Sunday, November 27, 2005

God Save the Queen

According to last weekend's paper, Al Qaeda has a new target, and this time it's not the usual suspects such as hapless commuters, sun-seeking tourists, or meddling Western politicians. Instead, the unlikely individual caught in their crosshairs is 79-year old Queen Elizabeth.

While she's definitely made some questionable decisions in life, not the least of which was that unfortunate turquoise ensemble she wore to Ascot Day this year, does this diminutive English septuagenarian really merit being declared 'one of the severest enemies of Islam' by Al Qaeda in their recently released tapes regarding the July bombings?

I've rarely heard the poor woman utter a sentence, let alone voice an opinion, and the monarchy hasn't made or even influenced public policy since the early 18th century. With only figurehead 'powers' to rubber-stamp legislation and church appointments, why waste precious time going after Queenie when surely there are more important targets at hand? Or maybe not. Maybe this last, desperate grasping at straws signals that Osama is finally running out of steam. Well, if all else fails and his foot soldiers can't penetrate the likes of Her Majesty's Secret Service, he can always fall back on softer targets like, say, the Golden Girls, Barbara Bush or Miss Marple.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really hope your freelamce writing is more imaginative than this. Do you really think these are creative pieces? One could say they are somewhat well-written, but hardly creative and original?


7:01 PM  
Blogger The Reluctant Anglophile said...

Tina, thanks for your concern about my freelance writing career. I notice that someone linked my blog to a Britishexpat email thread populated by sullen, defensive Brits (now there's a stereotype that's still alive and well). If you don't like my blog, I have three words for you--Don't read it!

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans......what's not to like.
Seriously though,you want to be the stereotypical,ignorant,insular, deluded,
obnoxious,crass,shallow,ugly American.
Then you really are better off back in the land of the bland.
So do yourself a favour and take your ugly American self back to your backward,poverty stricken,insular,ignorant,rotten to the core,hated by the rest of the world country and stop polluting England.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I like RA's posts. You have an excellent writing style of which I am extremely jealous but you are sadly lacking research and accuracy. Unfortunately the Brits can see right through them. Also, you don't seem to have travelled outside NY too much by some of the surprises you find. To use an Americanism, you're puffing a touch too much for your home audience. And now the Brits in the US of A are taking an interest, expect lively reposts.

FB (a Brit stranded in the desert SW of the Land o' the Free)

5:21 AM  
Blogger Pupa said...

i love your writings...i'm very much of an anglophile really, but i love hearing different and somewhat quite justified opinions!!!

9:52 AM  
Blogger The Reluctant Anglophile said...

Thanks! I appreciate it--a beacon of non-defensiveness in a sea awash with daggers!

10:31 AM  
Blogger The Reluctant Anglophile said...

Thanks, collective Brits, for the "lively reposts", though in the future please note that all posts with no point other than to show off what is obviously a sad and misdirected talent of stringing together a Webster's Thesaraus of ripe adjectives in an effort to put someone down are going to be removed.

Today, however, I'm leaving up the post from "Anonymous" so that others can get a flavor of the local flora and fauna here in Britain (though that person is clearly bitter that they are an expat stuck in the States).

FB: Thanks for the insight and know that I certainly do work on being as accurate as possible--the truth is, I only call it like I see it. All of my posts come from my personal observations/
experiences, conversations with British people, or items in the newspaper, so are subjective based on what I see. I'm not claiming to be Christiane Amanpour (or for that matter, Judith Miller) here!

And while I've mainly lived in NY and London, I also lived in Chicago for 8 years but always in an apartment so was never charged for waste water there either. Though did I grow up in Wichita, KS, and it's highly possible we were charged for it there, I wasn't really concerned with paying the water bill at the ripe old age of 10, so I can't speak to the state of affairs there.


10:44 AM  
Anonymous FB said...

Back on topic, then.

