Jubilee Jigs

Apologies loyal readers (although by this stage I will be lucky if that is "reader") for my tardiness in posting recently... Things haven't eased off much since my last apology... But I've been stirred to return to my virtual sphere by the events on my doorstep today...
I've got a ticket for the big gig in Stormont today... although the fact that it is a family event and I've been given a single named ticket isn't making me that popular in the household... especially when, for various reasons (busyness, weather, back spasm) I'm reluctant to go... But given that the last time there was a jubilee visit to Northern Ireland I was one of the kids packed off to Coleraine to see the Queen, and on that occasion was one of those she spoke to on her walkabout (see photo), it would seem churlish not to go when it is so close at hand... Although due to the entrance restrictions I'm facing a significant route march to get into the Stormont Estate instead of the 2 minutes it usually takes me.
It's interesting to me the differences between that last jubilee visit and this one... Not only was I massively more enthusiastic (maybe it had something to do with the fact that the weather was sunny - but wasn't it always back then?), but the fact that the main event in 1977 was in Coleraine rather than in Belfast. Due to security concerns the Queen couldn't come to Belfast, she stayed on the Royal Yacht Britannia and was ferried across the province in one of the Royal flight of Wessex helicopters... The event I attended at Coleraine University, which for many was a symbol of Unionist mismanagement of the statelet of Northern Ireland, was delayed by a suspicious device thrown over the perimeter fence, though I and the thousands of other eager primary-aged royalists knew nothing of it.
Just over two years later the reality of the threat to the Queen was made apparent with the bombing of Lord Mountbatten's boat Shadow V off the coast of Sligo, resulting in his death and 3 others. The impact of this death on the royal family has been well documented. A number of times in recent days an episode involving the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret has been referred to. Shortly after the funeral of Lord Mountbatten, the Princess was at an event in America with the Mayor of Chicago, who had also been at the funeral, and was reported as saying "The Irish, they're pigs." This, in an ill-thought out piece of diplomatic whitewash, was then said to have been misheard, and that what the Princess said was "The Irish dance jigs..."
33 years on from that and 35 years from the last jubilee visit, things have changed radically, but the diplomatic jigs continue... 
The Queen's Flight of helicopters and the Royal Yacht Britannia have both been mothballed... but they would have been redundant anyway as the Queen stayed in Hillsborough overnight and she IS visiting Belfast today. She's actually visiting 3 of the major signs of hope in this city... Stormont, which has been transformed from the seat of protestant parliamentary power to an assembly for all; Titanic Belfast, which even for someone as antipathetic to the Titanic mythos as me, is clearly a world-class landmark building; and first of all the new Lyric theatre, which is not just a symbol of a new cultural vitality in the city, but a suitable site for all the drama scheduled to unfold there... In a carefully choreographed "jig" Martin McGuinness erstwhile second in command of the IRA and the Queen, the titular head of what some see as the British imperial establishment are to "shake hands"... I appreciate the symbolism and hope that it moves things on... but there are a couple of things that makes me feel embarrassed about it... On the one hand, it seems like something that would have happened in the primary school playground that I left behind before that jubilee visit in 1977... "Now shake hands and lets be friends..." And on the other, the lengths that have had to be gone to in order to allow Sinn Fein to make up for the embarrassment that their boycott of last year's Royal visit to Ireland, without being seen to be at anything to do with the Queen's jubilee... So the diaries of the Queen, the Irish President and Cooperation Ireland have have to be juggled so that Sinn Fein can save face, and the Lyric becomes a bizarre, jubilee-free bubble...
I've grown up a lot since 1977, but I'm not sure that we have politically. We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go...
And I've got a long walk to get into Stormont, so I'd better stop blogging and get going...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Woman of no Distinction

Advent Candle Liturgy 5: Christmas

An Epistle To Our Elected Leaders