Tag Archives: Queen

Who do we want as Queen of the UK? Elizabeth II or President William Haig?

…or we could have Tony Blair’s head

(A version of this blog was also published by the Indian news website WeSpeakNews)

I saw some Republican demonstrators interviewed on TV during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. One of their startling opening gambits to explain their position was: “The Parliament at Westminster has too much power.”

And they were arguing in favour of more politicians!

People often mis-read my political views. One example is that I am a very strong supporter of the monarchy.

Writing this blog I am on a hiding to nothing because, as long as it is, it does not give me enough space.

But, at school, I studied British Constitution for ‘A’ Level. The result is that I am a very strong supporter of the institution of a constitutional monarchy, but I have absolutely no interest at all in the soap opera of the Royal Family. I also think Tony Blair, as Prime Minister, was a neo-Fascistic prat who seriously damaged Britain’s constitutional set-up, but that is another matter.

When people say, “Oh, we should elect the Head of State,” I think, “Jesus! Are you out of your mind? Do you realise you are arguing that what we need is more scumbag politicians?”

Britain has stumbled into a State where we have a Head of State with lots of theoretical power and no practical power.

Bloody great!

The Queen does not actually make the important appointments, does not make laws, cannot in practice prevent laws from being passed by Parliament and has no actual practical constitutional power. But she is the ultimate safeguard against dictatorship and tyranny.

If a mad Prime Minister and/or a truly extremist government got into power and started passing laws which the vast majority of people then found repulsive – the example always used at school was a law that all red-headed men should be executed – what would happen? They could not be voted out by the electorate until the next General Election: perhaps four years away.

The only certain way to actually overthrow a government effectively anywhere (beyond the uncertainties of civil war) is for the government’s Army to overthrow it and you then have a situation where the Army is the government and has to appoint one of its own as Head of State.

In Britain, the Army is not the government’s Army; it is, in theory, the monarch’s Army. As is the Air Force, the Navy, the Police and the Civil Service.

The Prime Minister is not the Head of State. He/she is not even the head of the government. In theory. the Prime Minister is just that – primus inter pares – first among equals – only one of the monarch’s many ministers.

The result of this is that, if the Army overthrew an out-of-control government, it would do so in the name of the on-going monarchy and would not have to name one of its own officers as temporary Head of State. That sounds an unimportant distinction. But it would be re-asserting the monarch’s supremacy from a Prime Minister who had temporarily taken control, not overthrowing its own head. That makes it much easier to re-establish a new civilian government.

And this is not necessarily a theoretical point.

It would be interesting to have seen what would have happened if the rumoured plan for a military coup in the UK in 1975 had actually happened. But, returning to the subject…

The myth about the monarchy is that it is somehow costly.

Compared to what?

Compared to a President?

Bollocks.

The Queen receives no actual salary; the monarch’s costs are paid. Does anyone believe the same or higher expenses would be not incurred by a President? Plus some inflated annual salary and pension. All those flash state meals, all those flash ceremonials. They would still happen. Their costs would still happen. And, if there were no Diamond Jubilee, there would (quite reasonably) be some other State mega shindigs to bolster the patriotic spirit (but with less glitz and glamour because a politician in a suit would be at the centre of it).

Then there is the extended Royal Family – for which the taxpayer does not pay salaries. In effect, we get the Queen and a collection of subsidiary clones who trundle round the country as representatives. The London TV news last night carried pictures of Princess Alexandra (currently 40th in line to the throne and she’s free) at some street party.

So what’s the alternative?

Another morally-compromised politician.

By definition, anyone running to get public votes to be a temporary President will be a politician.

Un-enthusiastic voters would shamble out to decide whether they prefer to have President Tony Blair or President William Haig or President Edwina Currie for 4 years, at the end of which time some other lacklustre or tired or up-his-own-arse former, failed or self-important politician would get to extend their money-making life for a few more years.

And then you have the continuity which you do not get from an elected Head of State. The Queen has 60 years knowledge of the innermost workings of Britain. This is not insignificant.

