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Posh March 17, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I can never decide when I stumble across posh England, be that in the flesh (which is rare, being abroad), or on the radio, or when it comes up in something I’m reading, whether I want to go and burn down Buckingham Palace or have a nice slice of Bakewell Tart. I mean, when you are faced with images of Charles and Camilla wandering awkwardly round a Bob Marley museum, should you draw up plans to anthrax Windsor or put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea? There are other options in between, of course, and I suppose I’ve unconsciously been following a third way, neither establishing my very own Republican Party or ever putting on a Union Jack paper hat. I think my sister once thought she was the radicalest person out, maybe even thought, if she didn’t have a family life to get on with, that she could go about bringing down the posh establishment somehow or other until she accidentally ended up getting invited to Buckingham Palace – I think she won the invitation in a Christmas cracker, or it fell out of a packet of Weetabix – and she was bowled over by how lovely it was and, blow me, but didn’t one of those minor princesses even come and engage her maternalistically in some patronising conversation or other. “Tell me, citizen, did you get here by helicopter?”

And it is quite a nice house, Buckingham Palace, and I suppose I don’t majorly agree with destroying things, apart from my internal organs, and I can’t remember if Buckingham Palace – oh god. When the police came to our school when we were 13 to tell us not to do crime, the gent giving the presentation called Buckingham Palace Buck House to be cool. We all snorted with 13-year-old derision. Then John F_ got in terrible trouble for doing an oinking noise – is one of the ones that belongs to us all or whether The Queen actually took a mortgage out and bought it good and honest. And if it is ours, then it’d be wrong to burn down something that’s being upkept with taxpayers’ money. (I’m not sure if that chap who used to sing in The Housemartins had thought of this thorny little problem when he suggested – admittedly, he would, the old softy that he is, have allowed for the building to be evacuated first – that The House of Lords be blown up.)

And it’s an awfully good location. I reckon if The Queen ever decided to move out, some 12-year-old estate agent in a suit would be able to find new tenants for the place in a jiffy. Not too far from public transport. Good parking. Plenty of storage space. The nearest shop’s probably on Trafalgar Square but then so’s the Tube, so not too bad. But the biggest selling point is the garden. Now it turns out my sister didn’t go to Buck House by helicopter, and neither have I ever done so, but she was in the garden. And I have, on my favourite flight ever, flown right over the bastard when, coming in to land in Heathrow one time, the pilot saw it was a gorgeous clear day, that he had a few minutes to spare and took us for a lovely, winding meander along the Thames. London looked predictably awesome. And everything obeyed the rules and was just where you’d expect it to be. The Millennium thingy still there. Tower Bridge standing cathedrally by. All the landmarks out in force. And then there was Buckingham Palace. And, good lord, but what a huge fuck-off garden they have for the centre of London. Get your A-Zs out, Londoners, or pop to Google Earth, unless it’s one of the places that’s been fuzzed out for strategic purposes. Enormous, I tell you.

Anyway, what a lot of people don’t know is that putting The Queen in a big house was all a social experiment before we had reality TV to do this sort of thing for us on a nightly basis. No, there were no free-access freak shows back in the 18th century or whenever it was. But, honest guv, it’s what happened. The authorities were worried about the increase in anti-social behaviour and wondered what they could do to poshen up the riff-raff. You know, seeing if chucking money at the problem really was the answer. Yes, yes, education, training schemes, all that too. But, aesthetically, seeing if taking someone away from their grim surroundings – The Queen was living in a one-bedroom flat on Thamesmead with her Greek husband who had his own minicab business – and giving them a few elocution lessons could transform the lower orders. And, look! It worked a treat. Only it was decided that it would cost too much to put everyone in palaces and then all documentation pertaining to the social experiment was lost in the Great Fire of London and everyone just thought, “Oh, god, they ain’t doin’ any ‘arm, let ’em stay.” Which is how the monarchy was reintroduced.

Anyway, why we’re (the republican we) here is that there’s a similar social experiment happening right here in Ruislip. I have sometimes mentioned, in the course of my public onanism, the 100%-long-term-unemployment house across the street. And, until now, the 100%-long-term-unemployment house had obeyed aesthetic rules and been decidedly run down and grey-looking so that people knew to point and jeer at the house when they walked past. Occasionally we have tourists from Bavaria on a poor-Germany tour and I helpfully stand outside the house with a big arrow so that they know which one to pour scorn on. But the house is being emposhened. “I bet I’m paying for that,” I said to the Russian, but he was out so I quickly e-mailed it to him instead, lest an occasion to moan be lost, and then I dashed to find my tax declaration to wave at the 100%-long-term-unemployment-house unemployed and holler that I hope they were happy, except we do our tax declarations on-line now so I had to go and wave a computer at them, which they must have thought odd.

Still, the house looks gorgeous. I expect it’ll be Hochdeutsch and monocles in no time.


