Friday, June 10, 2011

duke, duke, duke, duke of ed, ed, ed

Apparently it's Unearned Privilege Week here in the UK. It's also National Food Safety Week and Naked Bike Ride Week (not particularly SFW, as you might imagine), but those (interesting as they are, particularly the nude cycling) are not my concern right here and now.

Firstly, Rowan Williams, the cuddly old bushy-eyebrowed Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and possible closet atheist, has been getting himself into trouble this week by having a pop at the government in a leading article in the New Statesman (which he was guest editing at the time). Strip away all the religious flim-flam and bafflegab and the core message happens to be one I broadly agree with - the government's talk about localism, empowerment and the Big Society is just a laughably transparent smokescreen for massive spending cuts and the usual Tory policy of ruthlessly fucking the poor and underprivileged and basically anyone who didn't go to Eton and hasn't got a moat. On the other hand, I don't really see why the Archbish gets a platform to put forward his political views, however sensible they might be in this particular instance, just because he might believe in some sort of imaginary Jewish space zombie.

Amusing too to see Tony Blair's response when questioned about it during his appearance on the Today programme the other day:
"The Government will say that they're very relaxed about it and get on with whatever they want to do."
It was, as I recall anyway, the 1997-onward New Labour government who coined the usage of "relaxed" in this context, along with, even more annoyingly, the now-ubiquitous "passionate", so he should know. In any case, I guess the old adage about the Church of England being "the Tory party at prayer" may not apply any more.

Secondly, you surely won't have failed to notice that it's the Duke of Edinburgh's 90th birthday this week. To commemorate this, the irascible old codger granted an interview to the BBC, in the person of hard-hitting interviewer and 2010 Rear Of The Year winner Fiona Bruce. Now you might have thought that Fiona would give him an easy ride, but let me tell you.....wait, no, you'd have been absolutely right, not entirely surprisingly. Even provided with a series of pathetically easy lobs to put away, though, the Duke managed to be a pretty surly, unhelpful and generally charmless interviewee who clearly regarded the whole thing as a dreadful imposition.

Actually the Duke of Edinburgh is a pretty prime example of how absurd feudal traditions like monarchy are corrosive and harmful to everyone, not just us poor downtrodden subjects but those who, by accident of birth, end up on the other side of the fence as well. A reasonably successful naval officer during the Second World War, as soon as he got married to the heir to the British throne he was faced with having to give up his chosen career and basically contemplate the prospect of 50+ years of enforced idleness as the monarch's consort, traipsing round the world two steps behind the Queen meeting tongue-tied dignitaries and pretending to be interested in stuff. No wonder he dropped the ball a few times.

This was just one of the subjects that didn't really get an airing, though, along with the Duke's strained relationship with his eldest son, and, of course, whether or not he had Princess Diana rubbed out.

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