The Queen 1926 – 2022

Last Thursday, September 8th, 2022, for one brief unreal moment, the world gasped, and we all tried to figure out what we were feeling.  Elizabeth II had died.  It was that simple — yet completely unnatural.  For every person on this planet (and that’s not an exaggeration) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was the Queen.  She was not a queen, one of many queens, although there are still many queens in the world.  She was The Queen – universally recognized.  This is partially to do with the enduring power of the British monarchy – nearly 2,000 years old – but mostly it’s to do with the Queen herself.  For over seventy years she studiously cultivated her position in the world.

In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, Britain was still an imperial power.  Winston Churchill, who had served Queen Victoria, was the Prime Minister of Britain and Harry S Truman, a haberdasher from Missouri, was President.  He was the last President who did not have a university degree.  Joseph Stalin, a peasant from Georgia, was the ruthless master of the Soviet Union, and Chairman Mao, a librarian from Hunan, ruled China.  Joe Biden was 10 years old but Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Liz Truss weren’t even born yet.

People wrote letters to each other.  Telephones were attached to the wall, and long distance calls were an event.  People still sent telegrams.  In 90% of the British Commonwealth (as it was called) television was an intriguing rumour.  Most people didn’t fly, and great distances were covered in boats and trains.

Computers were electronic monsters that filled whole rooms with their whirring and buzzing.  They were run by geniuses and mountains of hole-punched paper cards.

In 1952, the majority of Queen Elizabeth’s British subjects earned (in American dollars) less than $250.00 per month.  Fresh fruits and vegetables were outrageously expensive out of season, and there was no such thing as fast food.

In 1952, walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction; Sir Edmund Hillary hadn’t even walked on Mount Everest.  Although transistors had been invented by Bell Laboratories in 1947, it would take Sony, a Japanese company that didn’t exist yet, three more years to commercially market the Transistor Radio.

In 1952, Queen Elizabeth was Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” and nobody thought that sounded strange.

In 1952, automobiles didn’t have seatbelts.  Cyclists didn’t wear helmets, and consumer products didn’t come with warning labels.  There were repair shops for household items.  Doctors made house calls, and lawyers didn’t advertise.

In 1952, the world was halfway through the 20th century.  The good old days were vanishing and our contemporary society was just being born.

It is a testament to Her Majesty that, despite the upheavals of a world that now seems to be spinning faster than most of us can understand, she maintained an unassailable dignity. For over seventy years, she represented the best of what we are supposed to be.  Quietly and continually, she did what was expected of her, not perhaps what she herself wanted to do.  She spent a lifetime dedicated to her task — without comment or complaint or the flares of ego so common these days.

Few, if any, institutions have survived intact from 1952.  They’ve all been swept away by history.  Yet, Queen Elizabeth II (even in death) remains The Queen.

The Future of YouTube

In the future, when archeologists mine our computer data, they will eventually run across YouTube and when they do, they’re going to come to some interesting conclusions about life in the early 21st century.  Here are just a few examples.  (In no particular order.)

Half of all Russian drivers had dash cameras and the other half were drunk.

The tattoo industry was basically illiterate.

Our society was obsessed with puppies, kittens and fat people falling over.

Stairs were dangerous, trampolines were dangerous but the most dangerous thing of all were stripper poles.

It was common practice to scare the crap out of people – friends, neighbours, total strangers.

Construction workers were idiots.

Every man on the planet was nailed in the crotch by a ball, a bat, a rock, a pole, a stick, a croquet mallet, a hot beverage, a flying piece of fruit or some other heavy item — at least once.

The number of skateboarders who attempted suicide was astronomical.

Grown men spent their lives looking for mistakes in movies.

Taylor Swift was part of the problem.

Kanye West had only one song.

Millions of people spent millions of hours watching men doing various activities with a variety of balls.

No one could get through an entire day without mentioning Trump.

People made all sorts of things out of used plastic bottles and old toilet rolls – but they were totally useless and looked like they were made out of used plastic bottles and old toilet rolls.

Western religion was based on celebrities and babies.

Bikinis made women stupid.  Men started out that way.

People worried about zombies a lot more than they did nutrition.

Accidents, catastrophes and natural disasters were spectator sports.

Marriage proposals were publicly staged and elaborately planned.

Wedding, yearbook and family photos were objects of ridicule.

But actually:

Despite all their research, future archeologists are never going to be able to figure out who was filming all this stuff or why.

Top 10 Jokes of 2022

If you take the world seriously (which I haven’t for some years now) there’s enough going wrong these days that even optimists are getting the Windex out to clean their rose-coloured glasses.  Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse – they did.  People are starting to read Kafka for laughs and Cormac McCarthy is beginning to look downright light-hearted.  However, rather than dwell on the obvious let’s stop for a moment, pour a beverage and relax.

Remember, August is that time of year when the local folks of Edinburgh rent their houses out for mucho dinero and bugger off to Spain; chased out of their town by the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  For those of you who’ve never heard of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, that’s too bad because it’s the greatest mish-mash of all-things-considered in the world.  The Edinburgh Fringe is actually several coexisting arts festivals that run amok, day and night, through the streets of Edinburgh for the entire month of August.  It was started in the late 1940s by some university students, and even though it’s become internationally huge, it still maintains its undergraduate Alphagetti-for-breakfast air.

One of the biggest parts of The Fringe is comedy; some good, some bad, some awful.  And even though humour has been outlawed by the woke crew the Fringe keeps plugging away.  And after a Covid hiatus, it has produced a Top Ten list of the funniest jokes of the Festival.  This is this year’s offering.  So, as the world continues to spin, tune out for a second and remember we’re still the funniest species on the planet.

1. “I tried to steal spaghetti from the shop, but the female guard saw me and I couldn’t get pasta” – Masai Graham

2. “Did you know, if you get pregnant in the Amazon, it’s next-day delivery” – Mark Simmons

3. “My attempts to combine nitrous oxide and Oxo cubes made me a laughing stock” – Olaf Falafel

4. “By my age, my parents had a house and a family, and to be fair to me, so do I – but it is the same house and it is the same family” – Hannah Fairweather

5. “I hate funerals – I’m not a mourning person” – Will Mars

6. “I spent the whole morning building a time machine, so that’s four hours of my life that I’m definitely getting back” – Olaf Falafel

7. “I sent a food parcel to my first wife. FedEx” – Richard Pulsford

8. “I used to live hand to mouth. Do you know what changed my life? Cutlery” – Tim Vine

9. “Don’t knock threesomes. Having a threesome is like hiring an intern to do all the jobs you hate” – Sophie Duker

10. “I can’t even be bothered to be apathetic these days” – Will Duggan