She knows not what people think happened but what actually happened behind-the-scenes in the UK for the whole of the last 60 years – and why. She read the same red boxes her Prime Ministers did for the last 60 years. She – and, indeed, Prince Charles – know more about the inner workings of Britain than any temporary Prime Minister does. More than members of the Cabinet, more than MPs, more than current top civil servants. The top civil servants may have been civil servants for years, but they only hold the top posts – with real knowledge of what is happening – for a few years.

What you get from a continuing monarchy above and beyond the political system is continuity.

Who wants another politician in another now political role for another four years and what is he/she going to do anyway? Fight with Parliament? Counter-balance or emasculate the Prime Minister? Or do nothing and just go to meals with people wearing a suit and with a background of political back-stabbing over several years?

What improvement on the current system would an elected Head of State make?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

When the very young 18-year-old Queen Victoria ascended the throne, she was mentored by Lord Melbourne. When the 26-year-old Queen Elizabeth II unexpectedly ascended the throne on the death of her father who had, himself, unexpectedly become King, Winston Churchill mentored her with knowledge going back beyond the First World War. But those politicians soon faded away. Their knowledge, though, continued through the monarch and continued to be built-on.

At the end of the movie Blade Runner, Rutger Hauer’s character, at the point of death, says:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

The same thing happens when politicians and civil servants leave office. They leave the papers behind. But, when another similar emergency situation suddenly arises without warning, who knows where to really find out how it was handled before?

As I said, I saw some Republican demonstrators interviewed during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. One of their startling opening gambits to explain their position was: “The Parliament at Westminster has too much power.”

I am not sure I agree with that, but it is certainly no argument for replacing the monarchy.

Do we really want ANOTHER up-his-or-her-own-arse elected politician?

Do we really want President Tony Blair or President William Haig or President Simon Cowell?

No, we want a theoretical Head of State separated from the sleaze of the Westminster sewer.

We want what we have: a Head of State with no practical powers and major theoretical powers which are a safeguard against political tyranny and a family which has (whether wanker Republicans like it or not) widespread public respect and continuity of knowledge.

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A glimpse back ten years ago to Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland’s Golden Jubilee

Concorde flypast of Buckingham Palace on 4th June 2002

In those less cyberspaced days before I blogged, I occasionally kept notes in diaries. These are extracts from 2002, when Queen Elizabeth II (or, if you are being very Scottish, Queen Elizabeth I) was celebrating her Golden Jubilee.

Saturday 1st June 2002

I went to see comedian Charlie Chuck at home in Leicestershire. In the local pub in the evening, there was a noisy disco – people wearing St George’s flag clothes amid Union Flag bunting.

Sunday 2nd June 2002

Actor Mike Wattam told me that, in the Vietnam War, the Vietcong hung prisoners upside down with bags on their heads. The bags had rats inside. The prisoners’ blood rushed to their heads. The frightened and hungry rats ate the prisoners’ faces.

On my way home, I drove through a street party in Radlett, Hertfordshire. Union flags and St George’s flags flying, bunting, trestle tables with food, lots of children excited at a licence to do pretty much whatever they wanted.

Monday 3rd June 2002

Extracts from an Instant Message with a friend in Washington DC:

Her: I met a twat hack from the Washington Post last night. Complete arrogant tosser.

Me: You have a way with words. What was wrong with him?

Her: I told him : “At least you’re consistent, as all the bars and restaurants you recommend tend to be crap.”

Me: Bunting, St George’s flags and Union flags aplenty here.

Her: He told me: “Oh, I only recommend places that I think readers will like, not places I like.”  Critics don’t do that!  It’s egocentric that brand of journalism.

Me: It’s normal!

Her: Really?

Me: Like TV producers looking down on punters and making programmes they wouldn’t themselves watch.

Her: So film critics don’t recommend movies they like, but that they think other people will like?

Me: I think tabloid journos probably do that.

Her: Well I still think it’s wrong.  He recommends very expensive very bland places where he gets free drinks.

Me: It is wrong

Her: The place I went to last night he said was the most disgusting skanky place in DC. It’s actually a really nice private house with eclectic decorations (you would love it), full of interesting people. But he is so goddamn arrogant because people in DC cannot go out without consulting his reviews. You would really like it. He started to insult me because he thought I was stupid (I mentioned I had friends in the Independent Media who are Socialists)

Me: What’s the Independent Media?

