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!
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.