Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday 14 June 2008

About turn.....

Today was our annual festival of shouting, stamping, marching and oompah, dedicated to Saints Brasso and Blanco (with perhaps an echo of our prehistoric ancestors' worship of the horse).

I mean, of course, the Queen's Birthday Parade (or Trooping the Colour). No need to send a card or pressie, since it's the "official" day, not the real one. And like so many royal celebrations, it's not really about her as a person or an institution: it's often been noted that "royal" events are really about a communal celebration of - well, our capacity to celebrate.

In this case, the military celebrate their own ability to mount impressive demonstrations of somewhat baffling technical skills in moving large numbers of people around a defined space without bumping into each other - and doing so in gorgeous outfits with bags of swank and swagger. It can't be denied it's impressive. The processions and events that we plebs can see without invitation are striking enough - here's some clips I took this morning:

It's often seen as the closest we come to a British national day (our diplomats overseas tend to have major receptions and parties to coincide, just as the French do on Bastille Day or the Americans on 4th July). Different members of the Government keep suggesting such a day (without doing anything about it). If we wanted to, we could move the second May Bank Holiday (which no longer has its original religious connection) to this weekend (which tend to have the better weather). It's also conveniently close to the anniversary of Magna Carta. Admittedly, that was a showdown between Norman barons and a Norman king over the governance of England alone (and I have no idea what status or influence it had over Scottish law): but it's worth celebrating as a concept that unites us all its core principles - that all authorities are subject to law and due process, and above all To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

That was, of course, until this week's shameful parliamentary shambles.

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