Her: dc.indymedia.org Free press. I told him I’d rather live in a society where people get free healthcare and education and he left the room.

Me: In the US, “Liberal” means Communist, so “Socialist” must mean “In League With the Devil”… Americans!

Her: I think Socialism means Communism here.  He said he’d read Marx and I told him he obviously didn’t know what Socialism actually is. I think he got pissed off when he realised I was more intelligent than him.

Me: I should tell him kibbutzes are Socialism in action. Communism, indeed. Ironic that right-wingers in the US support Israeli kibbutzes.

Tuesday 4th June 2002

Live Jubilee coverage all over the TV. Somehow it seems bigger than the Silver Jubilee.

Wednesday 5th June 2002

I talked to someone who has dealings with prisoners. She says prison letters all have the same smell. Slightly musty, slightly medical.

She told me about an old woman of 78 who reads newspapers then, unsteady on her feet, moves around her home by touching the walls for support. She leaves black finger marks everywhere – which she can’t see because of her bad eyesight.

‘Britain’s Most Violent Prisoner’ Charles Bronson, has been inside for 28 years. This week he was given a TV set for the first time and, for the past three days, he has been totally docile – watching episodes of the children’s series Teletubbies.

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Mr Methane causes a right Royal stink with his “God Save The Queen” ringtone

Mr Methane blows his own trumpet for Queen Elizabeth II

My chum Mr Methane from Macclesfield knows how to cause a stink. He is, after all, the world’s only professional performing farter.

But he is also a true patriot and says he wants to capture the British nation’s nostalgic mood in this glorious Diamond Jubilee year with his unique rendition of God Save the Queen on what he calls his bottom bugle. His press release starts:

I’ve spent most of my life looking back, so I think I know a thing or two about nostalgia. Over the last sixty years of Her Majesty’s reign, the wind of change has blown through Britain and all its pink bits on the map. My latest release celebrates this. 

When Her Majesty first sat on the throne, it coincided with Edmund Hillary conquering the heights of Mount Everest. I cannot compete with that, but I hope my Royal Fanfare will reach new heights of memorability.

It may well do. The ringtone was released yesterday morning, but he has already received 19 e-mails complaining about it. He is unrepentant.

“Perhaps it sounds like me blowing my own trumpet,” Mr Methane told me in the early hours of this morning, “but I think my long experience means I’m uniquely placed to put the ring into ringtone.”

“You are a smooth-tongued wordsmith,” I told him. “But how did you come up with the idea?”

“Well,” he told me, “Originally, I decided to release an iTunes album of various national anthems. But then I realised it’s the Big One this year for Her Majesty. I remembered the Silver Jubilee of 1977 and what fun it was. And then I saw TV news reports of Gary Barlow doing his bit fixing up a concert for this year’s Diamond Jubilee and thought, I’ll release my own very special gift to Her Majesty – a Diamond Jubilee ringtone – with the emphasis on the ring. One that’s slightly more anarchic and in the spirit of 1977 and the Sex PistolsGod Save The Queen than all this current corporate X-Factor-type, pass-me-the-sick bucket, arse-kissing stuff. 

“And yet,” he continued, “it’s actually totally harmless and all in good fun. It’s a very British thing. It’s something we all do. Even Prince Philip… though I suspect he blames it on the Corgis. My ringtone illustrates in just a few short seconds the unique relationship between the British monarch and her people – I mean, John, you really wouldn’t get away with this sort of thing in North Korea.

“I realise some folks,” Mr Methane admitted, “may just see me as one of the many children of Margaret Thatcher and her Thatcherite revolution… just using my dubious talents by jumping on every opportunity to  make a few quid. But no, no… How could anyone really think that of me, John? People are so cynical nowadays. I am a patriot.”

“Indeed,” I agreed. “Anything else coming up?”

