If you’re deaf and you mingle regularly in hearing or mainstream company – regardless of whether it was from choice or not – then today, you would have needed a long memory to join in the national anthem as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
(After all, only 20-25% of lipreading is visible, the rest being guesswork.)
Despite living through three jubilees – being a child of the ’70s – to my embarrassment I discovered in a nearby village yesterday that I couldn’t remember the words. Even so, Miles and I had a great time indulging in a succulent hog roast with the rest of them – including a local lady of the manor who’d decided to adorn her tailored red-and-white polka-dot long coat with a chiffon scarf in the colours of the Union Jack, and several of what looked like silver-haired (and silver-hearing-aided) ex-members of the Light Brigade.
The spirit in which the Big Lunch was held – mini-Union Jacks accessorizing little glass jars of spriggy blooms; rickety wooden tables all lined up under white tents in pool-heavy rain; a televised Pageant unfolding on a giant screen in the village hall – reminded me a lot of the Queen’s 1977 Jubilee, when more than one million people helped her celebrate 25 years as their sovereign.
(Indeed, the lively carnival on the High Street the very next day, which included kids in gold card cut-out crowns, a Queen Britannia in a wheelchair, Jazzexercise dancing queens, and local community groups and Cub Scouts galore, came resplendent with a multitude of assorted Union Jacks.)
Say what you like about the Royal Family, Anarchy in The UK and the rest of it; the fact is, I have fond memories of ’77 as a child and I loved the whole shebang, rebellion, pomp and all (yes, even Johnny Rotten‘s pale, carrot-topped death-stare). The peculiar class hierarchy that distinguishes this country from others is exactly the reason for the extraordinary proliferation of subcultures we have had, including mods, skinheads, punk, New Romantics and so on – all of which have established a colourful rebellious streak that can only be British.
Then there’s that flag. No-one who went into the villages today can deny the iconic status of the old red, white and blue, particularly in the form of pale bunting zig-zagging across an inky forest backdrop. Who knew combining the flags of Scotland, England and Wales would create such a vivid image?
I don’t think anything could possibly captivate the minds of my generation quite like the Silver Jubilee. What do you fortysomethings remember of the Golden Jubilee? Exactly.
Fun though they have been, the most the weekend’s celebrations so far have done for me is revive memories of a time when the old stood face-to-face with the new, the former averting their stoical eyes in the hope that the latter’s glowering countenance would soon lose its snarl.
Of course, instead of fading that snarl created its own legacy, spawning Ian Dury and The Blockheads and the disability rights movement, the arts scene of which seems to have based its glorious irreverence since on the equally glorious DIY ethos of its original incentive. (Incidentally, Reasons To Be Cheerful, the fantastic on-tour musical from disability-led theatre company Graeae – of which Ian Dury was once a patron – reaches The Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre this September.) Meanwhile, the potency of the Union Jack and, ironically, the monarchy itself, were heightened by the safety-pinned graphics of Jamie Reid for the Sex Pistols and bands like The Who.
But I’ve said enough. The Diamond Jubilee concert has just ended on the telly with a show of extravagant fireworks that seem to stand still in their majesty, and all I can think of right now is God Save The Queen.
No, not that one; but this altogether more exuberant version from the Sex Pistols, wittily revived by Matt Hulse in a 2002 BSL promo featuring Samuel Dore. If your heart skips a beat at the memory of the 1977 Jubilee – and you’re a deaf bilingual person who’s tired of lipreading today – then you’ll love this.