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So farewell then, Queen Ma....

... as Private Eye would say.

Long time, no update. Laziness kicking in. Also, my dad was ill again so I was a bit busy. (He's okay, as it turns out there was a nasty problem with his medication rather anything with serious consequences)

Also, I moved jobs again.

Also the Queen Mother popped her clogs. Ye gods and little fishes. It has been busy.

The death of the Queen Mother has been this sort of standard joke in newspapers for as long as I can remember -- not in the sense of wishing ill on a fairly harmless old duck with a powerful service ethic, more in the sense of dreading being at work that day, since it would mean so much hassle.

Every newspaper I have worked at has had a set of obituary pages set out for the QM, and as it happens, ours were updated a fortnight ago. I work (worked) on a Sunday newspaper, which means that we only have one main deadline for news, which is 5.30pm. Given that fact, the odds against announcing the death of a major public figure within an hour of that deadline are pretty damned good.

It was announced at just past 5pm. Everyone sort of wandered around the office in a daze. The conversation went something like this:

PERSON A: You'll never guess what
PERSON B: You're right I won't. I'm kind of busy. Sod off.
A: The Queen Mother has died
B: What, NOW? 45 minutes before deadline? You're winding me up.
A: No, straight up. Check the wires
[Person B checks the wires]
B: Bloody hell. I'm never going to get home, am I?

It's hard to describe the atmosphere thereafter without saying something totally disrespectful, so I won't. No one wished her ill personally, but I work with a lot of cynical, republican bastards who are very, very funny, if sick.

At the moment, The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror are railing at our lack of respect because we (the British public, that is) are not queueing up en masse to sign books of condolence or wearing black during the nine-day mourning period, but really, it's sunny out and she had a good innings and we have lives to lead and families of our own.

The Daily Mail was still going on about it as of yesterday. What the hell are they saying? What news is there? ["Queen Mother Day Four: Still dead shock"] Of course, a cynic would say that the Daily Mail still wants to sell copies of its 32-page memorial supplement because they are rightwing money-grubbing scum.

I used to be a republican bastard myself but I'm much less republican than I used to be. I used to want to abolish the monarchy with a kind of messianic fervour; these days I am not so sure.

In principle I remain convinced that it is a profoundly anti-democratic institution which acts as a symbol of many of the things which are repugnant about our society (hereditary privilege, class distinctions, conspicuous consumption) but I think that we should only abolish something if we have a rational plan for structures to replace it.

The half-arsed semi-abolition of the House of Lords as a hereditary law-making institution and its replacement by a second chamber of peers has done little to further the advancement of the cause of democracy, given that it concentrated power further in the hands of the Prime Minister and a non-elected group of hasbeen politicians and kleptocrats from the business world. It's a false sort of meritocracy. Scratch the surface and its the same old people in power.

And Mr Blair already abuses the power he has, thank you very much.

So, while I think that having a royal family is A Bad Thing, the fact is that:
(1) we have one already and kind of missed the boat on the whole guillotining thing;
(2) the ones we have are not so bad really, well-meaning but cold by upbringing, and they carry out a lot of civic duties;
(3) they bring in the tourists and add a little pomp and circumstance to official occasions;
(4) we get an extra day's holiday for important state occasions. Whoo.
(5) the thought of President Blair (or President Thatcher for that matter, before she went all whirly-eyed and fruitloop) makes me want to heave. We simply don't have the kind of constitutional checks and balances that would prevent abuse of a presidential position;
(6) royalty makes my mum happy

Next: why fox-hunting is repugnant but banning it is an act of class-based spitefulness and cheap, wilful misdirection by a government which is desperate to win the votes of young, disillusioned trendys, rather than a conscious moral decision. News at 11!

Nah. I have bored enough for today. I must switch off the internet and go out and play in the sunshine.

* * *

I was going to leave this as a comment on Double_Helix's journal but it sort of grew, so I thought "bugger it's not going to fit". I'd like to thank her for making me think about stuff.

