Friday, April 29, 2011

A Right Royal Affair

Di and Chuck

Nearly 30 years ago, on 29th July, 1981, I sat glued to a little television set in my flat in Finsbury Park, London, and watched Charles and Diana get married. Three decades have gone by in the twinkling of an eye. Now I'm awake in the middle of the night, 6000 mile from Westminster Abbey watching Prince William and Kate Middleton (a "commoner" -only in the UK can class stratification be so overt) take the plunge. These events seem to have an effect on me as here I am coming out of my blogging hiatus to comment. Curious as I'm not really a Royal fan; "go figure" as they like to say on this side of the Atlantic. Anyway these goings on have given me cause to reflect on the Then and Now.

In 1981, at the dawn of the computer age, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister (I'm still traumatised) and Elizabeth II was Queen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (somethings never change). The country was reeling from race riots in Brixton and elsewhere. The Irish troubles were very prominent and IRA detainee, Bobby Sands, died while on hunger strike. Tottenham Hotspur won the FA cup in fine style after a replay (Yay, Ricky Villa!) and John McEnroe won at Wimbledon. The Specials' "Ghost Town" was #1 and Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" was also in the charts (surely pop music really was better back then). On the technology front, Germany launched its TGV, Europe's first high speed train and IBM started producing the first PC. It wasn't a good year for assassinations: Anwar Sadat was killed in Egypt and attempts were made on the lives of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Elias Canetti won the Nobel prize for literature -I bought Auto-da-Fé at the time and it still resides, unread, on my bookshelf. The first case of a peculiar skin cancer (Kaposi's Sarcoma) in a gay man was diagnosed in Britain, although other cases had been observed in California -little did I know that this disease was to keep me employed for many years after.

Since then the tragicomedy of the Royal Soap Opera proceeded in a way that could not have been made up. In other areas we've witnessed wars (Falklands, Gulf I and II, Afghanistan) and diseases (AIDS, SARS, H1N1, Mad Cow to name but a few). Technological triumphs have taken place in space (the shuttle, international space station and Hubble telescope), medicine (statins, Prozac, Viagra, anti-retovirals) and communications (FAX machines, personal computers, cell phones, the internet, iPods, email and Facebook). Global warming has worried us and the Irish Troubles largely ceased. Video games have kept us entertained to the point of addiction. Cars have acquired catalytic converters, crumple zones, computers and airbags. Football (soccer) has become a global marketing opportunity although cricket is mercifully (mostly) unchanged. Popular music now mostly consists of people I haven't heard of although fresh talent like Adele, Joss Stone and bloody Coldplay still emerges. Britain now has great food (it was never that bad) and the US makes good beer. London has acquired The Eye, the Erotic Gherkin, the Millennium Bridge and Dome, the Lloyds building, the Assembly building, Docklands, Canary Wharf, the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre. Transport developments include the Jubilee Line extension, bendy buses (boo), bike lanes, Boris' bikes and congestion charges. Smoking, which was even permitted on The Tube back then is now banned just about everywhere including pubs, thank goodness.

Like it or not, William and Kate's wedding is the kind of event that causes reflection. I suppose this is a good thing -at the very least it's snapped me out of my blogging stasis. So today I'll put a small placemark in history as well as my own life events. I'm now looking forward to the next 30 years and wondering what the wedding of the Royal Couple's first offspring will look like and of course what will occur on the World Stage in the intervening years.

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