don’t get it. Do people really give a shit about the monarchy? Even if they do, does it make any difference whether the country’s figure head is a doddering old granny or a bumbling big-eared toff? Is it something specific about Queen Liz? Will there be similar celebration when Her Majesty leaves this mortal coil and we’re given a couple of days off work for her successor’s coronation? Is it any surprise that the UK has lacked brutal dictatorial regimes when our rich leaders are celebrated by gleeful subjects eating sausage rolls and waving paper flags, willingly, without threat of violence?

I’ve gotta say British people, I’m embarrassed by the whole thing. Our gusto for indulging in patriotic jubilee celebrations does little for our international street-cred. I’m going to refrain from going on a political rant about the ludicrousness of celebrating an institution which epitomises the class divide at a time when the aristo political leaders of this fine nation are introducing cuts and tax policies specifically designed to drive those on the bottom of the wages heap into total poverty. I’m sure our international audience are less bothered by that than they are about what the iconography says about us as a nation. Daft union jack themed hats are in the same general ball-park as wigs in my view. Wearing them en masse casts us as the village idiots of the international landscape. ‘Bunting’ is a word that sounds twee-er than it actually is; voluntarily decorating one’s garden with it in honour of a woman who we actually pay tax dollar to keep in luxury is the equivalent of getting on our knees and sucking George Osborne’s dick to say thanks for that u-turn on the pasty tax. These rich people are openly fucking with us and our response is gratitude. No wonder America thinks of us as her agreeable, effeminate bitch.

What has any of this got to do with being single? Well, very little if I’m totally honest, except that the mood for twee patriotism is going to make it even more difficult than it already is for me to find a suitable life-partner. I’m not willing to enter into a relationship with someone who has ever bought bunting, or attended a community street party without extreme parental coercion. I’m even less willing to enter into romance with a man who gets tearful listening to/singing the national anthem. If the opening of most sporting events I’ve watched are anything to go by, this pretty much rules out all the fit, outdoorsy members of our species who like to play football, and the fat indoorsy members who like to watch it.

Is there any way to gauge a person’s appetite for patriotism without directly enquiring? Is there some kind of group I can join? Preferably one without a fee, or regular meetings that require commitment of time. It could be that an indifference to feelings of collective national pride genetically predisposes one to remaining alone. In which case, it would need to be a singles group. Yes, let’s make a group! I’m sure if us non-patriots did all get together and form a collective, our Christmas party would piss all over the jubilee. I’ll bring the wine, and set the only rule: bunting is prohibited.

*turns out she opened Terminal 5, and made a rousing little speech about its greatness, so not totally removed from that particular symbol of Britishness, but I’d call opening something a privilege rather than a direct involvement in its construction, and so make myself right.


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