So, I was reading the other day as to how when the Queen finally shuffles off this mortal coil, we’ll get two extra bank holidays: one for the funeral, one for the coronation of her successor. Which means that we’ll have to hope that she pops her clogs during the Summer so that we’ll have the best chance of being able to fully enjoy these extra days off. That said, the sad fact is that most elderly people tend to snuff it during the Winter months – it’s the cold that gets them. Still, I doubt that Her Majesty will have any difficulty affording the heating bills for Buckingham Palace, so we might get lucky. I know, I know, I really shouldn’t be looking at the death of the monarch simply as a chance to get a couple of days off – but we’ve got to seize these opportunities when they come. Let’s not forget that we were cheated out of a day off when they decided to hold Princess Diana’s funeral on a Saturday. That said, on that day, I did make the most of the empty roads to drive down to the New Forest in record time, (which included ‘doing the ton’ on that bit of dual carriageway as you leave Romsey, I like to think of it as being my special tribute to the deceased Diana: The Princess Diana Memorial Speed Run). Apparently, one of the other things which will happen when the Queen finally snuffs it is that, between the announcement of her death and the funeral, the BBC will broadcast no comedy. How will we be able to tell the difference?
Obviously, back in the pre-digital age, when we only had the terrestrial TV channels, the death of some national figure meant that all the normal schedules would be suspended and we’d be forced to watch sombre tributes on every channel for days on end. Indeed, I remember that when Princess Diana died on a Saturday night, I awoke the next morning to find every radio station playing sombre music and every TV channel seemingly simulcasting the same news reports. It was a bloody relief when Channel Four broke ranks and returned to its regular schedules late in the morning: I never thought that I’d be glad to see an episode of The Waltons. But from then until the funeral, most TV and radio became respectful and bland. Any film involving a car crash was yanked from the schedules, nothing with swearing in it was allowed. I recall how the DJs on Radio One weren’t allowed to banter as normal, they just played the blandest possible records and made uncontroversial comments about the weather in between them. But nowadays, with the plethora of digital channels on offer, I really don’t see many of them suspending their normal schedules in the event of the Queen’s death. I can just see Dave announcing, on the day of the funeral, its special tribute to Her Majesty in the form of back-to-back episodes of QI in which Stephen Fry and Alan Davies make sexual innuendo-fueled jokes about her. Perhaps Quest could give us the Queen Elizabeth commemorative Wheeler Dealers marathon, culminating in a new episode where they buy and restore a Daimler like the Queen’s – which Mike Brewer then makes a small loss on when he tries to flog it. The possibilities are endless.
That’s the thing about our modern media – it is so diversified that it is effectively undermining the whole concept of a ‘mainstream’. Time was that at times of national crisis everyone would turn to the BBC as the ‘official’ voice of authority. It was looked to for reassurance – the even tones of its announcers and newsreaders making us feel secure with their matter-of-fact announcements. Nobody doubted the authority or veracity of what they were told on the BBC. Why would they? It wasn’t as if there was any real alternative to compare its pronouncements to: the print press were all partisan and the rival ITV network’s news service, ITN, was simply a slightly less formal version of BBC news, presenting the same facts but in a slightly more relaxed and populist style. Nowadays there are a multiplicity of competing news sources readily available to the population at large. So, when Her Maj finally turns her toes up, the BBC and ITV might well come over all reverential, they won’t be able to dictate the mood of the nation, as every other bit of the media will undoubtedly carry on as normal, just as they tend to do at Christmas these days. I’m sure that QVC and the other shopping channels will have hours of ‘falling auctions’ of Queen Elizabeth II memorabilia on the day of her funeral, when it inevitably comes to pass.
Mind you, I’m somewhat surprised that the powers-that-be have divulged the information that the monarch’s death will result in two ad hoc bank holidays. After all, we’re actually short on public holidays in the UK, enjoying far fewer than our fellow EU members (another reason, no doubt, that those Brexit bastards want us out of the EU so badly – anything to prevent the average working man from having some extra leisure time). They must, surely, have considered that making such knowledge public might encourage assassination attempts on the Queen by some members of the holiday hungry lower classes. I mean, two extra bank holidays – who wouldn’t be prepared to kill for a couple of extra days off? The only other way we’re going to get them is if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister and fulfils his 2017 election manifesto promise for extra bank holidays. So, assassination poses a real risk. Obviously, if and when we do get these extra bank holidays, we’ll have to be careful that the bastards don’t try cheating us again. Let’s not forget the Golden Jubilee, when were supposed to get a double bank holiday to commemorate Her Maj’s fifty years on the throne. In reality, we only got the one – the other was provided by moving one of the existing May bank holidays. Moving it, incidentally, to a miserable rainy day that nobody could enjoy, while the day it should have occupied was beautiful and sunny, but couldn’t be enjoyed because we were all at work. As ever, it’s the ordinary working people who get stiffed.
On that note, it’s time to wrap up another editorial. So, until the next time, keep it sleazy. And no assassinating heads of state for extra holidays.