The art of grinning and bearing it.

June 4, 2012 7:26 pm

The Jubilee celebrations are dwarfing other important events in today's politics

I’m just going to come right out and say it. The current state of jubilation and excitement in the UK is making me feel rather giddy and sick. Like a cheesecake with slightly too much cheese, or the chocolate fudge cake that’s slightly too rich, I am feeling emotionally bloated by the current mood in old blighty. And why, I hear you ask? Well, to me, this whole sorry situation proves the point that us humans like nothing more than a good old circus. Indeed, it was the Roman satirist Juvenal, who wrote about his belief that the people of Rome, however troubled their lives were, could be muted and won over with the prospect of ‘bread and circuses’. Today, we like to think of ourselves as an evolved species; a society full to the brim of intellects and individuals who actively question the every questionable move of those who are democratically accountable to us. Yet, for the most part, as soon as some bunting and a few old Union Jack flags are plastered across villages and towns nationwide, we suddenly seem to forget everything and engage in what I like to call, everything that is ‘sickly sweet’. So sweet, it makes you want to vomit violently; over and over again.

You see, this week alone we’ve seen David Cameron make the controversial decision to reject calls for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to be referred to an independent enquiry following the accusations from some that he broke the ministerial code by lying to parliament. In any other week, the country would be in uproar about such a decision. This week, however, it’s only poor old Harriet Harman showing any interest whatsoever; even Ed Miliband, who usually jumps on any negative news the government has to offer like a mouse to a cheese-trap, has pretty much given up on trying to muster any sort of interest in this whatsoever. I’m sure Ed, much like the rest of the British population, is too busy sculpting scones into the shape of Queen Elizabeth’s head, or putting the finishing touches to the light-hearted hostage plan, whereby innocent people are held ransom in their homes by street parties preventing them from leaving the revelry right outside their doors. This is made worse by the fact that these celebrations are unavoidable. Much like the plagues of centuries past, this plague is one of forced happiness and glee, made worse with every glimpse of a flimsy union jack bunting or picture of Elizabeth smiling down upon you with that smile that balances the unwavering authority of a powerful dictator, and the meekness of a children’s television character in the way that only she will ever be able to perfect.

Monday will see Gary Barlow bring Central London to a standstill with his Buckingham Palace concert to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee in style. I can only imagine the response that Elizabeth will give to Jessie J ad-libbing every note in her way through recession anthem ‘Price Tag’, or JLS gyrating around the palace to another euro-pop stomper. All of this is made worse by the fact that we know serial hand-waving, orange-skinned, face-looks-like-a-suitcase warbler Cliff Richard will be yet to perform. There’s only so many times you can hear ‘The Millenium Prayer’ being sung by Cliff and the annoying children’s choir with the frankly bizarre facial expressions, before ending it all really seems like a viable option. If that’s not enough to send you spiralling over the edge into an abyss where hope for the future is all but a distant memory of your happier years, I’m sure an appearance by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the subsequent medley of his show tune back catalogue will finally finish you off.

Now, I must not be entirely negative. I’m sure, deep down, I too am excited about the jubilee festivities. I love the fun and frivolity of a national celebration, and it’s nice to see everyone get together and join as one nation, especially at a time when we are often more divided than united than ever. That being said, there is one thing I simply cannot bear. Enforced fun. Planned fun. Strict fun. It’s one of my pet peeves, and I know I’m not the only one. Like when you’re forced to play the board game at Christmas you really don’t want to play, or being intimidated by a schedule at a party where the host is having about as much someone frantically completing their to-do list as they wait to be violently murdered, the jubilee, too, is an example of enforced fun. And it’s this that really puts me off all the festivities. The idea that we must all be having fun over the coming weekend; that it would be inappropriate for us not to. The metaphorical guns have been placed directly at our backs by the excitable revellers; the minority have to just sit and wait until the positive fun-fuelled mutiny is over.

You may think I’m being overdramatic at this point. Please, if you have the time, do come back and re-read my sentiments after your ninetieth mini sausage roll, and your viewing of the fourth consecutive higlights package of the weekends events. If you can still say, hand on heart, that you’re happy as larry, no matter how many ‘there’s been an earthquake killing millions somewhere but it doesn’t matter because the queen rode a horse down a road’ news bulletins you’ve had to bear, you’re a better person than I’ll ever be. The jubilee challenge is on; try and force a smile in a few days time. Go on; I dare you.

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