Posh March 17, 2008Posted 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.