I’ve been listening to Alan Bennett (Untold Stories) on an old CD-R someone copied for us. If you find some faux Bennett er, thingies in this (never having quite got the measure of parody or, more accurately never quite having found a style of my own) er, that’ll be the reason. My ‘partner’ (following AB, I hereby explain that I’ve never been comfortable with this description - AB would have a more accurate word there and the punctuation would also be better. Not married and being a couple of decades past the word ‘girlfriend’ I use it, but it smacks of what feels like part of the modern trend towards the inaccurate use of words). Not being AB I have to repeat so as not to get lost…ahem, my partner goes to a local community café place to find it closed as one of the royal princes has come to shake hands with the goats that they have in the yard or something. I expect that if the question occurs as to whether the café serves curried goat (if he’s ever heard of such a thing) he won’t ask it. I guess it’ll be William and not Harry. Their ubiquity in the news ensuring that my ignorance of which was who which I carried as a badge of republican honour for years means that I’m pretty sure that Harry is in America suing Oprah Winfrey or selling candles or something.
This makes me ponder one of those questions that are sometimes posed by columnists in right-wing newspapers. Or were anyway. A random memory from a long time back along the lines of ‘if we don’t have a monarchy who could we possibly have as a president? President Hattersley?!’ (the now very veteran Labour politician) being the guffawing riposte which doesn’t sound so stupid now. I was wondering who would be good as a ceremonial head of state and if say 15 years ago President Attenborough had been suggested wouldn’t he have done? Shirley Williams (another veteran labour person) would have worked too I think. Or president Ken Clarke? The point is that you can actually find these people and surely it’d be better than having people who are there simply via having a tenuous connection to some warlord from a thousand years ago.
I say tenuous. When ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ did comedian Josh Widdecombe they found a connection to ‘the royal family’ and as you might expect went on about it at some length. A quick calculation (by me, not them, I guess it’s the kind of thing that either didn’t occur or would have seemed churlish to mention, royal connections still being positive things in the modern world) quickly revealed that there were nearly 1,000 other people he was descended from (working this out by going 2 parents, 4 grand parents, 8 grand-grand parents and so on). I guess royal families are more in-bred but it does seem weird that we get someone who is ‘royal’ due to them having a very vague connection to the thieves, tyrants and warmongers of yesteryear round to fondle our good clean Northern goats. We are very backwards and old fashioned – bring on the eighteenth century!