I think you will find many anachronisms in your journey in Blighty, and there is not better one to start on than dear Brenda. You look at it as an outsider and cannot really contemplate the absurdity of the foreign custom and way of doing something, but the weirdest thing ever is to discover that it actually works – and sometimes it even works well!

Your main question of why she should be a target is no question at all, I’m afraid. She is famous and her assassination would be a great coup for everyone seeking such publicity.

One of her great successes is that you don’t hear from HM. Public figures in America are a superficial open book and we need to know, in short manageable chunks only of course, their favourite colour, preferred writers, and opinion on saving the Louisiana swamps. You never find this out about Brenda because she never tells. And this is really the only way she has managed to keep the monarchy from being sent to the wastelands.

But she does have some power and she certainly does use it. She has a regular ear-bending session with the PM and no notes are taken. Think how much this would cost you in “donations” in Washington! Also, she gets to call if there’s a tie in the election – though admittedly this hasn’t happened since the seventies.

One of the great advantages of having a monarchy is that the head of state can do the parades/dinners/handshaking stuff while the politicos can get on with their work directly without wasting their time on this stuff. It makes sense for efficiency. Many of the new democratic countries formed as a republic assign far less power to the president in terms of politics and use him/her in the ceremonial role of a monarch. I believe this route has much to commend it.

The Commonwealth is another area of influence where she works in the background to pave the way for favourable outcomes in foreign policy. Certainly seems a better way than marching in there with your big boots guns and getting all righteous when the locals turn against you!

My head and my beliefs look at this relic and say that this is not a system of government that would work or is logical for our age. But it is and it does. You might like to compare and contrast the way they do things there with the way they do things here. A good start might be the Lords and the Congress.


4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just don't get it yet do you? I don't know how long you've been in UK but you sound very homesick and you don't seem to understand life there, or maybe your self confessed reluctance at living there accounts for the bitter edge to your words.

The Queen is, of course, a bigger target than the President or Prime minister for that matter- she doesn't stand for Britain, she IS Britain.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tina is a whore

7:37 PM  
Blogger The Reluctant Anglophile said...

Hi FB,
Very interesting thoughts on the Queen and the monarchy, especially in regards to the efficiency factor (is Brenda a royal nickname? I haven't heard that one before). I know she has a weekly meeting with T., and I'm sure she makes her views known then, but it seems weird for even a figurehead to be so silent and impenetrable.

Taking your point, I can see how she would make a sensationalistic target, though it seems a bit incongruous to single her out as one 'one of the severest enemies of Islam', a charge I don't even recall being levelled at G.W.B., pre-Iraq, anyway...he was just lumped in as part of the evilness of the U.S. empire in general.

I will definitely look into doing a comparison of the Lords vs. Congress, though I will have to do a lot of reading up on that topic because to be honest, I find the whole British Parliamentary system totally opaque--the more I read, the more in the dark I usually end up.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous FB said...

Hi RA,

If you had understood the nickname Brenda, then you would truly have made much progress in comprehending the society in which you reluctantly live. I leave it as part of your homework to find the answer. Ask around and investigate – it is part of the learning process. When you’ve discovered it and started to understand the source from which it came, I believe it might merit its own blog entry. But do not expect to master its subculture on a cursory reading, and I would suggest a modicum of tentativeness rather than your usual style of total mastery when first discussing it.

On your other point of evil empire, yes the US has a terrible PR image. IMO, this is because they have difficulty with cultural awareness, unlike the place where you choose to live. How else could such a small nation have controlled, for example, India with such a small number of soldiers? The answer is by understanding how the people tick and how to get what you want out of them without offending them too much. Although I think US attempts at imperialism are bound to fail anyway because they are a century too late, the lack of cultural awareness is the more overriding factor in the guarantee that such endeavours will fail.

The Lords v. Congress should be an interesting one. On paper and without experience, the builder of a new nation using a fresh sheet of paper would undoubtedly plump for their senators. But in practice, I know which I believe does the better job of an upper chamber. Perhaps it only could work in the UK though because perhaps it needs the history and tradition and you couldn’t ever design it from scratch?


