What it Means

Am I fed up with the Duke of Edinburgh eulogies? Mostly yes. But partly no.

I’ve kept my head down to try to avoid the sheer awfulness of it all. I’ve had a great laugh these last two days with a close pal and we’ve entered surreal / seditious territory. “There’s a rumour the flags will be at half mast. Will you bring the diesel and matches or will I?”, he texts this morning. “I won’t have enough room in the car because of the size of the guillotine – vive la Republique!” I reply. I give him the killer stat that Versailles makes twice us much tourism money per year than Buckingham palace, so in the interests of a robust economic recovery post-Covid we need to consider a proper cull. All good knockabout stuff.

Later, over golf, a more measured thread emerges. Firstly, this is the second Phil-fest: they ran with this when the old boy “retired” a couple of years back. It’s actually really lazy cut and paste journalism (“the whole nation mourns” – really? Whit?). It reminds me of the sort of stuff you see in the papers when Stranraer draw somebody decent like Hibs in the Scottish Cup. “The town is buzzing with cup fever!” etc. No it isnae. It’s Hibs. Not Real Madrid.

It’s a strange analogy perhaps, but when Jimmy Savile died the BBC just sort of pressed a button and ran a tribute show, despite the fact that his appalling behaviour had long been in the public domain. My hunch – and I’m not a journalist but I’ll be asking a pal who is – is that they’ve been preparing the obits for so long that their united line – loyal to Her Majesty, war hero, did a lot for charity, refreshingly non-PC – is hardwired, by accident or design. Maybe both. The actual and more interesting narrative would be links to the far right, three nazi sisters, deep reactionary and proven racist married to a woman with an equally dubious worldview.

The Prince Phillip being eulogised as a paragon of virtue, humanity & compassion must be a completely different Prince Phillip from the womaniser, racist & distant father portrayed in The Crown on Netflix. That of course was fiction; as if what we are being presented with today is not also fiction. And I was looking forward to a walk round the Lochans yesterday to get some election leaflets out, but I wasn’t allowed to. And I guarantee you, one hundred percent, that if I had not a single buddy would have said: “look Alec, no offence pal, but I saw on the telly that a posh guy in his hundredth year that I’ve never met in my life died of natural causes. Gonnae come back the morn?” Ludicrous. You could ride a horse over a fence yesterday (and bet on it to win) but you couldn’t put a piece of paper through a neighbour’s door. Although paying tribute to a feudal relic by suspending legitimate democratic process is, I suppose, in its own way, quite fitting.

In the end, it’s personal. The final thing he (my friend) said to me yesterday was quietly moving. He’s still raw from recently losing his dad, who like Phil was in his nineties. I’m paraphrasing here, but not much.

“Life goes on”, he said. “Losing my dad was sad. I loved him. But he was 93. He had a brilliant life. No regrets. And yet they’re calling this (Phil the Greek) a ‘tragedy’. It’s grotesque. Someone dying at nine is a tragedy. But ninety-nine? Get over yourself. If we use words like this over the natural death of a privileged stranger they lose their meaning. We cheapen ourselves. and the memory of people who actually matter to us. What words have we left to use when the really bad shit goes down”?

We finished our round, and headed off in search of something much stronger and more grounded in reality.

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9 replies »

  1. It’s possible that there are a great many of us who think similarly but are reluctant to say anything at this point. I find the constant hand-wringing and expressions of “so sad” over the death of anyone rather pathetic. Anyone who lives to a “decent age” (pick your number – I usually use the average for the country) should be celebrated. Everyone dies, so be prepared. In any case, the lives of only a very few people are such that their death affects more than their immediate family and Prince’s Philip’s doesn’t, in my opinion, fall into that category.

  2. We can always rely on you, Alec for a good reality check. I have to say I totally agree. The MSM coverage is totally fawning, over the top exaggeration, if not downright dishonest.

  3. I didn’t watch any of it. I saw that he’d died, aged 99, thought “That’s no surprise.” And that was that.
    It’s not something which matters to me. It matters to his family, that’s about it, really.

    What I am watching on the News, is what’s happening in Northern Ireland – that does matter.

    I’m wondering though, if Lizzie might now decide to step back and hand over the reins to Charlie – which could be of interest as he might have a more open mind about certain issues?

  4. Absolutely agree, Alec, with everything you have said. Brilliantly written as always and a real reality check on what we are witnessing with MSM. Hypocrisy by the bucketload.

  5. Alec. you asked about obits, well all the main TV cannels are constantly preparing and updating these obits, at enormous cost I might add and paid in the case of the EBC your licence fee. I’m not hard hearted but having lost my own parents and my in-laws I know the feelings of sorrow but FFS wall-to-wall repetitive Gobshite is nauseating and completely un-necessary. So all I’ll add is, so the old bugger with all his known faults is dead, so RIP Phil – END OF!!!

    And an excellent piece once again Alec.

  6. Bang on ! All out for 99 is a decent innings – let the family mourn while the rest of us get on with normal life.

  7. According the the ONS around 150,000 people died across the UK and including young and old, where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. I haven’t heard eulogies or tributes for any of them being broadcasted all day long across almost all BBC radio and TV channels. I will keep my other thoughts to myself and just diplomatically say that this was an experience of double standards, hence resorting to Aljazeera recently felt like a relief, at least they reported what’s really relevant these days… the plights of the living, the suffering and deaths of the many and not the few…

  8. UK sports teams wear black armbands and stand at attention for TWO full minutes in faux mournful respect – before kneeling for 30 seconds to bring attention to the fight against racism – after spending TWO full minutes in ‘respect’ of the very embodiment of casual ingrained racism at the highest level. Sheer hypocrisy by all the FAs, clubs and players to miss an open goal to focus attention where it may actually help bring about some real change.

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