The bunting is hung across the street. The cakes are baked and the cucumber sandwiches prepared. Glass bottles with marble stoppers are filled with lashings of ginger beer and the Union Jacks distributed to every child. Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1981.
Thirty years ago, David Cameron, then aged 15, slept rough on the Mall in the hope of catching a glimpse of a princess. A few days earlier, a disabled man was killed by a police van in what became known as the Toxteth Riots. As thousands huddled in sleeping bags through choice rather than necessity in central London, the then Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Kenneth Oxford, stated that he and his officers would not be responsible for the fate of anyone on the streets of Liverpool after dark. CS gas canisters and rubber baton rounds were used for the first time on the British mainland. Kenneth was later knighted.
Now, the Metropolitan police officer in charge of security for the royal wedding, Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens, has stated that any “criminals” wishing to disrupt or even protest against the imminent nuptials will be dealt with “robustly”. Any veteran of a Scouse wedding will know that there is usually a fight at the reception and we do not want to see uninvited nutters from Muslims Against Crusades and the English Defence League lobbing vol-au-vent at each other or, even worse, the few remaining dissident republican dinosaurs from across the water planting bags of fertiliser around Westminster Abbey. Of course, the safety and security of the happy couple, the monarch and the visiting dignitaries is of paramount importance, but to class dissenting voices who question the cost of this match made in heaven as “criminal” is a worrying development. It would seem that the Met are now integral to the PR hype being peddled by government, the press and the palace to make sure that we celebrate the union of prince and wife and join in with the right royal knees-up. Enjoyment and loyalty to the crown is now compulsory, as is the bill for the wedding.
As the coalition cuts begin to bite, those facing redundancy and those already laid off will certainly enjoy the extra bank holiday and the opportunity to express their joy at a fairy-tale marriage. Street party tables in the middle of the road will not hinder emergency services attempting to attend the sick, elderly and dying because those emergency services are being withdrawn as a “saving”. One can only hope that the dashing groom does not worry too much that his job as a search and rescue helicopter pilot is under threat due to defence cuts. We are all in this together, but most of us will not receive Cornwall and Wales as wedding presents.
Given the hard times of old England, the royal family and the coalition have missed the chance of a lifetime to make “efficiency savings” to offset the cost of staging the spectacular. Clearly such an important couple deserve more than a Registry Office and a few pork pies in the upstairs room of a working mens club so flogging tickets to the Abbey to wealthy social climbers would rake in enough to save the NHS. The rights to the wedding snaps sold to Hello magazine would fund the rebuilding of every school in the land and television companies would fight tooth and nail to produce a new reality show called My Big, Fat Windsor Wedding together with a Bridesmaids Got Talent spin-off. MacDonald’s could do the catering and distribute a nutritious happy meal to every child in the nation instead of a boring mug.
As the big day approaches, this humble blog wishes the young newly-weds a long and happy life together and hopes that the struggle to find and keep employment, a mortgage, being close to a decent hospital and finding a decent school for any future little princes and princesses proves not to be too traumatic. Wishing to avoid the fawning “gawd bless yer, Wills and Kate and gawd bless yer, ma’am” nonsense currently obsessing the media, the hippo intends to spend the day at the bottom of a disused mine shaft with a bottle of Glenmorangie.
Risking lèse majesté, the bottle might need to be super-sized.