On Coronation Nation.

I shall, I must confess, be watching some coronation stuff this weekend. I won’t watch all of it, because it’s true what they say when they say that life is too short, and because on a deep level I couldn’t really care less. But I won’t watch none of it because it is a rather big event and I can’t help feeling that I might kick myself if I ignore the whole lot and do what I normally do at the weekend, which is contemplate my own mortality through the bottom of a wine glass. I keep hearing people say that for many this the first British coronation they have ever had the chance to witness but that shouldn’t be the sole motivation to tune in, any more than saying it’s the first time they’ve been bitten by a mamba or come down with a spot of dementia. All that aside the coronation weekend will be a curious mix of spectacular, patriotic, indulgent, silly, tedious and fucking dreadful; with a particular emphasis, I expect, on the last two. But don’t let that put you off: here’s my guide to a few of the undoubted highlights, if that’s the best way to describe them.

  1. The weekend kicks off tonight with news broadcasters around the country explaining exactly what to look for in the coming three days. They will do this in a slow, patronising manner, as if trying to explain how a fridge door works to a mentally ill chimpanzee. They will do this many, many times and it may be worth emphasizing that most of what we see will be repeated for the rest of time. The programmes will also feature interviews with a collection of monarchist tits who plan to spend the night sleeping near some vantage point or another so that viewers at home can keep an eye out for them tomorrow morning, being soaked in rain and crushed up against a railing, waving a cheap plastic flag. All day long.
  2. By the morning the National Grid will have bought in a few extra generators to cope with a possible power surge as houses across the nation attempt to watch a day of coronation events and their usual sporting Saturday simultaneously, on two 70 inch, HD flat screen TVs. The BBC will be beside itself with excitement, with Clive Myrie, Nicholas Witchell and Huw Edwards engaging in several bouts of group masturbation just to relieve the tension. They will explain what people are going to see before it happens, what people are seeing as it happens and what people saw after it happens. At some point they will end up locked in a repetitious loop, offering up absolutely no new information, which they will only be snapped out of for a brief weather report or to hear how the nation is celebrating, er, around the nation.
  3. Once the coronation and ensuing procession have taken place we will be treated to a sustained, brutal exercise in rehashing the events of a very recent past. For the BBC at least there will be next to nothing else on for the rest of the day except everything anyone who wanted to see it in the first place has already seen. By the time this has finished washing over us King Charles III will be tucked up safely in bed, shouting at a series of leaky pens, with Queen Camilla next to him, chain smoking and saying her prayers in a new, fresh and very modern multi-faith manner.
  4. Saturday was taking care of the family business, but Sunday is meant to be Funday. Provided you contacted your council months ago you will be able to close off your road and party on down with the neighbours you never speak to due to a long running dispute over parking or a boundary fence. Ever since the day was announced amateur chefs have been tied to their stoves working on all sorts of foul sounding Coronation related dishes to honour the occasion, and these will be washed down with huge volumes of supermarket discount booze, which will then further fuel whatever underlying animosity exists until it all escalates into a nationwide eruption of mini riots.
  5. The coronation concert will be one of the bleakest moments in British history. Amazingly, it will have an even worse line than the Platinum Jubilee Concert, which was like floating through a musical sewer. It appears that very few people of talent have agreed to play for the king and that those of talent aren’t really all that talented either, let alone credible. Take That might be fine but they’re hardly Led Zeppelin. Fuck, they’re not even ABBA. Katy Perry may be candy but is her take on music fit for a coronation? Lionel Ritchie is safe but very, very dull. That’s the three announced headliners and only one is British. You can work that out on your own. The rest is blind opera singers and some godawful choir that has been assembled by the human mosquito we know as Gareth Malone. His task has been to scour the country and find as many hilariously inclusive, box-ticking singing groups as possible so that our collective political correctness doesn’t have a meltdown. There is a gay Brighton choir and a Welsh migrant choir and an Irish farmer choir and a Basingstoke Filipino choir and an NHS choir and Yorkshire’s first all-female South Asian choir and an all-deaf sign language choir and a London cabbie choir and, of course, the Pink Singers; the longest-running LGBT choir in Europe. I’m not for a minute saying they won’t make some kind of noise together but the whole thing will make me rather feel like weeping into my fourteenth large drink of the day. And worse still, this thick, sticky tuneless jam of indifference will be served to us by Zoe Balls and Dermot O’Dreary (a fucking apocalyptic pairing if ever there was one) and as a overall experience will sound about as welcome as death ringing the doorbell.
  6. Anyone who is still alive by Monday has the pleasure of getting involved in the community by helping people who are beyond helping, trying to help people who’d rather not be helped or going out of their way for people who don’t deserve help. The news will feature footage of assorted royals that aren’t Prince Andrew holding hands with sick children or feeding gravy to ancient men in wheelchairs.

By this point Britain will have ventured far beyond the limits of coronation saturation and suddenly Tuesday will seem like a silver lining to a cloud that hovered for more than a touch to long. Before much longer than that it will all be forgotten and then one day Charles III will take to his bed for the last time and we’ll start all over again. There is a comfort, a strange, almost imperceptible comfort to still having a royal family. It gives us an extra excuse for being a bit crap and allows us to still be judged on our history rather than simply results. So, I’ll watch some and skip some and before I know it I’ll be back at work and waiting for the rain to stop. I had planned to write a masterpiece for the king, but I’ve ended up doing this instead; it was cheaper and quicker than what he’ll be up to and it won’t occupy anyone’s time. Unless you got this far, in which case more fool you.

G B Hewitt. 05.05.2023

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