This Happy Breed


Happiness. It’s good to be happy, innit? With the country on the Fritz, the economy in freefall, your trusty black dog scratching at your bedroom door to persuade you to get up and face the world, and with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel (apart from the light of that oncoming train) it’s amazing what small Murphys we thank heaven for, what little ray of sunshine peaks through the clouds and lifts our hearts to cheer up our miserable fucking lives.

Take the recent romp and pomp up in Westminster Abbey. Now I like a wedding as much as the next bloke, though I’d much rather be an innocent bystander than active participant, of course. I can’t imagine flying across the world, or even hopping on a train for 40 minutes to go and celebrate the wedding of a couple whom I’d never met, nor ever likely to meet. But that’s what a million or so folk did last Friday. Unbelievable. I haven’t seen that many happy people in London since Robert Maxwell went for a dip off the back of his boat


Oops! Sorry, wrong one.


Tented villages appeared along the pavements in The Mall and Whitehall as people camped out overnight, overnight mark you, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the happy couple. Union flags (or is it Jacks?) were waved by small children and large Americans in front of the mass ranks of cameras as the world’s tv crews went in search of the happiest/daftest/fattest fans of the soon-to-be Duke and Duchess of Neasden South, or wherever it is.

So many smiling faces. So much glee. So much joy. The BBC’s Welsh anchor (subs please check) Huw Ewards (fablaas) led us through the streets of London like a fat Ralph McTell pointing out the who’s who and the where’s where of the unfolding events. He never did quite manage to explain who and why a bunch of guests were crammed into minibuses, or indeed who was in charge of the beer and sandwiches therein. Nor did he quite explain fully what an avenue of trees  was doing inside the Abbey but suggested it was “Catherine’s idea”. It was unclear whether Huw offered this as an explanation or an excuse. No matter, nothing could dim the crowd’s enthusiasm for anything and everything on this, the most British of Days.

Inside the Abbey, the mood was a little more reserved, but none-the-less joyous. Not that you’d know it from the faces of Charlie, Liz and Phil.T.Greek. They don’t do unbridled rapture, that lot, so you had to look for clues elsewhere. The cameras cut and panned from guest to guest, accompanied by Huw’s less-than-Dimbleby-esque commentary. The Incumbent and I settled down agog (or is it twogog) in front of the tv set to see who was wearing what and why. Ah there’s the Queen Mother and at least she looks like she’s enjoying herself.  There’s even a little tear in her eye, though I’m suprised she was allowed to bring a corgi with her….hang on…wait a minute.. that’s not the Queen Mum at all. She’s dead for starters. No, no, no…that’s Elton John. And that corgi’s her husband!

Souvenir Royal plate by Vic Reeves and Alan Parris. http://www.aylesfordpottery.co.uk/

Mrs Cameron looked like she had just popped out for a bottle of milk. The Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice pulled off the coup of out-uglying both the Duchess of Ming (she must never be queen) and Tara Palmer Tompkinson combined (there must surely be a by-law that prevents them being let out in public?).

Outside the hordes of happy little people waved and cheered and waved some more as if it was the happiest day of their lives and they didn’t want it to ever end. My feelings were different in just two ways. For me it was nearly over almost as soon as it begun. No sooner had the welsh commentator introduced the welsh Archbishop of Canterbury, the organist wound up the opening bars of Guide Me Oh thou Great Redeemer and the BBC quickly cut back to an interview with a welsh harpist, I found myself uncontrollably feeling for the off-switch. But I was headed off at the pass by The Incumbent who was finding the whole proceedings hilarious. Apart from wondering why they hadn’t gone the whole hog and held the wedding at Cardiff Arms Park, I had to agree. There was much mirth to be had, if you looked in the right places.

I may not have been smiling for any of the reasons that those bedecked in red white and blue were smiling, but the whole day had for a moment distracted me from unemployment, poverty and my general chien noir malaise. If you can’t titter at a guardsman saluting mid-air as the Queen gets out of the car via the wrong door then you are dead from the neck up.

Talking of which, at time of writing we’re still yet to see the photos of Osama Bin Laden‘s corpse. Many people out there still refuse to believe that the US military finally caught up with the Al Qaeda Laeda and are demanding proof. For others, the news of his death proved too much for them and their happiness was all-too-apparent as they jumped up and down in the streets of Washington and New York, waving the Stars and Stripes (or is it strips?), merrily singing USA! USA! USA! (words & music by George and Ira Gershwin).

Wave after wave of baseball cap-wearing college student chanted and waved for any poor cameraman unlucky enough to have been given the assignment to go film them. The waving of flags (and indeed the burning of them) seems to be a pastime especially made for the cameras. Over the years the amount of US, British, Danish, Israeli, Hamas and Iraqi flags which have been waved and/or burned for the benefit of “news” organisations is really quite staggering. If the camera hadn’t been invented the flag-and-cigarette-lighter industry would be in grave peril of collapsing altogether. As it is, there were no shortage of gleeful Americans who were happy to party like it was 1994 for the benefit of CBS, FOX or the BBC. They’ll be the same ones who will shout insults and hurl abuse at the Muslims doing similar after the inevitable Al Qaeda retaliation. Ho hum. Pass me that tin hat will you, dear?

The CIA and the Whitehouse are discussing whether the pics of Bin Laden’s mashed-up body are too gruesome for public viewing. Having seen the Royal Family in their full glory last week, I doubt if the Americans have anything to frighten us.

Be Happy.

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