Notes From the Margins…

Rejoice and Tug the Forelock

  • April 29, 2011
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The great day has dawned and a patriotic mist has already descended on the nation’s collective brain.   Towns and cities across the UK, including my own, are draped in Union Jacks and the cross of St George,  as millions celebrate the accession of Kate Middleton from the status of ‘commoner’ to a world of inherited privilege – without even pausing for a millisecond to consider the utterly reactionary assumptions that such divisions embody.

According to our ex-Etonian PM,  the wedding will bring ‘happiness and joy and light relief after some difficult times.’   Not quite sure why Cameron chose to insert that ‘after’ when these difficult times have barely begun, but he went on to say that

I think British people… we feel very deeply about the monarchy and the institution, so it’s that mixture of the good looking prince and the beautiful princess, but it’s so much more than that.    It’s this institution that’s helped bind the country together. And it’s got this amazing history that goes way, way back.

Very insightful David.   To ensure that nothing disturbs what police chief Christine Jones has insisted must be ‘a day of celebration, joy and pageantry…a fantastic day for Britain’, police have promised that any protests or disruptions will be met with a ‘robust’ response – as if we haven’t seen enough of such ‘robustness’ already over the last six months.

Yesterday 19 ‘anarchist’ squatters were arrested, in addition to  3 protesters who supposedly planned to guillotine effigies of the Royal Family.  One of them apparently belonged to an outfit called ‘Government of the Dead’ who I’ve never heard of, but would definitely consider voting for.

With ‘pre-emptive’ arrests now bringing us closer to the  ‘pre-crime’  of Minority Report, 5,000 police will be protecting the wedding with a ‘ring of steel’ with snipers on the rooftops,  and additional back-up from the army.

The English Defence League are no longer promising to protect the wedding with their own ‘ring of steel’ to prevent a fringe Muslim group called Muslims Against Crusades from approaching the event.  Nevertheless the EDL leader Tommy Robinson has called on ‘moderate Muslims to give a clear sign to extremists by joining the celebrations’ at what he calls a ‘sacred event.’

All this is clearly about a lot more than Kate n’ Wills.  In the eyes of  the authorities at least,  the wedding  is a celebration of the institutions that define the British state and  an opportunity to project a particular version of Britishness embodied by the grotesque House of Windsor onto the outside world.  For Cameron & Co, it’s a useful distraction and a patriotic bonding ritual.

Why the rest of the world pays such attention to these British bread and circus spectacles is beyond me.  The Daily Mail even celebrates the fact that ‘Poor earthquake-scarred Japan is clearing its media decks for 5 hours of live coverage.’ Of course!  A little dose of Kate n’ Wills to forget your 10,000 dead.

I can’t help feeling a sense of alienation and despair at the sight of the flags and ‘well-wishers’, at the fawning pro-royalist drivel from media pontificators, at the tawdry glorification of celebrity that underpins the whole event, at the whining from ‘senior Labour figures’ that Blair and Brown were not invited – a rare example of good taste in my opinion – and last but not least,  at the sheer gormless infantilism that can lead so many millions to celebrate anachronistic relics of  class privilege that should not be part of a 21st century democracy.

It is not a society that I want to belong to,  and I can only take some consolation from the hope that beyond the world of the tabloids there are many who feel the same way, and from the knowledge that  in 24 hours it will all be over.




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1 Comment

  1. Rory Winter

    29th Apr 2011 - 10:03 pm

    There are many more of us who feel the same sense of alienation as you do, Matt. As usual, the media has served the ruling clique of the establishment well by presenting this grotesque, imperialist pageant as a fairytale occasion. All part of the sleight-of-hand which conceals the nasty, fascist nature of imperialist Britannia, the pomp and pageantry that hides a clapped-out, class-ridden society that chooses to live in the past because it can’t bear to look at an uncertain future…

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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