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Queens and Anniversaries

I like my royalty in fairy tales and history books, but I have to admit I’ve little enthusiasm for, or interest in the real thing. I’ve more of a Cromwellian leaning shall we say, more a disciple of Liberté, égalité, fraternité so to speak.

Just because the venerable lady is old and has been in the job a long time doesn’t make her any more attractive to me, the royal family has as much relevance to me as I personally do to the Queen herself. I’ve absolutely nothing against the Queen or any of her family, they’re in a job which they didn’t ask for and they do it well enough, I wouldn’t want to sweep them aside in revolutionary fervour, they’re useful for tourism, a convenient figure-head, so they serve their purpose. But I don’t understand all the hysteria, nor why taxpayers should spend millions celebrating it all. She’s the one with the cash, she should pay for her own damned party. I wouldn’t ask taxpayers to pay for my birthday, or other anniversary. Often I really don’t feel very British at all!

I’m told that the country has warmed to the royal family since Diana’s death, but I was in Japan when that happened so none of the hysteria reached my corner of the world anyway. Diana was as remote to me as any other member of the royal family. It was sad news to hear, but of no relevance to my life in Tokyo. I’ve no idea what the royal family has done to re-establish themselves in the hearts of the British people because they were never in mine in the first place. So over this weekend of hysteria I’ve done my utmost to ignore everything about the Jubilee. I actually didn’t even know it was on this past weekend until it was broadcast on the radio on Saturday morning, that’s the absolute truth!

I detest idolatry and hierarchy in all it’s shape and forms, with an intense dislike of celebrities, fame for it’s own sake and so on. People should be respected for their talents and their achievements, so I save my respect for those who have talent and have actually achieved something that others can appreciate. It’s difficult to judge what the Queen has achieved or her talents, as it’s not as if she had to qualify for her job, we don’t have others to compare her performance against. I’ve yet to see her do anything for her people that warrants her and her family stripping us of our land or our taxes. As Michael Rosen very adequately points out, it’s a hierarchy established for so long, over so many generations, that we accept it as normal. But it’s not normal, in this day and age I don’t believe anyone has the right to privilege as a birth right.

I’ve actually found the whole Jubilee thing very easy to ignore as I’m overwhelmed with too many things on my plate right now, deadlines, house-hunting etc. I haven’t watched TV, no street parties around here that I know of, rain kept us indoors yesterday. I’ve seen a few union flags around and some merchandise in the local supermarket but that’s about it.

Hardback original cover from the 1982 edition

But wait a minute! I am celebrating an anniversary! 30 years ago this year I completed and saw published my first professional illustration job, the book Fatbag by Jeremy Strong, commissioned by Jill Coleman at A and C Black, (who’s still with the company!) for which I drew 30 or so black and white drawings and (admittedly awful) colour cover. It’s still on sale in it’s Puffin paperback edition, Nick Sharratt re-did the paperback cover, but my interior drawings are still there. My first ever illustration job, still on the shelves!

30 years as a freelance illustrator, and still going! Whahey! Now that’s worthy of a celebration. Maybe I should ask the government for some fireworks and a commemorative mug.

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