I don’t want to be a wet blanket, I really don’t. But somehow I can’t help myself. This summer seems to be filled with events that I have no interest in, but which will fill the TV and radio schedules and everyone’s conversation, and will be impossible to escape from. Bah humbug.
It started with last weekend’s Jubilee celebrations. I’m not a monarchist or a republican: I’m more or less indifferent to the Royal Family. I was certainly very happy to get an extra Bank Holiday (a whole four days off in a row!), but other than that, I wasn’t very interested in all the ‘big events’ that were planned. We don’t live in the kind of street that goes in for street parties, unless by ‘street party’ you mean some very drunk people yelling “‘it ‘im Gazza!” outside our window at 3am, followed by ceremonial lobbing of empty Special Brew cans into front gardens along the street. The only event that I thought looked as if it might be interesting was the River Pageant. I like boats, particularly historic boats, and there were supposed to be orchestras and bands, and even a belfry boat. It looked fun, and I thought I might learn something, so I started watching the BBC’s coverage.
If you’re in the UK, you’ll know that the Beeb got a lot of flack over their coverage of the whole weekend, but particularly the River Pageant. I usually stick up for the BBC reflexively, but I have to agree that it was pretty dire. I think what I was hoping for was some really geeky punditry from knowledgeable commentators. I would have liked to have heard about the original 18th Century designs on which the ‘Gloriana’ was based. It would have been interesting to learn more about the origins of the bells on the belfry boat, or even just hear the peal properly. Apparently, the churches lining the route were going to ring their bells in answer to the belfry boat as it passed by, which would have been wonderful, had the BBC actually captured it properly. There were several musical boats that we never heard from, and no-one gave any information (or even properly showed) the Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’ that were part of the pageant. How do Fireboats work? Where did they and their crews come from? We were none the wiser.
I know that not everyone would have appreciated a geeky commentary1, but it was supposed to be (so we were told repeatedly) an historic occasion, so why did we get so little history? I think it’s nice to talk to people involved in these things but when you ask celebrities and ‘ordinary’ people alike taking part in this sort of thing “How do you feel?”, what you get is some variation on “I’m just so excited/honoured/thrilled to be here”, which gets a bit dull after a while.
So much for the Jubilee. Jubilee-Schmubilee. Now we’re headlong into some football thing that I care even less about, and after that it will be wall-to-wall sport for the Olympics. If the weather wasn’t acting as if it was February, I could go for long walks and enjoy the peace and quiet with everyone else glued to the telly, but the downpours and cold weather are not enticing. It’s a good job I’ve got lots of books lined up to read. I hope that some of you are enjoying all the events this summer. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to grumble quietly to myself in a corner.
- Before anyone says it, no, I don’t expect the world to revolve around my own - rather niche - interests. It’s just that the stuff that doesn’t interest me is so inescapable at the moment. ↩