Wow, did people really loathe Wrecked that much? Because yes, anvils falling! Falling everywhere! but I'd much rather have that than nothing happening in an anodyne fashion. Really. Give me "Wrecked" over "Doublemeat Palace" any day

I wish I could remember the name of the other ep that I am thinking of, but it had the geek troika in it and nothing much happened. The Xanya was the same repetitive crap as ever (and God am I looking forward to the wedding ep here because at least they will STOP TALKING about the damned wedding except in that lovely car-crash way) Buffy and Spike were boinking (loadsaskin, you're so destructive for me, I hate you yadda yadda) and Willow was all "I'm on the magic crack but I can haa-aa-aa-ndle it" (<---- sorry, channelling old smack advert from British TV)

My God, I have never been so glad to see the credits turn up so I could watch Angel. (which was the 'Darla gives birth' ep that week and I liked that as well. I feel oddly compelled to add "So there" here )

I know that MN can be honkingly obvious and yes, "Into The Woods" isn't my favourite either, but I thought Wrecked was okay.

I think the magic as addiction metaphor can work if you see magic = drugs without the filter that we're all brought up with in which drugs are trumpeted by the authorities as "bad bad BAD BAD! Evil! Stay away!" while they rake in revenues from other drugs such as alcohol and nicotine; and in which pop stars and others sniff the Colombian talc and pretend they are eversonaughty. By making drugs emblematic of transgressive behaviour, they have made them attractive to any rebel with cash to burn.

*cough* not wishing to sound like a sad old hippy...

If you see drugs as a tool (and I was reading in the New Scientist this week that there is growing evidence that the use of drugs was one of the evolutionary advantages of humans -- it enabled them to survive in climates which would otherwise have proved too harsh to sustain life) then the metaphor works just fine.

Drugs such as hallucinogenics can open doors to new ways of thinking, just as magic can alter the everyday world, right wrongs or counter powerful "alien" forces from the demon dimensions in the Buffyverse. But if you start to overuse the power, to attempt to lose yourself in it or to utilise it for trivialities then it becomes all-consuming and addictive.

I think the main problem with the magic=drugs metaphor was its presentation, given the "war on drugs" (to follow: "the war on windmills!") It only works if you see drugs as a powerful but neutral thing, neither cool nor bad, which can be used in many ways.

If Giles had been there, I can't help but think the season could only have been about 12 eps long because Giles would have spotted Buffy's absence with Spike and he would sure as hell have spotted Willow's descent into abuse of magic. I imagine he followed a pretty similar pattern himself.

After all, if someone could summon a demon as a young man and was possessed of as much knowledge as Giles, then why wouldn't he attempt magic himself? Unless of course, he had to stay away from magic because he couldn't haa-aa-aandle it.

Maybe they have a 12-step program, one element of which is "wear lots of tweed and drink industrial amounts of tea".

*sigh* I miss Giles. A lot.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2002 06:08 am (UTC)
and a non-elected group of hasbeen politicians and kleptocrats from the business world.

So, like the U.S., then....

As for Willow and the Anvils of Addiction, what bothered me is that the storyline had originally been going in a much more interesting direction. What I loved about the original abuse-of-power angle was all the complicated things that it said about Willow's personality. Here she is, so meek and so nice, and yet she has this *huge* blindspot about other people's rights. Is it hubris -- does she think that she's so smart that she can decide what's good for people better than they can themselves? Is it revenge -- does she take delight in manipulating people in exchange for the way that she has let herself be bossed around for her whole life? Is it fear and pain -- does she at heart believe that she is so worthless and insignificant that even the people she cares most about will never voluntarily stick around to meet her needs? Or is it all of these things at different times?

So they're ramping up for their most interesting exploration of Willow ever... and then they just drop it. Magic suddenly becomes this drug-like high, and the only damage her friends seem to be worried about is the incidental damage she causes in pursuit of the high (like Dawn getting hurt in the car accident). But what happened to the much greater (and more interesting) *intentional* damage she did to people? When she hurt Tara, it wasn't just some side effect of Willow being "unable to stop herself" -- the magic had the very specific purpose of doing a very bad thing to Tara. The damage was the end in itself.

