Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How our betters bob up and down

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.


Chester Campbell said...

Well said, Bill, but I'm afraid we in the old "colonies" are almost as bad. Our own millionaires club, known collectively as the Executive and the Congress, appear to have no clue that us "commoners," to borrow a Britishism, would like them to run their business on a cash basis rather than credit. When you keep borrowing money to pay off your loans, how much more absurd can you get?

Jean Henry Mead said...

Why have residents of the UK allowed the royal absurdities to continue, Bill? And why have Americans allowed our government to take away our freedoms, one executive or congressional edict at a time? I chalk it up to apathy and keeping our collective noses too close to our own private grindstones.

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks Chester and Jean. I wish I could answer your questions Jean, but it baffles me too. So many of the things that go on are either so absurd or so undemocratic (or both) that I wonder why there have been no revolutions. We accept too readily the blatant inequities of the 'them and us' status quo.

Jackie King said...

I smiled all the way through your post, Bill. And I agree that we humans are an odd lot. But in answer to a question in your article, I've always thought that was because He loves a challenge. Take love, for example. How hard would it be to get a beagle to love everyone? And mongrels, my favorite breed, even love the people who mistreat them. Go figure.

I also have to put in a word for the common working slob. Most of us don't have time to start revolutions. We're too busy earning a living, caring for our children and friends, and mopping the kitchen floor.

I'm still smiling and hope you know that this comment is all in fun.

Jackie King said...

The above was quickly written and not edited. Mea Culpa.

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks Jackie. I take your point about us 'common working slobs' and confess that, while I'm truly baffled by the absurdity of it all, when I write these things I'm having fun as I do so. If I didn't, it would be easy to become very bitter, and life's far too short for that. I shall now go and court a beagle to see whether your system works.