Monday, 4 June 2012

As Much of the Jubilee as I can Manage

It's all very well, this Jubilee business, but while not a republican I've never been that much of a monarchist either. At the Family Service on Sunday I spoke about everyone being kings and queens in God's eyes, and played a game with the children involving trying on different sized crowns which I'd knocked up the day before. I started to cut out fleur-de-lys shaped prongs for the crowns before realising I'd be there for several days and so they got triangles instead. I'd made most of the crowns far too small. 'I never realised children had such big heads', I complained afterwards. 'You've clearly never given birth' commented one of the mums.

And that would have been the only Jubilee-related thing I did, had I not had a last-minute invitation to the Overingly street party. Overingly is a tiny village on the estate of a local stately home, complete with its own church built by the landowners because the parish they officially belonged to was too High-Church for their tastes. I led the Christmas service in the church (ironically - I took great delight wearing my biretta) and so was invited to the party. It was lovely, marquees set up at the house next to the church, a band playing the pop tracks everyone can remember, a hog roast, pony rides, and lots and lots of people, teenagers, children, babies. I hadn't wanted to go after the evening mass at Swanvale Halt, but was very glad I did. In the church itself, not far from a table laden with strawberries and cream, was a little exhibition of memorabilia about the history of Overingly, maps, documents, photographs, relics from the wartime Home Guard and things dug up from the fields.

Her Maj the Q. didn't feature very heavily; she was there in the form of the odd photo and a photocopied sheet of songs on a couple of the tables - Land of Hope and Glory and so on - but that was it. What this was, mostly, was less a celebration of her than of a community seeing itself and its own history reflected in her role over the last 60 years. In a way this couldn't have happened at any time before now: the monarchy has become, or is striving to become, ordinary, and so is less a sign of contradiction than a sign of who we are too. That, I think, is what people have been celebrating.

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