It started as overcast here today, so we decided on a lazy, indoors day of reading, relaxing and being creative.
To celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee I have the BBC on in the background, we are drinking copious amounts of tea and we have already devoured a roast chicken for lunch.
I had planned to host an English tea party but today is Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) and it’s taken rather seriously here – a Clinton’s card and some Thornton’s chocs won’t do. Latin countries are matriarchal and the mother is a respected figure of the family; she is their queen. Here they spend the day celebrating and thanking her. Instead of a quaint afternoon of cucumber sandwiches and cupcakes (something I wouldn’t do in England), the lack of guests has saved me the chore of fiddling around with icing bags, and little cutting off crusts and I can get stuck into some reading between patriotic moments led by the TV.
G couldn’t understand the English desire to celebrate the queen. I tried to explain how the pomp and pageantry is a fundamental part of our culture.
“Ah, it’s just the celebration you like, more than the queen”, he replied rather perceptively.
“It’s all of it”.
“You like the royal family because of these occasions? Because if she exercised her power as head of state, do you think she’d be able to relate to all parts of society? Do you think she’d be good because she’s born into it? ” he asked trying to fathom out our non-Republican ideals.
I shrugged, “We don’t really go there”.
Watching the celebrations on TV, the reporters asked throngs of young people and families what they liked most about the day, most answered the party spirit. Older citizens replied that they could remember past royal events which brought back memories of past lives. Some held mixed feelings as they gazed back into nostalgia to answer provocative and leading questions into microphones of grinning reporters. One things for sure, it’s part of English history and a collective memory for us to share. It’s a coming together of British people to celebrate and enjoy their history and future – even if it seems more abstract than that.
It’s raining in the UK, which is a shame but also normal. I love that people remain outside despite the bad weather but I can’t help but feel disappointed, as if the the skies chose not to support their efforts.
The armada, or Thames pageant, is not something which really excites me as it’s quite slow. I imagine watching thousands of boats glide past you would get quite boring. My brother is part of the gun salute with the HAC and I’m excited to watch that bit and spot him again on TV but boats travelling in close formation down the dirty winding river in the grey drizzle, it’s not my kind of party. I much prefer a good trot around the palace with the fluffy hats and carriages.
I was going to tune into French Channel 2 and watch Karl Lagerfeld’s commentary; until I heard it was a fashion criticism of the day, reducing it into more of a farce. His summary of the Royal Wedding being a day of “short skirts”, “fat legs” and “bad proportions”, failed to acknowledge all else that the day symbolised and made me feel quite annoyed.
As I sit here in the French storm, with booming thunder, torrential down pour and flashes of electric, I feel distinctly cosy and British in a very non-British part of the world. Sipping my tea I feel part of the national celebration and spectacle – well until the storm cuts our power!
Happy Jubilee Great Britain! I raise my tea cup to you.