Friday, September 16, 2022

Two days to go

 Random thoughts while watching the lying-in-state at the BBC website:

I'd concluded that there was a creepy quasi-fascistic aspect to all the official mourning.  People arrested for dissenting opinions in the street, while columnists could write what they liked about the new king, monarchy in general, the Commonwealth, etc.  One woman was hauled off for holding up a blank sheet of paper, like that newsreader on Russian television last winter -- unsettling in a democracy.  Hospitals cancelling appointments on Monday, food banks closed, ordinary people's funerals postponed -- what the hell is this?  The NHS is so shaky, people have to wait months to see a dentist or psychiatrist and are now being sent to the end of the queue.  I can't believe the queen wanted this.

But the queue.  The one to see the coffin, six miles long -- no one can force people to join it or to wait up to twenty-four hours in it.  I saw things that moved even my cynical old heart.  A woman in a wheelchair blowing a kiss.  The lady in the Union Jack sari.  People with guide dogs.  David Beckham standing in line like a regular bloke.  Much bowing and curtsying.  The crying of babies cutting through the respectful murmuring.  People formally dressed and people in hoodies, all ages, all races.  (I love the periodic changing of the guard, like the most splendid production of The Yeomen of the Guard ever staged.)  Women in headscarves.  Men with military decorations.

What I don't see are phones, those ubiquitous indicators that say "Something is happening before my eyes, better take a picture so I can look at it later."  Maybe they've been told to put them away.  Or maybe this is a quasi-religious experience.  People pass the bier and then look back for a final glimpse.  This may be the last time in history nobody grabs for the Android.

They are saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II.  And perhaps to monarchy itself?  



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