Someone Else’s Bunting

July 2012. A big month for London. Festivals and events and publicity for the Olympic Games everywhere you look. ‘2012’ logos and Union Jacks plastered on even the most tenuous of products. Posters for the West End musical Billy Elliot have been adjusted to describe it as ‘The Great British Musical’. Similarly, a revival of Joe Orton’s What The Butler Saw has a huge Union Jack as its background, playing up the Swinging Sixties feel but clearly nodding to the general pushing of Britishness this summer.

It seems that Jubilee Union Jack flags also double as Olympic flags, even though the latter event is rather more international. I find the implied message vague and wonder: if the Jubilee hadn’t coincided with the Olympics, would such bunting still be out for the Games?

The bunting found nearest to my door was for the Jubilee street party in Highgate Avenue, stretched all along the road between the street lamps. After the Jubilee weekend it was mostly taken down, which made sense. Which baffles me now, however, is that some traces of the bunting are still there now, a few sorry strings left hanging from the road signs at either end, bedraggled and drenched in the rain. Perhaps this is a sign, too: a tribute to a very British lack of wanting to let something go. Or of hoping someone else will finish a job for you.

There’s a stepladder in my hall. I might do it myself. Put the dying bunting out of its misery.

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My sole summer booking is this Friday 6th: I’m DJ-ing for the Last Tuesday Society’s ‘Orphanage Masked Ball’, in Adam Street. More details here.

Later this month I’m visiting my parents on their holiday in Southwold for three days. I’ve also been invited to a wedding in South London at the end of August. Oh, and I have an outpatient appointment to test for food allergies before that. That’s pretty much my Olympic Summer 2012.

Which suits me fine, really. I have a long reading list of books to take notes on for the Autumn term, and I’m not the fastest of readers as it is.

I have two university announcements still to wait for, though. On Monday 9th I find out which of the optional modules I’ve been allocated for the 2nd year. It’ll probably be either ‘Fin De Siecle’ (Wilde, HG Wells, Dracula), or ‘Narratives Of The Body’ (connecting Virginia Woolf’s Orlando to the film Blade Runner)Either would suit me. As soon as I know, I can get on with the reading.

Most importantly, though, this month I’ll receive my mark for the exam, and have my final marks confirmed for the whole of the first year. The date of this result is officially known as ‘before the end of July’. I’m taking this to mean late July in general. Only then will I feel able to properly mark the end of my first year as a born-again student.


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Don’t Touch The TV People

Some unrecorded recent activity.

27 May: I attend the BAFTA TV awards at the Royal Festival Hall. Ms Sarah D has tickets to the public gallery, and I’m curious, so I go.

The public ticket holders get to walk the red carpet on the way in, though in this instance the carpet is a red, white and blue jigsaw pattern, which as someone points out looks the opening credits to Dad’s Army after a bad drug trip. The public attendees are asked to arrive before the proper guests, and then are kept upstairs in a kind of apartheid section. There’s a separate balcony bar and stewards preventing you from going downstairs into the main stalls area, in case – shock horror – you dare to speak to the scriptwriter of The Fades. Don’t touch the TV people!

But even famous names are not necessarily famous faces. On getting his award for writing and directing This Is England ’88, Shane Meadows makes a semi-jokey comment that no one asked for his autograph on the red carpet.  It’s funny how the BAFTAs mix this British take on Oscars glamour, celebrating the celebrated, with giving the actual awards to non-famous creative types. People in the public gallery shout and scream when Sherlock‘s  Benedict Cumberbatch comes on with Doctor Who’s Matt Smith (to present the head writer of both shows, Steven Moffat, with a special award), but otherwise most of the awards are for less well known programmes like Appropriate AdultRandom, Borgen and The Fades. Then there’s awards for harrowing documentaries (like the Terry Pratchett euthanasia report), followed by ones for mindless drivel like Celebrity Juice, which baffingly beats Sherlock to the You Tube Audience Award. Still, that’s the variety of television. What makes it worthwhile is seeing what makes the televised version and what doesn’t.  Terry Pratchett and Stewart Lee in particular have their speeches cut down, and one wonders who decides such things, and what their rules are.

They give you special BAFTA chocolates, in the shape of the trophy:

photo by Paul @bitoclass on Twitter

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Weekend of June 2nd: more celebrations where some people are marked out as intrinsically better than others: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Four days of it: Saturday to Tuesday. On the one rain-free day I attend a street party across the road in Highgate Avenue, and meet some of my neighbours for the first time since I moved here. Which was eighteen years ago. The street is closed off, there’s trestle tables with drinks (I do my bit and add a bottle of wine) and there’s the ubiquitous Union Jack bunting dangling from street lamps. Small girls play hopscotch in the road, which is covered with chalk scribbles. It all looks very 1950s, till one reads some of the words the children write on the tarmac: ‘RIHANNA‘.

On the flotilla day there’s lots of people on the tube in soggy ponchos and Union Jack bowler hats, looking drenched yet perfectly happy. Some of my more republican friends find the Jubilee nauseating and in bad taste (particularly in a recession), and some even move out of the city till it’s all over. In my fence-sitting way, I inwardly support the republicans’ point, but I also recognise that plenty of people like the Jubilee events. I find myself enjoying the spectacle of the flotilla of boats (particularly the bit with the War Horse puppet on the National Theatre roof), and I love the  fireworks show at the end of the big pop concert (writing that, I sound like I’m the Queen’s age myself. I might as well be).

Where do I draw the line? I suppose it’s at the moment where someone at the street party asks me – very nicely – if I’d like a little Union Jack tattoo put on the side of my face.

No. Thank you, but no. I suppose that’s the limit of my tolerance for anything. Facial decoration.


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