I’m grateful, personally, to have been out of the UK for the celebration of Lizzie’s 70 years on the throne of Britain and wherever she still appears on coins and stamps.
I’m happy for people to have their fun and wave their flags. The idea of celebrating an old woman with a sense of duty isn’t bad, is it?
(We’ll overlook the tax and the funding and the Nazi salutes and support and the exceptions to equality laws so that “coloured immigrants or foreigners” be kept from roles other than as domestic servants).
The problem is, it doesn’t seem to stop there.
What could, at best, be a unifying force for a country is used as a wedge between people.
A test of patriotism which magneticallys link to symbolism rather than reality — just like the poppies.
That links to militarism, to upholding of privilege, and to built-in class distinctions. Instead of building functional institutions, uplifting the people, and celebrating our commonality and difference.
It’s a brilliant Catch-22. If you oppose the pomp and royalism, you are entering into the argument, increasing the schism.
What’s the alternative?
There was a time when I thought it was a good idea to embrace the flag and patriotism. The divide between the ‘cosmopolitan elite’ and ‘the ordinary person’ (to use the Daily Mail language) is a real problem.
But charlatans took that moment, that pride and attempt at unity, and ran with it for separation, anger, and destruction.
That’s why I’m suspicious of bunting, cupcakes (never a good cake, let’s be honest!), and the flag on every bit of interior decoration.
Because it generates energy for returning to the worst of British (English) chauvinism.
Better, of course, to leave it all alone and focus on your own work.
When we have food banks all over the country and desperately needed, disaster relief charities dealing with the “Brexit” crisis on the motorway in Kent, the lowest point in British politics in living memory, there’s work to do.
I’d just like to make sure that in the celebrations and buffoonery and pride and ceremony, there’s a moment of reflection. What have we been, as a country? And what do we want to become?
*I have since learned that it is not, in fact, over.