Frivolous Monsters

A Foreigner’s Guide to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Over here recently you couldn’t move for public holidays, Union Jacks, street parties, and bunting… So much bunting… But with so much public televised national partying I do like to think it showed a good image of us Brits around the world.

And I can’t think of any other country that’s got that sort of publicity over here, of public partying, and coming together in national celebration… Well, except for when the Americans killed Osama Bin Laden.

Bad America. Don’t you know people are watching. This doesn’t look good.

So for those that missed it, us with our quaint traditions, allow me to bring to you a foreigner’s guide to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Starting with the Thames River Pageant they put all the big Royals on the same boat which does seem like putting all our eggs in one basket.

They say that one million people turned up to see the Queen being dragged down the Thames on a barge, but then that’s exactly the same amount of people who turned up to watch the giant puppets in Liverpool.

Which just goes to show that people will turn up to anything. Build it and they will come. Giant picture “borrowed” from In The Dark Woods and I don’t normally credit copyright holders!

The event was typically London-centric, as always, which just goes to show how southern-inclined a country we still are. I’m sure that this event could’ve been held equally as well in either Manchester of Birmingham?

It’s all London, London, London…

With so many boats covering such a great distance it was all hands on deck for the BBC presenters. Although I have to say I was slightly taken aback when I found out that the flotilla wasn’t being led by the Queen, but by John Bannerman on a boat made of bells… Captain Jack on a ringing boat? I’d have turn up to see that.

Another presenter was the never publicity-shy Ben Fogle, who had previous rowed naked across the Atlantic, or something, and the TV announcer echoed a sentiments of a nation when he commented that “at least he’s got some clothes on this time”.

The Jubilee Concert was opened by of-the-moment (read first in a long line of yesterday’s stars) Robbie Williams.

He did lower the tone somewhat when, the man who used to believe he was James Bond, finished his number with a Benny Hill impression. And somehow made it look camper.

The concert gave us a nightmarish vision of what it would be like if octogenarian Cliff Richard finally got his way and could force Radio 1 to still play his music.

will.i.am and Jessie J. Look Cliff, they’re cool because they’ve got individual letters in their names, or something…

The concert featured Shirley Bassey aptly singing Diamonds Are Forever, Paul McCartney doing Live and Let Die, and Grace Jones hula hooping… This was a James Bond convention, right? I was only confused as to why Tom Jones didn’t break out Thunderball.

The highlight of the concert for many was when Stevie Wonder failed to go on, on time, and they shoved Rolf Harris out to fill the dead air. It’s the sign of such a professional that Rolf broke into an crowd-pleasing acapella version of the Two Little Boys which only met with jeering when Lenny Henry tried to cut him short.

Compare this to when modern entertainer Ricky Gervais found Elton John as equally reluctant to make his appearance on time at the Concert For Diana in 2007 and it soon became cringe-worthy TV when all he could pull out of the bag was the offer to the crowd of doing the David Brent dance…

Rolf Harris equals legend.

The concert ended, oddly with the Queen accepting a fist-sized diamond which she used to activate a bizarre mechanism, to set a beacon alight, and finish the programme. I’m guessing that this is reference to the Doctor Who episode Tooth and Claw where her predecessor, Queen Victoria, used a fist-sized diamond to activate a bizarre mechanism, to set a room alight, defeat a werewolf, and finish the programme.

One of these is fanciful fiction… I think. At least one definitely happened.

And that was the Diamond Jubilee and I don’t see what anyone around the world could find odd, or slightly quaint, about any of it.

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17 thoughts on “A Foreigner’s Guide to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

  1. reverend61 on said:

    Hah! I’d not picked up on the Tooth and Claw thing but you’re absolutely right.

    Cliff was bizarre to watch, wasn’t he? I will happily admit I’m a fan of his – as Radcliffe and Maconie once said, you don’t last sixty years in the music business without doing something right, and I have a lot of time for his earlier stuff. But he sounded (as one blogger put it) like he’d been stung by a wasp inside his mouth and then had a stroke live on stage. It really is time the man retired. That said we were dancing along to Devil Woman and Wired For Sound, and then my wife said “Well, at least he’s not doing The Millennium Pra – oh, shoot…”

    I know it’s probably bad form to include links to your own blog, but I would also direct your attention to http://snipurl.com/241c3dl if you didn’t see it before…

    • So much of it was odd, but I’m not sure who it was aimed at. Cliff does raise questions, but I don’t believe he should be anywhere near Radio 1 just because of music sales, but then I don’t believe Radio 1 much represents the present generation anyway.