9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! what an amazing comeback!! well done;

'Tina, thanks for your concern about my freelance writing career. I notice that someone linked my blog to a Britishexpat email thread populated by sullen, defensive Brits (now there's a stereotype that's still alive and well). If you don't like my blog, I have three words for you--Don't read it!'

don't worry i'm sure I, and many others, will not bother to read it, it's only good for a laugh once. As it goes, I really like the US (as a british expat) and wonder why you feel that expats would be sullen? Is it because you didn't like it here, so you moved to the UK? I love the UK and the US, have noticed their many differences, but feel no need to continue the typical stereotypes many people make about americans. That kind of behaviour incites hatred between cultures, and i want no part of it.

And shame on you for not taking the critisism all writers face with more dignity.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. you must be proud to have people posting disgusting comments on your behalf. I see the kind of followers you get.

9:35 PM  
Blogger The Reluctant Anglophile said...

Unlike you, I don't derive my self-esteem from belittling people, which you'll no doubt eventually find to be a hollow pursuit. I also don't have the time to waste engaging in 'conversation' with someone who so clearly has nothing of value to contribute. Good to day to you.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Dear RA,

I see this article more than any other has raised the ire of the English. Contrary to what "tina" wrote, your writing achieves one of the main aims of a writer: to provoke thought, insight and conversation. Though some of the feedback has been rather crass and spiteful, it is none the less entertaining, and at times insightful to thoughts of the loyal subjects. Your weekly postings are a becon of light to us expats living abroad, though technically not an expat ( I am Canadian) I feel for your plight living in this god forsaken country. Yes we can all go back to where we came from, but as opposed to those religious fanatics that want to change this country into scarve wearing, Allah loving deciples, we want a positive change. We dont want to change the culture, we want a city where we can enjoy life along with our work. Sadly this is glaringly lacking in this city of London. We moan about transportation because nothing has been done about it since the last great fire, we moan about the weather as it is intollerably miserable at most times, and lastly we moan about the arogance of the English public at large.

When George Santayana said "Those that cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it", he did not mean it to the positive. There is this over reliance on the past successes of this nation that brings about its own ruin. I think that Karl Marx said it best .."History does nothing; it does not possess immense riches, it does not fight battles. It is men, real, living, who do all this".

RA keep up the good work...


8:32 AM  
Anonymous Doug Grad said...

Good grief, has everyone gone completely nuts? I mean, hello, can any of you discern a tongue in cheek anywhere in the RA's posts? Now maybe I'm biased in favor of RA because I used to be her boss. I know that she doesn't have a mean bone in her body, and that she's a very intelligent woman. (What? I'm going to hire a dope?) I also think she's a terrific writer. I would consider myself an Anglophile, although I've only spent 2 weeks in England in 1984, and my grandfather left London around 1920 (he served in the RFC and RAF in WWI as a radio operator, and then joined the merchant marine). All that aside, I like the sort of bumbling-through-a-foreign-culture take on life as seen through the eyes of a character that would be right at home on "Sex and the City." It's funny, it's light-hearted, and it's confused in the sort of way Gracie Allen used to be when George Burns would try to describe something to her. If people are taking her musings seriously, they need to a) lighten up, and b) take a look around them. Hell, RA could write the same column and call it "The Reluctant New Yorker," about the absurdities of life in NY (and as a life long New Yorker, they are plenty absurd). But one of the great things about most people is the ability to not take yourself too seriously, and to be able to laugh at life's little oddities. Would that column put off people? Of course there are plenty of cranky New Yorkers who might get all up in arms about it--but they also just might nod their heads and say, yeah, that's right, that is pretty strange. Or most likely, just ignore it and keep on walking fast--like if there was a car accident or, oh, a murder (just remember to step over the body, not on it).

As for the Queen being a target, it makes sense. But let's face it, Osama is dead and someone else is calling the shots now.


4:10 PM  

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