I’m not sure this is my regular crowd.
People hiss and shout for her to move out of the way.
We are thirty floors above the Thames and a balding helicopter pilot and his dangerously thin wife have just appeared a few miles upstream.
Everyone cheers at the screen. This is definitely not my regular crowd. The main one hasn’t even shown up yet! What are they going to do when she does? Throw their middle-aged underwear at the TV? (Ye gods, I hope not. These windows are too thick to jump through.)
Inevitably the alleged interdimensional lizard and single-biggest landowner on earth does indeed arrive. The woman sharing my seat has driven up from Cornwall to see the Queen because she considers herself “very patriotic”.
Leaving aside the fascistic overtones of the term, I would (usually) describe myself as pro-British and even pro-English, while also going to great pains to be -for want of a less annoying term- a Good Global Citizen.
But there is something vaguely troubling about my fellow guest conflating positive national sentiment with allegiance to a monarch.
Surely the Republican protesters down by Tower Bridge consider their actions to be in the best interest of the country as well?
And, honestly… I’m not sure the woman sitting next to me would see their actions in the same light.
This then, is my Jubilee Revelation.
We all have an annoying and ultimately unavoidable habit of normalising our own worldview… which abnormalises other ones. We may be doing the exact same thing but the words attached are worlds apart.
Chatting to Jason about some of the comments he received on his chaos magic posts, I’m frankly amazed at the bizarre, straw man arguments and vitriol heaped on chaos magic.
We can have a Victorian fantastist order turn septic and collapse in on itself before the very eyes of the blogosphere with nary a criticism but no… chaos magic clearly involves invoking Donald Duck in preference to Hermes.
To which I say “haaaaaave you met Jack?”
There have been a lot of magic blogs in my reader for a lot of years. Have a look back through your own.
Magical folk, over the space of a few months, will swing wildly from diasporic hoodoo to tantra to runic invocation to Christianity to alchemy to goetia to plain, ol’ colour correspondence and back again.
To my eyes this looks suspiciously like “my kind of patriotism” and yet there isn’t a Disney character in sight. (Although technically there are quite a few princesses.)
Seriously… if you have a magic blog, read back over it. Then tell me what chaos magic “is”.
It came up during the shen but there are a number of reasons there hasn’t been a response to Jason’s “post” chaos magic posts…. principal among them is the fact that I am actually the least qualified to comment about “post” chaos magic in the same way my fellow guest knows nothing about “post” monarchy. I’ll let you know when I get there. Because, at the moment this channel is all chaos all the time.
As we are queueing to get into Millbank Tower, one of my accompanying friends turned and said “this is slightly unusual for you, isn’t it? Surely you’re not a Royalist?”
Which is a good question.
Hand on heart, I do happen to think Queen Elizabeth II is a unique figure in world political history and 60 years in that damn job is genuinely worth mustering a few boats.
(Sidebar: it was only last year that she made it ‘official’ that Wills and Kate’s first kid -if they have a daughter- will be heir to the throne. This amuses me because, by some margin, the three best monarchs we’ve ever had have been chicks.)
But beyond that?
Well, you see, I’m a pragmatist first, and then everything else second. If pressed for a definition, I would reiterate that chaos magic is the realpolitik of the gods.
My attitude toward the Crown is in the literal sense extremely ambivalent. Yes, the existence of a monarchy in a democratic society is indefensible. Few people lining the Thames would argue the point.
There are, however, two additional points to consider.
- Yes, they are expensive but they are unquestioningly revenue positive. Not just in terms of tourism but in terms of British ‘soft power’.
- As David Mitchell points out, it’s truly impossible that we would come up with a better system with which to replace it. No one yet has.
That second point gets to the crux of everything in this post. Earlier in the year, a visiting kiwi friend earnestly asked how the British continue to countenance being ruled by a monarch.
My response was that they countenance it in the same way they countenance a poorly-maintained, 135-year-old public transport system running their capital. There is a ‘fuzziness’ to British expectations that as long as things more-or-less rattle along in the approximate direction of their goals then that’s mostly-okay for now.
And so it is with monarchs and magical worldviews.
As we are packing up to leave Millbank Tower, I find my new Cornish friend to say goodbye. She says “it was lovely to meet you and long live the Queen.”
Long live the Queen, indeed.