I often go on about how absurd life is. It’s because I believe it’s true and that 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.
This claim is sparked by a small item in my regular newspaper, the Guardian. 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, 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 an early 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 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 her the title of Duchess of Cambridge, Ms Middleton 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.
We’re talking here of the people at the pinnacle of British society, a society whose lower reaches are at present in the grip of an austerity imposed by millionaires who have no idea of how the people they ‘represent’ live, so if that doesn’t earn us the gold medal for absurdity, I’ll be very interested to hear about the antics of those who beat us.