Sunday, 3 June 2012

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen...

Well, I caved in. I wasn't going to – I didn't mean to. Its inescapable; I'm British. Those of you from Foreign Shores (And no-one is, if you carry the thought along a bit...) and certainly those from Post-Colonial Shores might have a different take on things, particularly the peculiar area of Royalty, but here in the good old United Kingdom (The UQ?) we are currently Jubilant. Sixty years ago, the 25yr old Princess Elizabeth of Edinburgh was happily on Honeymoon in Kenya. In the splendidly evocative setting of Treetops (As the name suggests, a sort of tree-house hotel) her life was, effectively ended – as much as her as-yet responsibility-light existence was suddenly replaced by one of Regality with the death of her father King George VI. O.K. Living in castles and palaces with wall to wall bling and flunkies never more than a corgi's bark away might not seem like a job in the usual sense, but think about it; what can she do?. Shopping, going to the pub, getting squiffy on a beach in Torremelinos – all these and many more aspects of 'normal' life denied. Forever. 

In the modern world, a Royal family cannot avoid criticism – half the World is starving or shooting at each other and a few luck-birthed people exist in a welter of luxury. Luckily, half the World is too busy with the starving/shooting to notice, but that leaves the rest of us in what used to be the First World (Just where the Second World is is anyone's guess) – and what an inquisitive bunch we can be. The fact that such a quaint institution has survived into the 21st Century when most of Europe herded their own Royals into clearings or onto platforms is a sobering one.

1952 – the year of the H-bomb, the Helsinki Olympics and the first Sex Change. Even as Christine Jorgensen was going under the knife, America had the Hydrogen Bomb. Not to be left out, the We're-Still-A-Great-Power-Aren't-We? Churchill announced we had an Atom Bomb, too, happily irradiating somewhere with the unlikely name of the Monte Bello islands as proof. Hopefully we had another. On a slightly less successful scale was the attempt by a Welsh Republican group to blow up the water pipeline to Birmingham. As their sole achievement was making a few thousand taps dribble – a bit – I won't bother to name them. Events took a sinister turn too in Edinburgh, where outraged Scots Nationalists attacked the first of the new EIIR post boxes. In the world of showbiz the NME singles chart was born and the Mousetrap began its (still going) run on the London stage, although the Great Smog descended on the Capital – a lethal, choking miasma (Insert European Union joke of choice here). 

The year 1952 also saw the births of, amongst many others; Vladimir Putin,
Christopher Reeve of Superman fame, Liam Neeson, the splendid John Goodman, Dan Aykroyd (A real treasure), Jeff Goldblum – but also Patrick Swayze and David Hasselhoff – who once acted as second string to K.I.T.T. In K.I.T.T.'s show Knight Rider (A show about a car so clever it could solve crime, but still needed a lump of meat behind the wheel due, presumably to some obscure American road law). Any offence at the two latter ouvres is, of course, immediately forgotten as the year also gave us MR.T – a man heinously overlooked in Presidential races ever since in my humble opinings... oh, Eva Peron checked out. Thats that then.

At this point I'd be disastrously remiss in my Blog-related duties if I failed to mention the sterling efforts of Miss.Katherine Dewar of Chester, age 10. Her winning entry is EVERYWHERE at present, having been chosen from a large pile of juvenile artistic effort – the 60th Jubilee Logo is a pleasing effort that draws no comparison with the abyssal depths reached by the London Olympics committee – who I have had shot, naturally. 
The Queen has done away with some of the more ostentatious trappings - such as the Royal Yacht, Britannia - a sitting room seen above.
Not the best colour or focus, but this shows the Queen as she was, relaxing at Balmoral with the famous Corgis. (For those interested, the Corgis are named Monty, Linnet, Holly and Willow.)
I love this one - apart from the perfect illustration of The Queen's relationship with Prince Charles (Never mind Dear, have your candy floss and play with your little car) Its a charming picture.
On a tangent (Moi?), a look at the Great Britain of the time - seen here in a, possibly idealistic, setting from The Autocar magazine. Nice to see even back then the mythical open road offered to car owners by ad men.
All you need to know about being British 1950's ( In many cases 1960's-70's-80's-etc) style; a truly sickening glimpse into the mind-set prevalent among a whole Nation? - yes, sure, but also a hilarious cry for help from the bee-keepers of England... simply stunning.
Cultural Matters always feature strongly here in the Jungle Room - as here with the wonderful Ethel (Not even sure if British) and (below) A popular dance of the age, which looks alarmingly like a Ju-Jitsu demonstration to me...
Below- some images that convey the feeling evoked by the era - if not strictly all from 1952 - The inventiveness represented by the Hovercraft, Piccadilly Circus (Looking strangely toy-like thanks to my mucking around with the image) and the Comet, the first Jet-Airliner, ushering in the dream age of International Air Travel. Tragically, the Comet was to crash on four occasions, with appalling loss of life. (Metal fatigue was the blame - Boeing then took the mantle with their aircraft. Britain's aviation industry never really recovered, despite our role in producing the extraordinary (And inefficient) Concorde.
Oh, go on then... have one of the British Bobby (Seen here nicking a rioter last year)
Finally, raise your glasses - Sixty years, during which the Old Girl has only missed three appointments - Sixty incredible, turbulent, vibrant years of social change and irreversible progress combined with regression. Whichever - no matter what your viewpoint, it is hard not to admire this lady, a woman who has ruled both Country and Commonwealth, but resisting the worst of the changes pressed on us all by the times. Cheers, Ma'am.
HM Queen Elizabeth II

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