      And good call with the weeping angle picture. We all have to point out the ridiculous where we can find it. And thanks for the publicity!

  2. I managed to smugly avoid all of this nonsense. Not least because I live in the North of England and it seemed to have little to do with me. However, your post seems to have sorted out fact from fiction nicely…..I feel like I was there 😉

  3. We watched some of the Jubilee concert and I also thought Rolf was pretty amazing filling in so well without warning. I think it was the only time the entire royal family smiled and happily sang along. When Lenny Henry interrupted him I thought there might be a small scale riot.

    I also loved it when Madness did ‘Our House’ from the roof with the pictures projected onto the walls of Buck House.

    It was certainly a line up no-one else could have arranged for their party wasn’t it, even if some of the participants are a bit past their prime.

    • I have trouble keeping up with where everyone comes from, but I think you’re Australian and so I will say that over here Rolf Harris and Richie Benaud are both very highly thought of. I know Rolf used to split his time between here and there, but he is the thing that childhoods are made of. When I lived in Wales they booked him one year to headline the summer ball (normally the preserve of pop people) and I think he’s the most fondly remembered. Although that wasn’t the year I went…

      The computer projection was good, but Madness was a bit static… Although perhaps you can’t wander across the roof. And it was a very old line-up, but then I’m not sure who it was aimed at… Certainly not the Queen.

      • Madness wasn’t perfect but I appreciated the fact that they were doing something different and incorporating the building into the show.

        I think Rolf is usually taken well because he always seems to be enjoying himself. We see very little of Rolf here in Australia these days, although I notice he is doing the new British Paints ads again, probably the thing he is most well-known for now.

        I guess they were aiming for everyone with the concert line up. Even if you didn’t like that artist soon one would come along more to your taste. I suppose it is the one time that so many people will all be watching the same thing, and for different reasons, they have to entertain old men and young mums and everyone in between, an unenviable task.

  4. A fine summary – I want to know their tax arrangements – all of them!

  5. Pingback: God save the Queen (from nasty werewolves) « Brian of Morbius

  6. Much to my surprise, I really got into the whole bunting Ning, loved the flotilla having been pleased as Punch to happen on The Mall the day before and Robbie was rehearsing. I had to leave the room when Cliff came in; too embarrassing, though I watched Will.i.am and Jessie J in open mouthed astonishment at such lack of talent. Seeing Rolf makes me yearn for a new series of Animal Hospital. I found it very therapeutic and I was dead good at making a diagnosis by the music.

    Now getting nicely in the mood for the Olympics and wondering about more bunting.

    • Of course you were actually there getting wet, but it’ll take a lot to get a lot of us around the country interested in the cash-cow that is the Olympics. I think the athletes promoting tawdry products is a bit sickening.

      And Rolf said he left Animal hospital because they wouldn’t let his on-screen persona learn anything as, after ten years, he was identifying problems he’d seen before and they’d tell him “pretend you don’t know that”.

  7. You have to admit, Grace Jones was great, especially the heartfelt birthday wishes.

  8. You’re bang on about the Bin Laden “parties”. As an American I was ashamed of the reaction.

    On the lighter side, I appreciate your astute Benny Hill/Robbie Williams and Doctor Who comparisons. You’ve got quite an eye. It’s probably the photographer in you.

    • Thanks. I didn’t know if pointing that out would upset/anger people, but it stuck in my mind all this time, and I can only be truthful, or what’s the point? It’s all the “winning hearts and minds” thing that made if feel so unpleasant as you can’t imagine how people further east take those sort of things. And I know that certain unpleasant images stick in the mind of people who take that to be the norm as over here I think we still have the international image for football hooliganism, where nothing like that has happened for a good while, I think.

      • I think the “We’re #1” mentality here sometimes overrules people’s sense of decency. And you’re right, it may be yesterday’s news but in our interconnected world, people don’t forget those images. I blame the bloggers…oh, wait a minute:)

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