1. Tim Footman - March 17, 2008

I wonder if Buck House has its own septic tank, or whether the Queen’s royal jobbies are allowed to merge unannounced with the hoi polloi, like Audrey Hepburn hanging out with the normals in Roman Holiday (not that Audrey Hepburn was some poo, far from it, but you get my point), yesh, well, anyway, moving swiftly on…

2. pleite - March 17, 2008

Isn’t that such a lovely film? I was livid that Audrey and… dashes to internet… Gregory Peck (can never tell those butch, handsome, American actors of that period apart) couldn’t live happily ever after.

Well, they’re quite remote, for central London, and so perhaps quite far from the rest of the sewage tunnels, so maybe they do have their own system. But surely royals don’t bother with the same bodily functions as the rest of us! Can’t they just have them abolished?

3. emeline - March 17, 2008

I have always thought that France is quite more monarchic than England! The French government has got a lot of ridiculous and expansive rituals – that the French citizens, of course, have to pay through the taxes.

4. ThePenguin - March 17, 2008

The landing run over the centre of London is probably the only attractive thing about Heathrow Airport.

5. d.z.b. - March 17, 2008

The Queen was living in a one-bedroom flat on Thamesmead with her Greek husband who had his own minicab business – and giving them a few elocution lessons could transform the lower orders. And, look! It worked a treat.

Hang on, that’s the plot of “The Queen and I” by Sue Townsend, isn’t it (cue Ohrwurm that goes “I’m madly in love with Pandora” and tv-picture-flashbacks of an old man that isn’t my dad reading the Morning Star).

6. BiB - March 18, 2008

DZ, oh my god, I’ve plagiarised Sue Townsend – I promise I didn’t mean it. Don’t sue, please, Sue – and see, for my next idea, I must try to rip off her Queen Camilla book. I remember Andrew M_ incurring the wrath of Mrs. K_ when he suggested in second year English that we read Adrian Mole as course-work instead of some buggery Shakespeare bollocks.

Penguin, my mother is about to embark upon a move so London will soon be almost famililess for me and I will officially be a boy of the provinces if I ever go to the UK again, which is bound to happen and, actually, it’ll be an excuse to stay with friends, but the one small joy of paying the extra money to fly with a real airline to Heathrow was that it was then only 2 quid on a bus to my mum’s place whereas, as we all know, the trains from London Luton, London Gatwick or London Stansted all cost slightly more than Third World debt.

Emeline, I always found Chirac rather imperatorial but am too old to remember the ins and outs of French ceremonial rituals. In any case, at least there’s still Monaco to provide some royal gossip if the French ever feel the need to dip their toes back into the monarchic waters of their past.

7. d.z.b. - March 18, 2008

Why doesn’t say, Malawi, or Mozambique apply for the contract to run the Heathrow Express? Those short, hassle-filled rides would provide the new alternative to oil-wealth.

8. BiB - March 18, 2008

DZ – wait there, or have you deed polled yourself to d.z.b.? – wasn’t it chez toi that I read about ze Tschermans trying to get their hands on some stretch of British railway track or other? And wouldn’t this then equate, rather than to the trains running on time, to the railway system actually being used for freight only, or something? Anyway, I need to take up trainspotting as IsarSteve keeps reminding me that I am a closet transport-twitcher. In my day, I sometimes used to bus-spot by proxy for Richard W_ and Neil G_ (not one of the Oasis brothers).

9. ThePenguin - March 18, 2008

Wasn’t that my (old) blog? Something about Shropshire Station or something. Or maybe both. I am happily in Japan where the trains run like trains should do, and when they don’t train company people swarm out from nowhere to sort everything out.

10. BiB - March 18, 2008

Penguin, may well have been. Can one whittle down Google’s blogsearch to zoom through just the blogs of one’s acquaintance? By telepathy, say? If not, then I say the world’s not as advanced as we think it is.

11. d.z. - March 18, 2008

Yes, the Germans have bought half of “London Overground”, which in your day was probably just the North London Link/Line/whatever. I probably mentioned that they would turn half of the track into a slim, yet long and orbital shopping centre.

12. BiB - March 18, 2008

d.z., yep, some of those lines and stations played a very important role in my transport CV. Queens Park galore galore (though as much for the tube as that Euston line). Brondesbury Park galore (the quietest station in the world, thought it was near that Cat Stevens Islamic school so you’d get a rush of beheadscarved girls at 3pm). Crouch Hill, though that line had one train a year. Thank god we only have to wait till 2010 for it to subsume the East London line.

13. Mr D - March 18, 2008

You can do a localised search of a blog. For instance, in Google you could write:

site:pleite.wordpress.com engelsk


site:pleite.wordpress.com “mr d”

And then you’ll find all my comments!

14. wyndham - March 19, 2008

My ex-wife was obsessed by Roman Holiday. That’s all I have to say.

15. IsarSteve - March 19, 2008

Crouch Hill… that’s on the GOBLIN line… was originally (1868) the Tottenham & Hampstead Junction Railway… sounds much classier than GOBLIN doesn’t it?

