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.
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.