The Queen’s funeral in Westminster Abbey reminded me of the film If…. where the pillars of the establishment are gathered together in the school chapel: the Church, the Military, the Aristocracy and the Politicians. The revolutionary denouement of the film has the rebel kids firing a bren gun from the rooftop. Strictly the stuff of movies of course.
But if you’re neither a rabid republican nor mad monarchist, you might have found the Queen’s passing a sad but ultimately onerous affair. Cancelling the football didn’t get us off to a great start. Especially as sports such as rugby and horse racing, were spared. Football is very much a sport of the people; horse racing is known as ‘the sport of kings’.
‘Why are are we so damned deferential?’
It was as if an iron curtain had descended over Britain with a state controlled mass media feeding us an endless 24/7 diet of fawning banality and trivia. We were told the Queen’s death had brought us all together. True maybe, for those who were stuck in The Queue with David Beckham, but otherwise, I suspect most of us just politely put up with the mawkish farrago. Even David Dimbleby, hardly an anti-establishment figure, reflecting on the Queen’s death in an interview with Times newspapers questioned why we as a nation are “so damned deferential towards the monarchy”.
Perhaps it’s the deference to the monarchy Dimbleby refers to that clouds our collective judgement. Because we suspend disbelief when it comes to the royal family, we do the same when it comes to another privileged elite also wrapped up in class, wealth, and history.
One half of the deadly duo who ushered in our ongoing fiscal disaster – the self-congratulatory supremely hubristic ‘Kamikwasi’ Kwarteng – turns out to be an old Etonian. It brought to mind some others who left the country in a mess and moved on: notably messrs Cameron and Johnson. And another one, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has been over-promoted under Liz Truss to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Of Truss’s cabinet, 70 per cent are from public schools, compared to 7 per cent in the population as a whole. Why do we put up with these entitled, arrogant, dysfunctional dickheads? Why do we let them get away with it? Just because they’ve gone into politics and are already very rich, doesn’t mean they’re more principled or less greedy than their friends in the City or the county set they mix with.
Eton threatens our countryside
Rest assured they are single-mindedly dedicated to feathering their own nests and those of their friends and supporters. Never let it be said that an Etonian is anything other than extremely greedy and avaricious and in need of cash. A case in point is Eton College’s ongoing attempt to build 3,000 houses on green fields near East Chiltington in East Sussex.
Eton owns the land and, according to the protest group Don’t urbanise the Downs, stands to trouser around £120m if the development goes ahead. Even Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes, is against it.
The habitat that’s threatened in order to line Etonian pockets really is pure beautiful Sussex. It’s quiet and unspoilt – a patchwork of fields and hedges and country lanes where it’s still possible to lose your bearings. Yes, we urgently need to build homes, but surely better on a brownfield site so that countryside like this can be the kind of place where the people who live in those new homes can come and lose their bearings too.
And on a mellower note
Apropos of the earlier If-riffing, and the general disgruntlement of this month’s diary, and as a thank you for having read this far, please treat yourself to the Telly Savalas 1975 chart-topping rendition of the song If (a picture paints a thousand words).