In a couple of weeks’ time this great nation will be reaching out to tickle new heights of national pride and glory. It can reach all it wants but it won’t get anywhere like that far. As things currently stand this great nation is exhausted, up on bricks, fever dreaming and using both hands and feet to count all the cancers that have brought it to its knees. Come jubilee week there really won’t be an awful lot to celebrate except perhaps that most of us are still alive, whether we deserve to be or not. Rule Britannia has never seemed so inappropriate, or been such an obvious joke. Even the Queen has kind of given up; given up to the extent that she just uses the term ‘mobility issues’ to do whatever she pleases, even skipping the yawnucopia of opening Parliament to save up enough energy to have a flutter at the Royal Windsor Horse Show instead. Quite right. And of all the people that need to be alive and, ideally, awake two weeks from now it must surely be the Queen, because heaven only knows what will happen to Britain if she goes and dies before her party kicks off in earnest.
And what a party it promises to be; you can’t keep a 96-year-old alert with any old crap, instead you need to select only the absolute crappiest platinum coated crap that the wonderful world of crap can offer. I mean, it isn’t every day that you get to celebrate this kind of thing. There will be many thousands of people out there who must be delighted to have been invited to join the celebrations, live, at Buckingham Palace, and there will be countless millions more who will tune in to watch it on TV (I will be one of those, but I will only do so to pour scorn on every single element of the proceedings, and to congratulate myself for having correctly predicted what a dreadful, tasteless, artless, brainless hurricane of warm lettuce it will turn out to be). From the second it starts, as Brian May bursts out of Elizabeth’s knicker draw, dressed as an angry badger, frantically weaving together a medley of toss on his guitar, to the second it ends with the dying of the last firework and a huge lake of patriotic, empty tears, this will easily be the worst cultural thing that happens to anyone, anywhere this year. Sorry, I just thought I’d warn you in advance, let you know what to expect.
Well, for a start there is Diana Ross, the most overrated soul singer of all time. In fact, she’s not really a soul singer at all and quite how she became such an enduring icon is the source of some bafflement to me. In truth she is no more of a soul singer than Martine McCutcheon and, worse, is probably not as nice a person either. Still, she has a substantial following, and one assumes that her presence as a headline act is down to the Queen being a huge fan. Ms Ross says they’ve met many times, always a hoot, no doubt. The Queen must also surely be a big fan of Queen. It makes perfect sense really, because if your taste in music is so bland that you rate Diana Ross that highly then liking Queen is just pulling on the same thread until you reach a logical conclusion. Of course, Queen aren’t Queen anymore, but instead are just the drummer and guitarist and some chap called Adam Lambert: half the band they used to be and twice as third rate. I’m hoping that Brian May will deliver on his promise to do something even more spectacular than he did the last time, which was, gasp, playing on a roof. I’m hoping that this time he’ll drop down from a helicopter on a faulty bungee rope or be fired out of a cannon and straight through Prince Andrew’s closed bedroom window. It’s exactly the kind of spectacle we need to offset our cost-of-living woes. Oh, and the war in Ukraine.
I am genuinely sad to say that much as I find myself permanently underwhelmed by anything to do with half of Queen + Adam Lambert they may well prove to be something of a flaccid highlight after all. And that’s because the other ‘highlights’ are about as promising as a damp box of matches in a gale. Where else could you go to enjoy Craig David and George Ezra, almost at the same time? Or could truly celebrate the best of British with Andrea Bocelli and Alicia Keys? Sam Ryder will be asking us to join him in the afterglow of his towering achievement in coming second at Eurovision. Alongside him will be some of the other artists that The Queen has not enjoyed playing on her gramophone for decades, including Ella Eyre, Jax Jones and Sigala (I have no idea either). And in case she wants to be reminded of the power of true love there’ll be Sir Rod Stewart asking, quite simply, if she still likes his body and if she still thinks he’s sexy, after all these years. I trust she’ll let him know. For anyone who prefers an even more execrable sort of music, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lin-Manuel Miranda will be on hand to pass round the sick bucket with a bespoke collection of dross from their assorted musicals – a kind of audio-visual worst of the least good of the grimmest imaginable.
And if your ears and eyes aren’t already bleeding profusely by this point you can rely on plenty of other celebrities to pop up for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Surely a platinum jubilee just wouldn’t be a platinum jubilee without the wit and wisdom of Stephen Fry, David Beckham and, er, Emma Raducanu. Sir David Attenborough will also make some sort of appearance, during which he will hijack proceedings by talking about global temperatures and plastic-stuffed seahorses, whilst a gang of chattering chimpanzees set out on an orgy of violence against the camera crew in the background. Meanwhile, the super restless can be rest assured that it won’t all be one big ego-stroking exercise and that there will doubtless be an intermittent yet very earnest doffing of caps at the continuing endeavours of the armed forces, the NHS, care workers, anyone who’s been jabbed three times, all members of the royal family that aren’t paedophiles, the volunteer workforce, lots of charities, all members of the royal family that haven’t fucked off to California to talk a new language of shit for a living, the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers, people with disabilities, members of various ‘communities’, stray dogs, window cleaners, horses and, inevitably, Sir Elton John. And if Elton’s in the mix, then don’t be surprised if Ed Sheeran turns up at some point too. And probably Sir Paul McCartney as well, who will be legally obliged to sing ‘Her Majesty’, at the very same moment I begin to die inside.
To enjoy all that froth and toxin in comfort we’ve been handed a four-day weekend. Some of Britain will be glued to the sofa, some will spend the whole lot getting proper drunk and the rest will just carry on with their lives, safe in the knowledge that none of it really matters at all. I expect I’ll be doing all three, though not necessarily at the same time. I’m pleased for the Queen. I’m pleased she’s much older than I’ll ever live to be and that she is starting to get her priorities, if not her house, in order. But as her reign comes to an end (let’s be honest here) it’s worth remembering that she now serves not particularly as the vague asset she once was but more as a cantankerous buffer for all the badness that we’ll have to put up with after she’s gone. All these celebrations, which years ago might have seemed vaguely appropriate, are little more than a huge waste of tax-payers money, not to mention their time as well. But hey, it’s not my party, so who cares? If the Queen wants to be told by her trusted advisors that the best way to recognize her seventy remarkable years on the throne is to have Diana Ross murdering ‘I’m Coming Out’, as Brian May drops onto the stage with a sickening thud, his limp corpse tangled up in a suspiciously severed bungee rope, then so be it. On the whole I think if it was my platinum jubilee I’d be hoping for a headline appearance from death himself. Actually, I’d have him* come on first.
G B Hewitt. 20.05.2022
*This assumes death is still officially male. I’m struggling to keep up.