Thursday, 7 November 2019

How our betters bob up and down by Bill Kirton



I usually prefer my monthly blogs to be fresh but, very occasionally, there’s so little ‘freshness’ discernible in the daily antics of the appalling people who govern our destinies and nothing in everyday life that’s not thoroughly depressing that I resort to revisiting some ancient topic I covered in my own blog. Quite frequently, it’s the seemingly inescapable evidence of absurdity  that provokes the piece. This month, however, rather than the bleak absurdity of the cynically mendacious and immoral Johnston, Trump et al’s words and deeds, which confirm the fundamental, philosophical inescapability of the absurd, it’s the version embraced by Jarry, Ionesco The Goons and others who step back from reality and recreate their own version of it for comic effect. Theirs is a sort of harmless absurdity, an expression of amused but extreme disbelief at the charades we all live.
So many of the ways we behave must make God sorry he didn’t choose a different species, such as slugs or mackerel, to be the Lords of creation. I’ve no doubt every nationality has its little foibles and proofs that humans are unworthy to have dominion over Chihuahuas, wildebeests, aphids and the rest but I’d make a claim that the UK must be contenders for the gold medal in unworthiness.
The blog on this topic which I’m raiding for this month’s offering was provoked by a small item in the Guardian newspaper way back when Prince William was first married. Also, for those who don’t live in the UK I should explain that, to the majority of our citizens, being a Guardian reader signifies that you must be a pretentious, gay, communist, ex-hippie, muesli-eating, sandals-wearing coward.
So, on that no doubt sunny morning back then, over my bowl of muesli, I learned all about a document entitled the Order of Precedence of the Royal Family To Be Observed At Court. I googled it to make sure it wasn’t a belated April 1st contribution and found that, apart from the revelations in my paper, there were all sorts of other arcane aspects to who’s who and who can do what at court. (“At court” – a phrase straight out of the Theatre of the Absurd.)
Anyway, this particular piece, and I acknowledge my debt to the Guardian in reproducing its main points here, noted how the OPRFTBOAC had been updated to take into account that someone simply called Kate Middleton had appeared in the Buck House team photos. Now some people think that, because the Queen signs edicts and laws and things ‘Elizabeth R’, she’s Mrs R.
Wrong.
She is, of course, Mrs Mountbatten-Windsor (we’ll leave out all the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha stuff). So when a commoner  arrives, she has to know where she stands. And the gist of it all is that, despite Father Xmas having given Ms Middleton the title of Duchess of Cambridge,  she still has to curtsey to Eugenie and Beatrice, the daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York, one of whom was famous for a while for wearing a fascinator shaped like a pretzel. To be fair, Ms Middleton only has to curtsey if William's not there, but still… And she has to do it whether it’s at a grand public affair or in private. This is because they’re real ‘blood princesses’ rather than arrivistes like her. She also has to curtsey to Charles Mountbatten-Windsor’s wife Camilla too, because she’s the wife of the Queen's son and therefore ‘better’? ‘higher’? ‘more noble’? than the wife of her grandson.
Now, when one considers this is how the people at the pinnacle of British society behave, a society whose lower reaches are rarely free of the grip of one sort of austerity or another imposed by billionaires who have no idea of how they live, we can surely claim the gold medal for absurdity. I’d be very interested to hear about the antics of anyone challenging us.

13 comments:

Susan Price said...

Hi Bill! -- I'm another 'pretentious, gay, communist, ex-hippie, muesli-eating, sandals-wearing coward' of a Guardian reader. What else is there to read in this country if you want a roughly accurate report of how our betters are stitching us up? -- I leafed through my friend's Daily Heil the other day and the first ten pages were headlines screaming about treachery, betrayal and the Labour Party 'preventing' Brexit. Not a whisper of the fact that the Tory right-wing prevented Brexit by voting out May's deal -- and then the Sulk withdrew his deal when Parliament mischievously wanted to know what was in it.

I think God should own up to the drastic mistake She made in creating us at all, let alone setting us over creation. Let slugs rule the earth! (They already rule in my garden.)

Jan Needle said...

Not only am I another pretentious, gay, etc etc, but I also worked for it as a sub-editor (which, incidentally and tragically, they seem no longer to bother with, or maybe can't afford. It might be more democratic/demotic to read stuff which is sometimes bordering on the illiterate, but life was easier for us elitist bastards when it was properly subbed.)
However (truth alert) I only worked on it for one night, because I passed a note to a female sub-editor (name redacted) containing the sort of suggestion considered beyond the pale by the muesli munchers even in those far off days. It's not only the Royal Family who have standards, apparently. How many people know, for instance, that when Peter Sellers used to get down and dirty with Princess Margaret he still had to call her Ma'am? Makes you think, dunnit?
We all need standards, Bill and Sue, and I'd thank you not to forget it. Alexander Boris de Pepperpot Whotsit went to Harrow, doncherknow. And Mrs R herself apparently thinks he's pretty lowlife.

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks, Sue and Jan (although, Sue, we must consider ourselves admonished for our presumptuousness by someone of perhaps brief, but nonetheless admirable, journalistic pre-eminence).
Oh, and many thanks, Jan, for the inside track on how to bring a little class into any future dalliances.

Jan Needle said...

Bingo!

Umberto Tosi said...

Thanks for this pause that refreshes - as the Coca-Cola Santa says, leading us into the absurdities of the season, as well as year-round. Gosh, what do they call and American who reads The Guardian? I confess to all (most) of the above, by the way. I would add the Marx Brothers to you list of sublimely silly acts! Cheers, Bill!

Susan Price said...

Oh, the Marx Brothers! Loved them as a kid and still do.

Jan Needle said...

Karl was the funniest tho, by a long shot.

Enid Richemont said...

Oh who did the unforgettable and brilliant sketch about class? I SHOULD KNOW!Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, wasn't it? If you've never seen it, Google it. Tells you all you need to know about the British class system.

Re- the possible superiority of slugs: I blush to admit I am a sluggist, unable to envisage the invisible Deity in that image. Would be happy to promote/elevate dolphins, though, as they seem to be both intelligent and compassionate. Some of the primates, too, but not the ecclesiastical ones.

Bill Kirton said...

I suspect the sketch was by Cleese and the 2 Ronnies in a show whose title I can't remember. A bit ironic in terms of the direction Mr Cleese seems to have been taking lately.

julia jones said...

Absurd indeed. Thanks Bill

Clare Weiner (Mari Howard) said...

Just found this and loved it! Not gay, but def a reader along with the rest of that scoundrel of a news-rag, in search of the approximate truth (nearest we can get today).

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks Clare/Mari, and welcome.

Sandra Horn said...

I'm a humble i reader, so I hope I'm allowed to comment. It's Gormenghast, the precedence thing, as is the fact that they have to keep having weddings, babies and stuff like that at regular intervals to keep the populace happy. Or maybe Ionescu did write it for them.