Thursday, 31 May 2012

Everybody – wave your flags and feel united!

There are Union Jack flags everywhere: on products sold in Ikea, Marks and Spencer, Poundland, Waitrose, House of Fraser... every shop has something to offer. Shop awnings, street furniture, my front room... all are festooned with the red, white and blue.

trangely, my Victorian home looks even older with the small doubled row of bunting that is tied to the top of the window (safe from little hands). It feels more, er, Victorian... OK, so I know we are about to celebrate an Elizabethan event (followed by the European football and London Olympics), but the flag flying so freely feels like something has been reeled in from the past. I suppose part of the reason is that the Union Jack was hijacked so successfully by nationalists and racists not so many years ago; yes, it is good to see it being flown for the right reasons again (though there are obviously still pockets where it is flown for dubious significance).

I'm not a royalist and I'm not a republican but I am quite patriotic. I remember the 1977 Silver Jubilee (yes, I am that old) – I was an excited schoolgirl at the time and I had a commemorative mug and everything. Perhaps we did have all the other paraphernalia around then, too. L says 'Jubilee!' every time she sees a Union Jack, and she is thrilled that 'we are going to the Jubilee'. She knows it is all to do with the Queen, and wants to wear a crown herself. 

There are hundreds of celebratory events on locally this coming weekend – parties, picnics, street events, concerts and private functions in people's homes. There is, of course, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, which will involve more than 1,000 boats traversing London's beautiful and powerful river. I don't know about L, but I am ridiculously eager to witness it. This old winding river, around which this massive, diverse, intense, green, strong, characterful, inspiring, cultured city has grown, is surely a fitting focus for the Diamond Jubilee. Of course, living a five minute walk away from its leafy banks (and having worked and socialised near it for many years in the past) may have something to do with my love for the Thames. Let's raise a glass of Pimm's, dispense with any cynicism, and wholeheartedly enjoy!

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