Friday, April 29, 2011

all the queen's horses

Ah, alas, this isn't at all the picture that I wanted to post.   I intended to write about The Royal Wedding, indeed (though I hadn't anticipated that I'd be in a hotel in Durham NC with FOUR wedding parties who are sharing the space with five seminar participants), and I had taken, I thought, the perfect picture this morning, of the early morning sunlight streaming in on some still-to-be-packed things in the basement, including a copy of one of my favorite history books: Daphne Machin Goodall's The Foals of Epona, about the history of British horse breeds.   Only ... my camera must still be sitting in the front hall (together with other useful things, like my toileteries bag) - so dislocating was the experience of coming back from a cancelled flight yesterday, and heading back out again today ...

... though of course, that meant that I could watch It on BBC America.  And my favorite part, by far, was the horses - Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays pulling the carriages (the former not an actual breed, but the catch-all name given to the grey horses bred for the Royal stables), and the black horses of the Household Cavalry.   When I visited the Household Cavalry barracks with a Pony Club outing many decades ago, we were shown how the horses were trained to cope with crowds - so it was with some incredulity that I thought that I saw a loose one out of the corner of my eye ... but yes, there it galloped, having deposited its rider ...

As for the rest of it - hard not to think about the symbolism of Hats, whether it was Beatrice and Eugenie looking like - well, what?  Deer?  Medusa? or Samantha Cameron getting it entirely wrong and not wearing one.   Other than that, it was the Ruling Classes at play - apart from various foreign dignitaries, the only people - rephrase that: boys - of color seemed to be in the choir; and the only identifiable non-straight couple were, inevitably, Elton John and David Furnish (though one could speculate about some of the choir and the clergy ...).   I felt that all I'd been saying in the second half of the semester about Multi-Cultural Britain Today was - well, true of the Tube, but hardly worked for the new Mr and Mrs Windsor's nuptials.   All the same, I watched; and all the same, yes, I did find myself tearing up slightly, twice.   So what were these telling, symptomatic moments?   Once when the camera moved to the Queen (masquerading as a daffodil) standing stolidly whilst everyone else sang God Save the Queen; once when the Lancaster Bomber droned loudly overhead in the flypast.   From which I deduce that I am sentimental, but not for this particular wedding, but rather for a kind of version of England that really belongs - oh, probably back in the 1950s: what moved me was how historical my own past seems.

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