Figures of Speech HOME

Home | 2018

Staring into the cultural abyss

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2018-05-20 08:14. Updated on UTC 2018-05-21

Our Royal Correspondent writes:

Everything was going so well. Cheerful crowds. Cheerful weather. Some riff-raff on the guest list, admittedly – Beckham with the lifer tattoos around his neck – but these oddities came and went quickly before our eyes.

Britain: history, pomp and circumstance – if you've got it, flaunt it. The TV commentators took us through the history of Windsor Castle and St. George's Chapel. We heard Purcell, Elgar etc.

The bride looked elegant – the more traditionalist commentators did their best to see light-cream or off-white in Markle's glacier-sparkle dress, but, sensing that the facticity and the times were against them, fell silent on the subject. Why shouldn't a divorcee and the once girlfriend of a pornstar marry in white if she chooses. So she's been around the block a few times: Get over it. The pageboys and bridesmaids were charming. It was quite wonderful.

Then as soon as the bride got to the altar the joyful mood quite suddenly tipped over and crashed to the ground – the event had peaked and was irretrievably doomed.

Disaster

A black bishop of the Episcopalian Church pressed the slavery button and sent us slithering into misery and black victimhood. Just what you need at a wedding. And he went on and on – perhaps three times longer than planned – in full panto-dame, arm-waving mode, a little reminscient of Benito Mussolini at his oratorical peak. He was followed by a gospel choir.

All the joy evaporated. The mood evinced by Elgar and Purcell evaporated: even Elton John looked visibly thunderstruck at the lack of decorum. If Elton – the living embodiment of OTT – is shocked, then things must be bad. The well-brought-up in the congregation focussed their eyes on distant points and steadied their facial expressions. The less well-brought-up sniggered at the buffoon. Eyebrows were raised, eyes rolled discreetly.

People looked at each other shiftily, as if to verify their own embarrassment. The Duchess of Cornwall, hiding behind her broad hat, looked at the Duchess of Cambridge for a long few seconds, almost causing her to corpse. A moment of Jane Austen via Oscar Wilde channeling Brian Rix.

It was not over yet. More gospel choir: music that had nothing to do with getting married. Then there were three pieces played by a black 19-year-old cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason. He was gurning with emotion while playing Schubert's Ave Maria – a setting of a Catholic poem about the uprising of the Scots against the English. He played it very s l o w l y. More gospel choir.

The stand-out figure of the ceremony was Doria Ragland, Meghan's mother. Condemned by family circumstances to a solitary, even lonely role in the event, she bore her isolation with great dignity as billions of people around the world scrutinised her every expression minutely.

Chalk and cheese etc.

The cerebral types are torturing their brains trying to think of something in 'Black Culture' or even 'Modern Culture' that would work in a ceremony in St George's Chapel. So far, no answer. Gravy is tasty, strawberry ice-cream is tasty, too. But no one puts gravy on strawberry ice-cream – they just don't go together.

Did no one during the planning of this event have the courage to say: THAT'S NOT GOING TO WORK? We do not expect sensible intervention from the addled head of Charles, who lost his marbles long ago, but dared no one speak up? Not even a polite cough?

Turning over the planning of the ceremony to the confused and shallow culture of the modern know-nothing is not celebrating diversity or whatever – the result is simply indecorous. The process of crafting this ceremony was also wildly egotistical. The Queen has her OMs and her CHs, all wise and talented: why not ask them for suggestions and pick out what you like? Why do thirty-somethings with a mental age of fifteen believe that because it is their wedding, they are the best people to choose?

This ceremony was a metaphor of what is to come in this pairing – the lack of background and cultural level of the woman and the easy complaisance of the equally shallow man. His dim Grace the new Duke of Sussex must have noticed the problem at the ceremony, even his dim father, too. Let's see how he breaks it to his dim but dominant Duchess. Perhaps he won't. Perhaps he'll just keep working his way through the yoga positions and become a haggard vegan.

Update 21.05.2018

Quentin Letts, the witty and word-wise Mail columnist, posted his review of the royal wedding ceremony in an article on MailOnline. Don't bother to click on the link – the piece has disappeared (although it appeared in the print edition). It collected 45 comments, then vanished like a puff of smoke.

FoS image, size 708x450

Why?

Probably because Letts dared to criticise the wedding sermon of the man of the moment, Bishop Curry. 'Shouty American preacher' probably wouldn't go down too well with the huge American readership of the MailOnline – the only blessing being that the poor, sensitive lambs won't see the print edition. Business is business in our free and fearless media.

Nor did it fit in with the current idolisation of Curry in the MSM. However, he misjudged the occasion completely: instead of delivering a calm, uplifting sermon he chose to go into Elmer Gantry mode, making himself look an idiot in perpetuity.

Don't be misled by our extracts, though, because Letts said a lot of generous and positive things, but Curry was indeed the star, start and end of the article. Judge for yourself:

TILL death us do part — or at least until that shouty American preacher stops jumping up and down in his pulpit.

Prince Harry did his best to look fascinated during the Most Reverend Michael Curry's look-at-me-folks sermon. But after ten minutes or so, the Prince's eyes, which had widened so touchingly the moment he saw his bride, started to droop.

Yack, yack, yack went Brother Curry, emoting, thesping, at times crouching like Olympic skier Franz Klammer mid-slalom. Meghan seemed rapt. She's an actress, that lass. While Harry was initially attentive, his eyelids slowly fought to remain alert. They deserved a little mournful trombone solo all of their own, those eyes.

With his staged fervour and jabbering crescendo, Pastor Curry certainly seized his moment in front of the worldwide audience. Pentecostal zeal barged its way into the cool quire [recte 'choir'?] of St George's Chapel, Windsor. Preacher-man Curry hollered. He boinged up and down on the balls of his feet. He was a boxer in the ring! But he lost the House, as the parliamentary saying goes.

Inside the royal chapel, fascination was far from universal. Television cameras can be merciless instruments and they caught quite a lot of jaw-grinding and cornicegazing among the congregants.

Zara Tindall, heavily pregnant, ached for the half-time whistle. Across the slender lips of the Duchess of Cambridge crept a hint of minxy amusement. Camilla P-B (Duchess of Cornwall as is) hid below the brim of her magnificent pink hat. A guest in the back row of the choir stalls, lacking any such disguise, wore an expression of open mutiny. She was not alone.

The gospel singers' version of Stand By Me was performed well, though it did not rise to the ceiling vaults the way Rutter's The Lord Bless You And Keep You did.

[…]

If you have an archbishop in the building, why not let him give the sermon? Instead, we were subjected to that chap Curry from Chicago. He took an awfully long time to say something that was not wildly novel.

'We've got to get y'all married!' he gasped, as though admitting that he had gone on too long, but then he kept going for several more minutes. The memory of his shameless yankee-doodle pulpiteering will fade, as it invariably does.

We are sure that American readers of our website will take this invective in their stride. As we suggested in our article: gravy is good, strawberry ice-cream is good, but each has their own time and place.

As anyone who cares to visit YouTube will confirm, Letts did not make up the audience reactions to Michael Curry's sermon. Don't shoot the messenger.