Monday, 2 May 2011

A postmodern wedding

Always trying to look on the bright side as I do, I have to acknowledge with thanks the fact that Stephen Fry did not get an invite to the Royal wedding.

Still, Veruca Beckham and Stilton John did manage to wangle one, so either they were just pulling names out of a big hat, or the invite list got mixed up with the nominations for Britain’s Most Obnoxious Celebrity.
How does Stilton John qualify as a suitable guest when so many people who actually did something at some point in their lives did not? Take your pick from an endless list. Stephen Hawking, Simon Weston, Googie Withers... whoever you like. What edged this preposterous berk ahead of that company? His obnoxiousness? His hippopotamus-sized ego? His brave decision not just to wear a ludicrous vanity wig in public but to have it actually stitched into his head? The fact that he looks like an enormous baby peering out from under a cocoanut?
If he's a personal pal it's news to me. So far as I know he had no connection with the royal family whatever until he transformed the already terrifying Diana memorial service into a mawkish pop concert with a hastily rewritten dirge in which he explained how she lived her life like a candle. (A candle, what’s more, that had to withstand the buffeting of a strong breeze while simultaneously not fading in the sunset during a rainstorm: a non-image that in its own grotesque way summed up its moment better than words that mean anything could ever do.) But there he was all the same, smug as a bug in his rug, gamely trying to remember the words of Jerusalem.

Not much I can say about Royal weddings, really; indeed this was the first one I had seen even a second of since a memorable 1981 afternoon spent in rivuletting spasms of boredom at my grandmother’s house when, as a precociously republican brat, I endured the splicing of the Prince of Wales to that defiantly plain and – in every imaginable sense – profoundly ordinary young woman with an ennui so acute I genuinely feared for my ability to survive the ordeal.
This time around I enjoyed the affair a little more, partly because I shook off my republicanism along with most of my other osmosis-acquired leftist affectations around the time I went to university and realised at claustrophobic quarters just what an insufferable bunch of pseuds and frauds academic socialists really were, and partly because the bride was, for once, a genuine looker.

Still, I remain one who passionately supports the institution of the monarchy while retaining my right not to find anything about the incumbent set remotely interesting.
As for the big do itself, the pomp and tradition – the very things I once thought most objectionable and now most support – were all too obviously tempered by the signs that postmodern triviality is now as deeply ingrained in the very viscera of British society as can be imagined, as evidenced by that guest list – which found room not only for Stilton and the crocodile skin cretin, along with her professional bladder-kicking spouse, but also Mr Bean, who in a previous existence made his living as a sneery anti-establishment sketch actor called Rowan Atkinson. (He’s a friend of the Prince of Wales, apparently, who either has a forgiving heart, or a short memory, or really is as big a nutcase as he seems, or else just enjoys the company of people who made their fortune attacking institutions they reserve the right to dress up and ponce off of when they make their fortunes.)

The unavoidable but still tragically symbolic presence of his Grace the Cowardly Lion only underlined this superficiality. (And did you notice how the old goat faced booby stumbled over his lines? If you suck up to Islamic extremists AND can’t even do the spiel without tripping over your furry tongue, surely it’s time to hang up the robes and make somebody else Archbish. My vote goes to Rowan Atkinson, who certainly looks the part now, and doesn’t seem to be doing anything else these days, unless that cameo in Scooby Doo the Movie wasn’t as long ago as my claret-addled memory tells me it was.)
What busted, rudderless fragments of the old order remained on view were more depressing than reassuring, particularly the military uniforms, starched and anachronistic as if borrowed from museum cases for the occasion.

