What just happened there then?
Why were friends and acquaintances I had always found to be entirely sane and discerning now displaying more grief at the demise of a woman they had never met than they had on the death of their own parents? And why were some taking so personally my calling out the Queen’s funeral pomposities as I saw them, as excessive, ridiculous, even obscene?
“There is a time and a place,” I was repeatedly told. But I reside in a place that was never on the Queen’s map, and — seeing as I had just endured ten days of mawkish tosh being trotted out from every UK media outlet (including by journalists who I knew did not believe a word they were saying) — the time seemed just fine too.
The deification of the Queen this past fortnight — culminating in an OTT, stage-managed funeral that made Speer’s rallies look like a 70s NF march down Eltham High Street — appeared to me like collective hysteria bordering on mental illness.
So what is it all based on then, this monarchy thing? The divine right of kings?
If you have spotted the “divine” in our adulterous new King, who throws tantrums over leaking fountain pens, then please do let me know where. Or if you have seen it in his brother — reportedly the Queen’s (one-time, at least) favourite son — who at best fraternised with a notorious sex trafficker and paedophile, and at worst raped an underage girl. Or in his younger son, whose idea of a lark was dressing up as a Nazi . . . though perhaps this one should not entirely surprise, seeing as all manner of uncles and aunts actually were Nazis, married to them, or a little bit partial to a soupçon of Nazism.
I mean just how gullible can people be about a family of such preposterous, unearned and undeserved wealth and privilege? And who in their right mind would actually look up to such a largely dysfunctional lot? Now that the Queen has left us, I can’t think of a single role model amongst them. Indeed, to come up with a family as unsavoury, I have to think back to some of those I came across during my training in Criminal and Family Legal Aid.
The supersensitive friend (now ex-) most enraged by my “obscene” observation — and that is pretty much all it was — on Facebook is a fellow Leeds United fan who once Sieg Heil-ed in my presence in a Madrid bar. (Nothing to do with me, you understand, rather the unannounced playing of a U2 song . . . they are Irish, you know!) I suppose different things offend different people.
The Queen always came across to me as a decent human being. But that was all she was . . . a human being, if with a heightened sense of duty and moral rectitude, who performed an essential “check and balance” under the curious British Constitution.
Growing up, I would look at Mrs Hart — our lovely “daily” on Edgeworth Crescent, who worked tirelessly for her family on the local estate — and ponder the unjust randomness of things. To me, as a boy, she and Elizabeth Windsor even resembled one another. Pat Hart, though, had not been born into a family anointed by an absurd fiction. “Good morning, Doctor Isaacson,” Mrs H would always merrily call out to my father. But on the occasions that Prince Philip visited him at King’s College Hospital, my father, a brilliant consultant physician, was not even permitted to initiate conversation with the Duke.
The main conclusion I draw from the sometimes surreal past fortnight is that people are looking for meaning that organised religion — including my own (I was simply aghast at how many Jewish friends bought into the mass hysteria) — cannot provide. I mean even an avowed apikores (non-believer) like me would rather hedge my bets with a Higher Being, with credentials stronger and a reign longer than those of a family characterised by at least as much bad as good.