“I have just been approached to appear on France Has Got Talent (La France a un incroyable talent) possibly because, as you know, last year I got through to the semi-finals of Germany’s Got Talent (Der Supertalent). Then, later this year, I’ll be following up the release of my God Save The Queen ringtone with a full album of various fully-farted national anthems… Australia, America, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and others.”

“Are the British more or less appreciative of the art of flatulism than other places?” I asked.

“I think farting divides the British nation,” Mr Methane replied, “but not in the way you might think. The key to the UK is that, as a whole, we are a tolerant, polite and slightly oppressed nation with a class system that’s still intact and flatulism really takes off in that sort of an environment. The upper class gentry actually like a good fart performance more than the working classes but the middle classes, as a rule, hate it.”

“Will you be sending a complimentary copy of the ringtone to Her Majesty?” I asked.

“If she requested one, of course, I would send her the full blown-version as well as the shortened ringtone version. But, somehow, I suspect any request from the Palace is more likely to come from Prince Philip than from Her Majesty herself.”

“Why a ringtone and not a single?” I asked.

“A whim. But the downside is you have to find it yourself on iTunes. It has no direct link. I  can’t link to it from my website and you can only access it from a mobile phone, not from a computer – You just go to iTunes and search for ‘mr methane ringtone’. It’s only 99p.”

“I smell commercial success,” I told Mr Methane.

“It’s good to be British,” he said. “I look on it as a very British thing.”

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The search for the ultimate film title: from Abba to Jesus Christ via “Surf Nazis Must Die!”

I saw the Abba movie Mama Mia! on TV at the weekend – I’d missed it in the cinema. The only problem is that, whenever I hear the words Mama Mia! in my head I start singing Queen’s song Bohemian Rhapsody not the Abba song Mama Mia!

Titles are almost more important than content.

I did say “almost”.

When Alex Reid’s not-quite-critically-acclaimed but certainly noticed movie Killer Bitch was being mooted, other titles were talked-of. As it is about a woman forced to kill lots of people, I rather fancied the title:

THE KILLER WORE A BRA

At least it is what it says on the label.

But it was suggested to me that the core audience of young lads and the core cast of a large number of heavies, crime figures, boxers and martial arts exponents might not take kindly to being associated with a movie called The Killer Wore a Bra and I should factor in an element of self-preservation when discussing the choice of title. At the point The Killer Wore a Bra was mentioned, though, we did also semi-seriously discuss the possibility of approaching Carry On movie star Leslie Philips for a role in the film.

Other titles considered included Die, You Bastards, Die! (echoing Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker! aka For a Fistful of Dynamite aka Once Upon a Time… the Revolution)Forced to Kill and Kill Again (slightly echoing Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!)… as well as Bitch on the RampageBloody Bitch From Hell… and Lipstick and Leather.

Lipstick and Leather sounds to me like a classy Italian art film.

I would pay to see it.

I have always wanted to see the movie originally titled Snow White and The Seven Perverts because, after complaints from the Walt Disney Company, the makers changed their title to Some Day My Prince Will Come and anyone who can think up that as a secondary title is OK in my book.

A friend of mine says she actually saw this movie in London in the company of seven Persians but doesn’t remember the movie itself. “This was before the Shah was overthrown,” she says, “so they were a very different type of Persian back then. They were more like the French.”

The other film I have always wanted to see is She Lost Her You-Know-What which was also known as Tower of the Screaming Virgins and was billed in the publicity as “Based on a story by Alexandre Dumas”. This sounded, at the very least, intriguing and was presumably only loosely based on a Dumas  novel.

Anthony Newley’s gobsmackingly OTT Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (which I’ve mentioned more than once before) lived up to its OTT title but, alas, I’m told by someone unfortunate enough to see it that the legendary Troma production Surf Nazis Must Die! failed utterly – it was simply about some surfers with an attitude problem and didn’t equal the kitsch mix of Nazis, breasts and dodgy rock music that Russ Meyer managed in Beyond The Valley of The Dolls.