So you are really a crank…? BTW that’s what they call themselves in England..
Most Cranks The majority of Enthusisasts seem to be from the “Anderes Ufer” . I think Freud also wrote about people being gay and a train-spotters– something to do with insecurity and tracks..

I do think London Overground do have nice Orange Signage.. and they also have manned personed stations

Oh dear.. I’m rambling..

16. BiB - March 19, 2008

Isar, a faux crank or wannabe crank. Although actually I think I just like the maps. The actual conveyances don’t interest me, though I can swoon at a handsomely well-kept train or tram. And perhaps it’s all tied up with keeping up with London and seeing how the place changes. I think my only equivalent quiver of glee here was when the gap in the Ringbahn was filled in.

Wynders, seeing herself as Princess Audrey and you as the unhaveable Gregory Peck? Although you were haveable, if you were her husband. But maybe she wanted things to be more complicated between you and when they couldn’t be – or is either of you royalty? – she saw there was no future. Was it something along those lines? The Russian and I have married across a divide too. I understand Aud and Greg’s pain.

Mr D, I thought I knew all the tricks in the book, but I don’t know any of them. I shall play with that function at some point and then do an in-depth comparative survey of everyone’s comments ever. Maybe.

17. Mr D - March 21, 2008

You can also do link:pleite.wordpress.com to see who links to you.

I’ve just got in from a whole evening on Apfelscholle, surrounded by people drinking beer! I managed it. Smoked like a chimney, mind (we only went to bars with smoking sections), but staying completely sober was quite a feat. I aim to last until the end of the month, and then to stop smoking. I’ll start nursing glasses of white wine at that time. Not that any of that is connected to your post, but I just thought I’d chat while I was here, rather than simply leave a geeky tip!

18. BiB - March 21, 2008

Mr D, conversation can take any lovely tangent it likes.

When I have a bender these days, I invariably wake up the next day, or have dreamt, panickily that I have smoked. And, unless I’ve really managed oblivion, which I never have, and I’ve clean forgotten, I don’t think I have ever smoked. It’s now more than five months since I had a fag and, while I miss them galore, and think it would just be so lovely to have smoke curlily billowing from my mouth this second, it’s been easy enough to stop. It sounds so wank to say it, but you have to convince yourself, I think, that you’re ready or willing to stop. Make yourself believe it, even if it’s not true. Put all your being into telling yourself you are the wickedest person in the world for not stopping, if you want to stop, and then you’ll stop. I think. That’s how I’ve been doing it. Mind you, I’m not convinced I’ll never smoke another cigarette ever again. But I’ll be livid if I do. Unless, and this is my get-out clause, I’m told I’ve got a fatal disease, in which case I’ll buy a delicious packet of red Gauloises the very same minute.

Due to workiness, I haven’t been able to booze either of late. Yesterday the Russian cracked open a bottle of red and I was falling asleep as I held the first glass in front of me. It knocked me out.

I’ll be joining a gym next.

19. d.z.b. - March 21, 2008

If you don’t want to smoke ever again, buy a packet of Roth-Händle and keep them with you at all times. No amount of drunkenness will convince you to actually light one.

20. BiB - March 21, 2008

Or, alternatively, Mr D, buy a packet of Ducados, though you may have to go to Spain to do so and I have no idea if they still exist. I smoked them as an impoverished 17-year-old and they were utterly foul. They stink of actual shit.

21. Mr D - March 21, 2008

I have to remove the drinking first as that’s my main cue/trigger. I’m not keen on the self-loathing technique as I’m sure I’d simply rebel against it. Instead I have to turn it into a whole empowerment issue. But anyway, stopping starts mid-week, after I play badminton for the first time for almost twenty years. I’m looking forward to that.

22. BiB - March 22, 2008

Are you going on a double-whammy no-drinking-or-smoking binge? Bloody hell. What, for, like, ever? (What a high word-to-comma ratio.) I did pretend a few weeks ago that a new me had been born and that I’d give up drinking too. I even thought I’d succeed, what with the non-smoking having been such a success. But I think I’d just find life TOO miserable if I couldn’t even have some booze-pleasure. Mind you, my ex has pretty much given up everything (OK, booze) as it was affecting his health and the plusses have more than made up for the minuses so, I suppose, hurrah. (Muted, though.)

23. Mr D - March 22, 2008

Shall return to drinking in April, but probably wine, as all these beer binges have been increasing my gut. After consulting some weight:height scale, I think I could do with being up to a third less of who I am, which is shocking. Not that I look quite so flabby, but perhaps I hide it through a cunning use of clothes!

Having only six fags left, I think I’ll be stopping tomorrow. I have six old patches left from a previous attempt. I’ll use them, and then carry on cold turkey after that. (It all sounds so easy in the planning stage!)

Have almost finished sorting out the room from hell. Should have a blog-resurrection tomorrow.

24. BiB - March 23, 2008

Mr D, very happy to see that you have indeed had a resurrection. What brilliant timing. In any case, all the best with your clean-living quest. I shoud join you on it.

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