TV and movies give us few enough explorations of women and power, and this one had the potential to be unusually rich and complex, and instead they threw it away for some storyline that every teen-related show does in some form or another sooner or later, and it's not even necessary that it be about Willow -- there's nothing of her personality in the "addiction". It's just an illness-like problem that could have been foisted on anyone.
Apr. 3rd, 2002 07:15 am (UTC)
Yes! Right! Exactly! I was all gearing up for the fascinating "hubris of willow" classical tragedy thing, and then they had to do it like this. Instead of it being about Willow abusing her power, it becomes about Willow being a junkie. She could have become the new supervillain, maybe starting out with ideas of, say, re-opening the hellmouth in order to close it for good, or some such thing- and Willow-as-the-bad-guy would have a power and resonance we haven't really seen in our bad guys since Angelus. It would have been all the more terrible because she would have been convinced that she was RIGHT, that she was doing everything for their own GOOD, and they would agree with her if they just weren't so short-sighted. It could have been fantastic.

Instead, we get treated to months of Junkie!Willow. Sigh.

Farewell, Megalomanical Evil Willow Of My Dreams. We never knew ye.

Hmph. Dale and I had an idea for a Megalomaniacal Evil Willow story back in the day. Maybe I should write it anyway, as an AU.
Apr. 3rd, 2002 07:27 am (UTC)
Yes, you're absolutely right, given how much Restless revealed how Willow was still haunted.

But since this is the way they've chosen to do it, and surely it's too interesting an avenue to explore to just drop, I can only assume that the magic=drug is a big fakeout done badly and they're keeping their powder dry for a final season assault in which Willow becomes the new big bad after a relapse, then comes to realise that her abuse of magic is not something which just happened to her, but rather an outcome of her own insecurities. With Willow as grasshopper and Giles as her zen master

Or, you know ... not. Maybe it will just disappear in a disappointing fashion, like I hear Riley's vamp weirdness did.

I await the showing of As You Were with bated breath. [/sarcasm] *g*
Apr. 3rd, 2002 07:47 am (UTC)
"Popped her clogs!" I love it! I always forget about that one, so every time you say it, it sends me into gales of giggles.

Well, it would if I had a voice back yet. *grumble*

Apr. 3rd, 2002 10:22 am (UTC)
I'm glad you're okay and your dad is (relatively) okay.
Apr. 3rd, 2002 04:16 pm (UTC)
2 cents from the other side of the pond
At the moment, The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror are railing at our lack of respect because we (the British public, that is) are not queueing up en masse to sign books of condolence or wearing black during the nine-day mourning period, but really, it's sunny out and she had a good innings and we have lives to lead and families of our own.

Good innings, indeed. And she was really the only one most US citizens really liked. Back in September I thought of her presence in London during WWII in contrast with Dubbya circling the skies on Air Force One.

It's not like when Princess Diana died, when we all thought "what a shame, just as she was coming into her own." The Queen Mum (I'll miss that loving title most of all, frankly) certainly had a full and useful life. She's earned her rest.
Apr. 3rd, 2002 04:33 pm (UTC)
Re: 2 cents from the other side of the pond
And she was really the only one most US citizens really liked. Back in September I thought of her presence in London during WWII in contrast with Dubbya circling the skies on Air Force One.

Really? I thought America enjoyed the whole nightmarish soap opera-ness of it.

But that remark about the QM is interesting. There was a telling part of one of the long obituaries about her. When the war was on, she and Bertie, the king, whose health was frail, were determined to stay in London with their people. She went to the East End, then as now the poorest, toughest most violent part of London. She was dressed in her finest heels, jewels, pretty dress, because, she told her advisers, it would give the people a boost to see her looking pretty as if things were just normal.

Of course, they threw things at her, thought she was flaunting her good fortune and wealth as they were being bombed out of their houses every night. Instead of quitting, she gritted her teeth and went back and back. When the palace was bombed, she was part-grateful. She said: "Now we all stand together."

For that she won a great deal of respect.

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