For the first time in a long time, I am longing for home. Just weeks ago I was talking to Amelia about how we could travel, live and work around the world pursuing our dreams for the forseeable future. Absence it seems, does not always make the heart grow fonder, especially when that absence is prolonged.
You forget things, you read the Daily Mail everyday and wonder “Why would I want to go back?”. I have to remind myself to take most articles I read with a pinch of salt, and not too seriously. But ultimately, I find myself hearing and reading about so much of the bad, that I often forget about all the good.
Fortunately, I was reminded of why I was one of the 60 million winners in the lottery of life this week. I remembered where my home is, my heart, and where all that I hold dear and believe in is. My senses have thankfully returned. Who do we have to thank for that?
It could only be Her Majesty the Queen of course.
I know she’s just a pleasant little old lady, and I know most of the time (in public at least) all she does is walk about, smile and wave at people.
So why, as a 23 year old, distinctly ordinary young man do I have such undying love and affection for a little old lady who isn’t my grandmother, comes from a totally different world, of a totally different era, who I have never even seen with my own eyes?
She symbolises the Britain of old. The nation that stood alone against tyranny in 1940, and fought for the freedom of mankind when all seemed lost. The Britannia that ruled the waves. The country that gave us Shakespeare, Churchill and the Beatles. Even Freddie Mercury. The island that gave the world Football, Democracy and the World Wide Web. The Kingdom where everybody respected everybody and you didn’t have to worry about locking your doors, The country our grandparents talked about so lovingly and nostalgically. The country I have grown up to love but was never able to experience.
Britain in 2012 is a world apart from Britain in 1952. Today we have the seemingly endless economic crisis, the rise of the East, political correctness gone mad, the perceived loss of our sovereignty to Europe. The age of austerity, atheism, and the Arab Spring. The loss of our military might. Reality TV, celebrity culture, and the iPhone. The me, me, me culture that only cares for their rights, and couldn’t care less about their responsibilities. The age of indifference and irrelevance.
I should probably try suing the Daily Mail for this, I hold them responsible. After-all, we are in the modern-day EUSSR. I’m sure there’s a law somewhere which can enable me to seek damages from them for their negativity.
Britain in 2012 may be far from perfect, and we all know that. But what we forget is that regardless of the current economic climate, various social issues and relative decline of our standing in the world – Britain is undoubtedly a better place now than it was in 1952. We’re richer, more tolerant, and healthier (although someone needs to do something about obesity – please). Society is considerably fairer (maybe a little ‘too fair’ at times), less elitist, less racist and probably more just.
Not to mention that with the rise of the internet and globalisation, we are probably more switched on and educated than at any other time in our history. Even if school leavers can’t distinguish between “There”, “Their” and “They’re”, who cares? They know who Joseph Kony is.
There’s been a lot of cynicism, negativity and division in the air. Let’s not go into all the finger wagging.
“The social inequalities seen today emanate from the days of Maggie, damn you Tory scum”
“Bliar and his cronies are responsible for bankrupting the nation”
Whatever. I’m not trying to play the blame game. I’m just saying how things seem to me from my laptop in South Korea. It’s frustrated me, and it’s pained me to see the country I so dearly love like that.
“Things weren’t like this in the good old days”
No, they probably were. People just didn’t have the platforms or means to vent their frustratons and complaints.
People have been doubting themselves, we’ve been wondering who we are, what we’re going to do, will things ever get better?
I’ve been asking myself recently, do I really ever want to go home and settle in the UK? Given the negativity and lack of opportunities?
If you’d have asked me last Friday, I probably would not have been able to answer. If you were to ask me now, my response would be an emphatic yes.
Because the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Queen helped to remind us who we are, where we’ve come from, and how we do things.
The celebrations reminded us of how there is no other country in the world with a history as colourful and illustrious as Great Britain’s. We remembered how we were, AND REMAIN a great nation and how we have a hell of a lot to be proud of. Few, if any, countries could put on a show like that.
The celebrations were classy, humble and modest. It was nothing like the extravagance of the opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but why did it need to be? As a nation we have very little to prove.
Nonetheless, the celebrations were awe-inspiring and unique. If you can show me a Republican Head of State who can garner a level of support, adoration and affection on the scale of Elizabeth II then I would say “Okay, let’s scrap the Monarchy”. But the point is, it’s quite apparent there is no other figure that can even come close to the esteem in which our Queen is currently held, there never has been, and it’s likely there never will be.
The images of people coming together to thank the Queen for her remarkable service and reign will stay long in the memory. I love my country, and I love nothing more than a spirit of community, togetherness, and Britishness. She goes across the barriers of class, race, political allegiance – all the traditional boundaries in which we divide ourselves – and unites virtually everybody. Nothing else, and nobody else, could do that. Except for perhaps England winning the World Cup. But I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon!
She is a shining example of respect, hard work, and self control. She provides hope, calm and stability in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world.
In a time of economic hardship, social upheaval, division, cynicism and negativity, she is the one who brings us together, unites us, and makes us proud to be British.
Her Majesty represents a large portion of what defines us as a nation. She epitomises what sets us apart from the rest of Europe, what makes us different. What makes us British.
If we didn’t have the monarchy, we’d be like France. And who would want that?
On a personal level, the pride I had always felt in being British was dealt a battering after last summers riots. The Diamond Jubilee has restored my pride and belief in our magnificent little island.
Thank you Your Majesty, for helping to remind me why I love home.
God Save The Queen