Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Distinctly Vanilla Flotilla

I don't know what I was expecting really: the Mary Rose? an armada of proper-style Elizabethan galleons, all canons and rigging dripping with barnacles and seaweed and Russell Crowe? A few tea clippers, at least, surging down the Thames? Maybe The Golden Hind, broken free from its dry dock with Japanese tourists aboard?
And what did we get? Well, as far as I could make out through the mist and the wobbly long-distance view of the BBC cameras, we got Ben Fogle in a rowing boat.
Yes, the flotilla was underwhelming - at least for the home television viewer with their Sunday Times "boat identification wall chart" spread out before them on a miserable Sunday afternoon.
What I had imagined would be several happy hours of "Look! There's the Gypsy Moth" and "Gosh, is that really what Pugwash looks like now?" turned out to be 90 minutes of wondering whether Sophie Raworth was groping Matt Baker on the couch or the other way around.
Incidental views of the Queen in her light coat and Kate Cambridge Duchess Princess Thingy in her flimsy red dress only confirmed the suspicion that those royal women are pretty hard nuts.
Anyway, so the dreary disappointment of watching the "assorted flags of the Commonwealth" born by the Sea Scouts, sent me upstairs to the bathroom to shunt some stuff around and scrub the toilet. I told family members that should any impressive vessels appear I was to be called immediately. Needless to say, I spent a lot of the afternoon with the cream cleaner and a damp sponge.
Perhaps none of this would have been so bad if my expectations had not been raised. I swallowed the Jubilee propaganda whole - I'm ashamed to say. Local radio described it as a "Majestic Flotilla" before they had even seen it. We were encouraged to appreciate a sense of "history in the making".
I desperately wanted to be part of something. The thousands of people with their heads shoved up each others stinking armpits on the tubes were all desperate to be part of something. I might have felt the same disappointment with the concert on Monday, had I not accidentally fallen asleep during Elton John. I'm so glad I was spared another self-satisfied Paul McCartney retrospective as I snored into my woolly jumper.
I've been asking  myself, perhaps it was because I thought I could celebrate the Jubilee via the television that it all went wrong. Perhaps I needed to get a bit more stuck in. Perhaps I should have just got pissed a bit more?
But I'm not sure any of that is the case, I think it was simply over-sold. In these times of £1,000 overdrafts and redundancy panic, the nation needs something to distract itself, give itself a reason to crack open the Stella. The Government knows this too - surely a weekend of state-sanctioned revelry would fix things? If enough people bought union jack serviettes and paper cups from M&S maybe we could fix the economy in passing? Next up is the Olympics - but it is set to be a cold, unfeeling and corporate occasion for most of us, as we get ripped off and forced to pay by Visa for everything. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get the telly on.

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