I am a great fan of the genuinely highly talented writer/director Larry Cohen, whose works include Dial Rat for Terror, the wonderful Q: The Winged Serpent and the utterly bonkers God Told Me To in which a string of people who kill random strangers explain, “God told me to,” and, bugger me, it turns out God actually DID tell them to… and Jesus is reincarnated as a hermaphrodite. (Larry Cohen is a great writer)

I did suggest a follow-up to Killer Bitch called Killer Christ. The outline read:

_____

KILLER CHRIST

The world is full of scum: the pimps, the whores, the conmen, robbers, murderers, psychos and killer bitches. It needs cleaning up. Now time has run out for the scum of the Earth. It’s Apocalypse time! Only one man is big enough for the job. The Big Man is back. He cleared the scum from the Temple in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago. Now his job is bigger but his firepower is bigger.

This is Death Wish crossed with Terminator.

He is the ultimate vigilante for the 21st Century.

Your wildest dreams were only the beginning…

JESUS IS BACK… AND THIS TIME HE’S MAD AS HELL !

_____

No-one has come back to me on this one.

I live in hope.

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Yesterday I met a man from Atlantis who speaks Japanese

For ages, I have thought there was mileage in a Real People chat show on TV – if you go to any bus queue in any town in Britain and choose any person at random then, with the right questions, that person will reveal the most extraordinary life story.

Life truly is stranger than fiction. Novels are very often watered-down versions of the truth and they have been watered-down simply to make them believable.

I was reminded of this when I was passing through the food department of Selfridges in Oxford Street yesterday and I was offered a free tea sample by a Greek-Bulgarian sales specialist working for the East India Company which was bought by an Indian entrepreneur in 2005 and which opened a shop in London’s West End last year. It turned out the tea-offerer was from the island of Santorini (claimed by some to be the origin of the legend of Atlantis). He told me he spoke six languages including Japanese and Scots Gaelic – which he then proceeded to do.

Speak Gaelic.

It is a tad odd to have a Greek-Bulgarian from Atlantis who works for the East India Company (given its charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600) speak Gaelic to you when you are passing through the food department of Selfridges department store.

To surprise me, it would have been enough for him, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company because I hadn’t realised it had been re-born.

While being one of the most successful commercial companies ever to exist –  at its height, the company allegedly generated half of world trade and it established Singapore and Hong Kong as trading centres – it also effectively ruled India with its own army on behalf of the British government 1757-1858 and virtually built the British Empire by monopolising the Opium Trade – it was responsible both for the Opium Wars and the Indian Mutiny!

That Indian entrepreneur – Sanjiv Mehta – who bought the name in 2005 and re-started the company last year is a near genius. People are buying recognisable brand names for millions of pounds/dollars all over the world and the East India Company must be one of the most famous names worldwide – it has been around for 411 years – though I’m not sure trade with China will be easy!

So it would have been enough for the tea-offerer, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company but, good heavens – perhaps you had to be there – a Greek-Bulgarian who works for the East India Company, comes from the original Atlantis and speaks Gaelic! What are the odds of that combination happening? If you wrote a novel with a character like that in it, people would laugh at how stupid you were for including such a literally incredible character…

What price a Real People chat show?

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Kate Middleton, Mary Millington, Adolf Hitler, the New York Jew and the British porn baron

Six degrees of separation? Probably less.

I was talking to someone who went to University (UCL, London) with the mother of Kate Middleton, our possibly future Queen. He didn’t know her well, only peripherally. But he also knew peripherally fellow London University student David Sullivan (Queen Mary College) who was captain of a rowing team at the time but who was also chummy with future porn star Mary Millington and who was dipping his toes in what was later to become his vast pornography empire, including the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers.

This vague link between our possibly future Queen’s mum and one of the UK’s primary purveyors of soft-ish porn reminds me of esteemed American comedian Andrew J Lederer who, a few years ago, built an entire Edinburgh Fringe comedy show round his close link to Adolf Hitler.

Well, one degree of separation (or is it two?)

A few years before, at some movie event in the United States, Andrew had met and shaken the hand of Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s famous film director. She, obviously, had shaken Hitler’s hand way back in the 1930s and 1940s. So Andrew, a New York Jew, was only one handshake removed from Adolf Hitler.

All this and I’ve still never met Baby Spice. So near and yet, tragically, so far.

Life.

Tell me about it.

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