For better or worse

The past is a foreign country, they do things different there. Including Royal Weddings. When on Wednesday 29th July 1981, a lukewarm and pre-occupied Prince Charles married paparazzi hungry Lady Di, the subsequent Queen of all our Hearts, complete with her dress that needed an iron running over it, the country paused. I remember it. It was sunny and we’d been given an extra day off school. This was the summer of Adam Ant. There were street parties (Toxteth and Brixton were especially lively) and the media ran the show in a way to make Josef Goebbels proud. Though, to be honest, I went out somewhere on my bike. But we still marked the day. We still felt a part of it. We’d bought a mug from school; a horrible brown thing with a cloudy picture of the happy couple which my mother still has somewhere. Packed full of those name labels I got when I started High School (how many items of clothing were they expecting me to have?) Four years before that had been the Silver Jubilee. Sunny again. Egg and spoon races and plastic Union Jacks everywhere. A commemorative coin in a plastic case from the National Westminster. I even had a T-shirt. We all cared. Even the Sex Pistols in their own way with their cartoon punk. The memory seems in 8mm cine film with the colours turned up. We were all part of the same community. We knew which country we were living in and the fact that we were British. We all went ‘ahhhhhhhhh’ over the Queen Mum and felt something stir inside us when we heard ‘Jerusalem’ and the national anthem. Even the wobbly marriage of Randy Prince Andy to toe-sucking, fun-lovin’, debt-riddled Fergie in the radioactive long, hot summer of 1986 was a national occasion. I played golf that day at Springmill nine hole golf course near Wakefield. But the Royals know how to put on a show. Even down to the weather. Maybe David Eyke is right and they are lizards controlling the world through the sinister power of a secret occult society. Because it was sunny yet again. Coincidence or something else…?


And now what? Thirty years after Chaz and Di went down the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in April 2011 when Wills married Kate the cynicism (except amongst the fawning, winnit chomping BBC reporters – Nicholas Witchell, well, you could never get tired of punching the sycophantic little ginger twat, could you?) was palpable. For most of the morning I was watching repeats of Robot Wars on Dave. I’d forgotten how good it was. Relatively. Until the chain text messages and Facebook updates about sending one into Kate’s sister Pippa and smashing her all over had me switching over to have a nosey. What the fuck was Fergie’s daughter wearing? Christmas fucking antlers?! Where had Harry been for his outfit?! Dunelm Mill? All those swags and tiebacks on his chest. The Royal dressing up box was raided that day. But it’s a sad indictment of 21st Century Britain that the nation was brought together in the one consensus that we all felt was that Kate’s sister would get her back doors knocked in before you could say ‘blow her legs off!’ You could see that’s what Harry was thinking. Best man’s prerogative and all that. Hawhawhaw…  Don’t get me wrong, William seems inoffensive enough. For a Hooray. But who cares? And why were they still stood outside Buck House the day after? They were ringing the piss out of the rag a bit thin then. Though I noticed that it was sunny again…


The modern culturally diverse Britain doesn’t give a wet fart about the Royals. Or being British. In fact, to be proud of either is now among the last taboos of modern life. Ranking up there with paedophilia. The Royals are an anachronism. Like Spangles and The Bay City Rollers. Which is what the media, and in particular the stuffier departments inside the BBC, forgets when it’s convenient for them. When they want to turn the Royal Family into something upmarket fit for the pages of Hello! and OK! magazines. The death of Diana at the end of the summer in 1997 was a crossroads in our relationship with Royalty. Coincidental with a shifting in British identity. When we had Tony Blair hamming it up in his best style on TV before we all lost faith in him. Before Britpop ended with ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ sound-tracking the end of an era in that last summer. When all the hope that had been denied to us throughout the Tory 80s seemed finally to be on offer as a new Millennium beckoned. I remember that Sunday morning 1997 when all the radio stations were playing requiems. The TV channels on loop desperate for some new footage to broadcast. 1997. Things could only get better. But did they?


Last week I was on the High Street in Wombwell getting my lunchtime sandwich from Potts, when passing the charity shop window I saw a commemorative plate celebrating the marriage of Fergie and Andy. The smiling couple surrounded by a gilded border. It was like the Sistine Chapel in acrylics. This was before Budgie the talking helicopter and partying with paedophiles and cashing in on the Royal name. Fergie and Andy – names you could see on a personalized strip above the windscreen of a Ford XR3i back in the day. They were down with the people. They did the Royal It’s a knockout. The charity shop was hawking the plate out for £2.50.

It still got me…

I was trying to find an old email in my archive when I came across this…

This riddle must be done IN YOUR HEAD and NOT using paper and a pen. Try it – it’s weird.
Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30. Another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000. Now add 10. What is the total?
(Scroll down for the answer)
Did you get 5000?

The correct answer is actually 4100. Don’t believe it? Check with your calculator! The brain sure knows how to play little tricks on us, doesn’t it?