But my interest was outside - where Britain once again confounded its ideological establishment and raised its index fingers to its cultural enforcers, directing its raspberries not at the young couple but at the country's real decadent aristocracy - of tv comics and numbing lefty pundits. Thought we hated the Royal Family did you? Thought you spoke for the majority? Have we got news for you, then.
I love it when the Blackadder set are left stranded like this: it doesn’t happen nearly often enough, but I suppose it is that very rarity that leaves them so unprepared every time. It wasn’t just the absence of what I had thought would be the inevitable publicity-robbing terrorist outrage, or even of any sign of that palsied fool Chris Knight who had been all over the BBC threatening to "raise hell" with his naff ‘street theatre’ protests. (The reason being, I learn subsequent to writing the above, that he had been arrested with his wife and some other dipshit the night before, intending as they were to behead effigies of the happy couple outside the cathedral.)
No, it was the sheer overwhelming good will, and the complete absence of cynicism, the noxious religion of BBC Britain.
Because the civilised majority work to entirely different codes from the minority that control the culture it is all too easy for them to be underrated in their capacity to resist indoctrination. Having denied them a voice, the leftist establishment frequently makes the mistake of thinking they don’t exist at all. This mistaken belief is only strengthened by the good people's refusal - perhaps suicidal, but admirable all the same - to revolt whenever they are fresh oppressed. Since the Left like nothing more than a good riot, and will seize even the absurdest excuse to have one, they make the mistake of thinking that when real people don’t go out throwing fire extinguishers at the police with each new instance of totalitarian oppression that must mean that they are in agreement, or so cowed that they no longer know their own minds.
Not at all: it is because those who cling to the last tattered fragments of civilisation know that part of what makes one civilised is the innate reluctance to make noisy protest until the proverbial camel’s back is fnally snapped by the last proverbial straw (which just might be any day now, but still).
What does bring them out on to the streets, though, is not the chance to fake displeasure and smash a few windows but things that make them happy.
So suddenly there they were: still alive, and still among us, terrifying the establishment with their heretic decency, good-naturedness, enthusiasm for tradition, and refusal to be embarrassed by their nationality or their flag. Like plague rats they came, swarming over leftist consensus, their weapons the steadfast refusal to hate anybody, or to view monarchical privilege as an injustice crying out for blood. As for that 68 year old adolescent prat Chris Knight - what price now your little street theatre protests? I hope you woke up in your cell next morning with a bad back and the certain knowledge that you are the most obsolete man who ever lived, but I doubt it, somehow. Almost certainly he’s still going on today about ‘how much it’s all going to cost us’, the moron.
Most amusing to see the BBC coverage, with dimwit presenters (a female pop music expert and a man who – I confirm from personal experience – makes a drunken nuisance of himself on trains) interviewing these strange alien lifeforms and – for the only time in their lives – forced to choke on the repelled incomprehension their values engender in their trendy young breasts and honour this one-shot corporate obligation not to mock but to feign endorsement.
These are the people they at all other times dismiss joyfully as blimps and bigots, and defame and demonise in any way they can, as vomiting harpies in sub-cretinoid tv sketch comedies, or as loony Christians intent on the burning of poor downtrodden homosexuals in village squares. (BBC definition of a blimp: one who does not passionately loathe his country and everything it stands for.)
But today the world was watching, so the corporation had to fake respect, and instruct its gang of bullies and brutes to do likewise. They couldn’t quite pull it off, of course, but they tried – oh how hilariously they tried.
Fearne Cotton, I won’t forget the fun you gave me this week.


George said...

Excellent Mr Bede. As good as Melanie Phillips's article. 'He looks like an enormous baby peering out from under a cocoanut' is worthy of Clive James.

I'll take your word for how those presenters normally behave, but I thought the BBC coverage was good. Huw Edwards in particular I thought was note-perfect, his accolade being that hacks in several newspapers sneered at him for being deferential and not 'light' enough.

The only annoying thing in the wedding (apart from the celebs and the archbish) was the fleet of mini-vans ferrying the minor royals. So nice to see the police without their hideous yellow bibs.

The service itself was inspiring and uplifting: in fact it made me want to start going to church again, for the beauty and moral exhortations if nothing else. I suppose there aren't quite the same production values every week, but even so.

But the crowds were definitely the best part.

James Nicholas said...

"So suddenly there they were: still alive, and still among us, terrifying the establishment with their heretic decency, good-naturedness, enthusiasm for tradition, and refusal to be embarrassed by their nationality or their flag. Like plague rats they came, swarming over leftist consensus, their weapons the steadfast refusal to hate anybody, or to view monarchical privilege as an injustice crying out for blood.

Loved it. That was choice good stuff. Bravo Mr. Bede!

The Venerable Bede said...

Can anyone remember that bloke's name? He was on tv a lot, in the run-up to the wedding and at the time of the student protests. Bald, far too old for his rhetoric, famously told the students to raise hell. It's driving me mad because I wanted to quote him properly.

The Venerable Bede said...

George - I agree about Huw. I specifically meant the ones on the streets interviewing the license fee peasants, specifically intended to bring a touch of sass to the coverage.
Only 'as good' as Melanie's??? (Just kidding.)

James - Thanks! Can I have a gold star?

Recusant said...


You'll be thinking of Chris Knight of the 'Government of the Dead' street theatre anarchists and sacked ex-Ini professor. Aged 68, grey and bald.

The Venerable Bede said...

Ah, yes - that's the twat. Thank you. I've corrected the piece and updated it - he was in pokey the whole time. Thanks for the info.

Clare said...

My favorite part was Kate Middleton's dress, and Kate Middleton all together: she seems lovely, sensible, and with an eye for elegance. I hope those gorgeous sleeves will start to correct the undignified and wholly unflattering trend of bosom-baring, strapless, wedding dresses.

The Venerable Bede said...

I can't say I found her exactly hard on the eye either.

Anonymous said...

While I have little interest in watching a couple of welfare recipitents get married it certainly provided an excuse to have a thoroughly good party with a huge number of people from every social background.

The Venerable Bede said...

I liked the fact that there were people from 'every social background' only in so far as it gave the lie to the convenient fiction of the Chris Knights of the world that the less well off are axiomatically resentful of the monarchy.
Otherwise I don't set much store by such things and don't have a bean counter's mentality when it comes to assigning humans their own herd. (That said, wasn't it great to see so many brunettes there, especially mixing freely and contentedly with all those blondes.)

Obviously they aren't welfare recipients, as you of course know. If they were I suspect you'd be all for them.
Vive le difference!

hellosnackbar said...

And Anjem Choudary wasn't invited

hellosnackbar said...

Stilton John!
Is that because his new hair is really fungal mycelia?