Wednesday, 6 June 2012
I felt a painful dichotomy as I watched the Jubilee celebrations, mainly on Sky News.
First, I was proud that that London’s river pageant and the big concert at Buck House were so visually stunning. They provided a powerful showcase for our country that was beamed around the world.
But I also regarded as thoroughly naff the sight of so many adults waving plastic union flags and jumping up and down like excited children. OK, that’s just me. I’m a patriot, but emphatically not a flag-waver.
I thought events on the river proceeded well, and the fact that the Brits didn’t let a bit of cold, rainy weather dampen their spirits was endearing.
I thought the Queen was wise not to sit on the barge’s big red throne as she sailed past all the adoring hoi-polloi. That she and the Duke of Edinburgh stood for the length of the journey added dignity to the proceedings.
And I’m not surprised that the tone of the TV coverage was fawning and banal. It always is for royal events. Sky News covered events better than the BBC, but not much better.
Of course, Sky usually manages to provide better news coverage than the BBC – despite much smaller resources. And the Sky reporters and presenters are much more likeable (perhaps except for Eamonn Holmes) than the grinning ninnies who shovel up politically correct news for the Beeb.
I’m in two minds about the jubilee concert . Yes, it was stunning visually but some of the turns were unappealing – Robbie Williams prancing about the stage like a tit, for instance, and Cliff Richard, looking like mutton dressed as mutton, and doing that embarrassing song which features snatches of the Lord’s Prayer. I love the Lord’s Prayer - but it’s sick and wrong to sample it for a cheesy pop song.
Then there was Paul McCartney, croaking his way through his old hits, just about holding the tunes. Cheryl Cole’s performance, I missed, but I was mightily displeased to see that skanky piece standing right near the Queen on the stage at the end of the gig.
Rob Brydon was funny doing the links, and so was Lee Mack. Lenny Henry wasn’t at all funny (he never is, for my money) and Miranda Hart fell spectacularly flat (it was a big gig, love; you need to rehearse, get your timings right).
It was amusing to see all the stuffed shirts in the royal box trying to dance like “ordinary people”. Think embarrassing dads and uncles at wedding reception discos.
Overall, perhaps it’s only the thinking, cool Brits (such as me!) who will have noticed all the aural and cultural naffness. For most people the jubilee was a chance to have a party and put on a grand show. In that respect, job done!
What mattered was that the celebrations were visually stunning and they went off without a hitch. The Queen, God bless her, has a natural dignity which was allowed to shine through.
London itself was also a star. The city is looking ever more glamorous. I am tempted to move back there.
All the spectacle was captured by TV and gratefully consumed by networks and viewers around the world, which will have boosted our country’s reputation (also good).
And overall it occurs to me that the whole shebang may have encouraged a growing love for the blessed territory we call Britain. At a time when Scottish nationalists are trying to damage the unity of our country, I think the jubilee celebrations will have reminded some Scots of the value of staying in the Great British Family.