Per the MEN, Manchester hosted 30 street parties today. Two of them were north of the city centre, one in Cheetham, one over in Moston. That makes one royal celebration per 110,000 people, roughly. And North Manchester is most decidedly not the liberal bit. Metrosexualism ends roughly at the place where the Irk flows under Victoria Station.
I’ve said before that the punters are largely indifferent. But this isn’t to say that people were uninterested. The wedding would have been watched because it was on the telly, even by people who didn’t want to watch it. It was another edition of Britain’s Got Royals and it's not like people had much choice if they switched over. My street featured one modest string of bunting, which wasn’t much compared to the flag festoon you get during the World Cup and the Euros. Such is the position of royalty in working class Mancunia. Few particularly want a republic, and if the proposition were put very many people would be opposed to losing a reliable source of entertainment, but if the royals just vanished they’d be forgotten about in a fortnight. Active working class monarchism is pretty much dead. For one thing it couldn’t have survived the enjoyment of millions of ordinary British folk in the ongoing humiliation of the first clown family over the past twenty years. And now we have the cycle starting again.
I think the people who watched it got a genuine education in multiculturalism. All kinds of people jog along with each other more or less happily up here, but I don’t think many of us have seen the Home Counties middle classes out en masse on a spree. Some came to town in comedy headware. Some stayed at home and frolicked amid bucolic flummery. But those were the folks who were there. Those were the folks who were celebrating. Cameron used the resources of the state to conjure up the resurrection of the Primrose League under cover of a national event. He sacrificed millions in the profits of his party’s financial supporters in giving everyone a day off to more clearly identify his, and their, base community.
There were sporadic media efforts to fake up a national dimension through talking to people who weren’t in London and/or who didn’t sound comfortably numb. But the people talked to were obvious royal obsessives, which is an entirely different subculture.
I think the best current republican argument is a broadly libertarian one. Look, royals, I’m sure you’re working very hard and all that – though I understand you have gold plated pensions - but you have to realize that your support base is prosperous and that your antics appeal at some merchantable level to millions. You need to transition to private sponsorship, like the Notting Hill Carnival and various Chinese New Year celebrations. Isn’t it time you monetized this base and embraced your destiny as part of the entertainment industry? Isn’t it time you put up a paywall? As Shanghai TV put it earlier today, "it's unfair to call Kate Middleton a commoner when her family are millionaires."
She accumulated vast wealth and power, but was reviled for her puritanical social campaigns and her callous dismissal of Buddhist monks who burned themselves to death to protest against the brutal rule of Diem and her husband Ngo Dinh Nhu. "I would clap hands at seeing another monk barbecue show, for one cannot be responsible for the madness of others," she wrote in a letter to the New York Times. The world was stunned by photographs of monks sitting shrouded in flames; Madame Nhu simply offered to bring along some mustard for the next self-immolation. She later accused monks of lacking patriotism for setting themselves alight with imported petrol.
...Madame Nhu, the name by which she was always known, although she was born Tran Le Xuan, preferred to see herself as continuing the tradition of the Trung sisters, two aristocratic women who led a revolt against Chinese rule in the first century.
...and who famously rode out against the enemy with a breast slung over each shoulder, which would have been something to see.
…and will be annihilated”. Lon Nol era anti-Vietnamese propaganda from Cambodia. Eyes of the Pineapple explains:
Reproduced in the thousands, these posters were printed in full colour, and distributed free of charge throughout the country on the Buddha’s Birthday in May 1971. Depicting the hordes of Mara, the Evil One, ‘lord of the senses,’ who sends his troops to prevent the Bodhisattva reaching enlightenment, in this altered version of well-known Buddhist imagery they are depicted as Vietnamese soldiers, wearing traditional ‘Non La’ conical hats, as well as brandishing Kalashnikov automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Mara is seen to the left, atop what is supposed to be a Soviet-made tank, sending his demons to stop him, while beneath Bodhisattva’s throne the earth deity is seen wringing a deluge of water from her long hair (which symbolises his accumulated merit from past virtuous deeds), in order to wash away and drown Mara’s troops. A large white crocodile is seen crawling at her feet.
It didn’t work. But Lon kept faith till the end:
And by then, with the Khmer Rouge strangling Phnom Penh, and while perhaps disappointed with the talismanic properties of a letter from Richard Nixon kept in his pocket, there is a story about Lon Nol ordering a Huey helicopter to fly around the outskirts of the capital scattering purple-coloured sand, believing it would offer the city magical protection from rocket attacks.
Just spent some time at a taxi rank behind a lady wearing one of those extravagant African dresses – this one black, with green starbursts and including portraits of Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Congo Brazzaville. I think Denis was meant to be looking stern and purposeful, but since the lady had rather a big backside I found him beaming at me in a slightly disconcerting way. It didn’t help that there were several pictures of Denis incorporated into the design of the dress, so he was also squinting at me from under her left armpit. Eventually, the lady clambered into a cab with Denis and they went away somewhere.
Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘Blogging is mutating faster than a fruit fly in a scientific experiment: now in its third year, the Blog Prize shows how this new vehicle for writing is both taking us into areas of private and unreported experience (like the inner life of politics in Mid-Wife Crisis), but also finding new voices, magnanimous and distinct.’
The winners of the Orwell Prizes – each worth £3000 – will be announced at an awards ceremony at Church House, Westminster, on Tuesday 17th May, 6.30 for 7pm.
The Orwell Prize will also be returning to the Buxton Festival this summer as part of its programme of public events. Nick Cohen (previously shortlisted for What’s Left?), Linda Grant (Orange Prize-winning novelist) and Matthew Parris (winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2005) will answer the question, ‘is politics corrupted by corrupted language?’, marking the 65thanniversary of Orwell’s ‘Politics and the English Language’
What do you actually want when you want to win the Orwell prize, fellow fruit flys? The chance to go to Buxton?