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Hungry dogs licking plates: how the social media “reported” Britain’s longest day

September 22, 2022

The funeral is over. The Queen is finally at rest. From her family’s standpoint, there must be a collective sigh of relief that they can escape the cameras for a few days. For never in recorded history, one might think, have so many eyes been focused on one family over such a period of time.

Every gesture, every mode of dress, every tear threatening to roll down a royal cheek has been has been broadcast to millions. Even who stands next to who, who looks up, left, right and down.

The BBC has rightly been praised for its coverage, most of which I missed because we didn’t watch TV when we were in France. But I did get home in time for the lying-in-state and the subsequent funeral. I appreciated the Beeb’s less-is-more approach. The live feed, with no commentary, of the lying-in-state. The funeral itself, also without accompanying platitudes.

Perhaps we could have learned more about the symbolic significance of those supporting dignitaries who looked like the characters in a pack of cards. And as the cortege marched through the streets of London, I would have appreciated a little insight from one of my ex-military friends about the provenance of all those bemedalled marchers in their magnificent uniforms. That said, before and after the funeral services in Westminster and Windsor, we did get some mood-appropriate words from Huw Edwards and his mates, so that we could shed a tear at the sight of Her Majesty’s pony and a couple of her corgis lined up to say goodbye. Do we humanise animals, or them us?

But where could we go for all the juicy stuff that we crave? The stuff we didn’t pick up on because we were too busy focusing on the music, or on the Archbishop’s waspish comments about leaders? The metacoverage, if you like?

Sure enough, up pops the social media, greedily feeding on the scraps. Lapping up “significant” signs and portents that were beneath the dignity of the BBC to report.

What was that piece of paper that fell from the lap of some cleric and briefly besmirched the pristine view of the coffin in Westminster Abbey? Why was Joe Biden seated several rows back amongst the lowly ex-kings and queens? Why were Boris and Carrie briefly blocked from entering the abbey by some official so that others could enter before them? Why didn’t Harry salute the cenotaph? What about Meghan’s bare arms? Come to think of it, why was poor Harry even allowed to be there? So that we the people could squabble about his appearances in or out of uniform like fractious siblings from decades ago arguing about how to dress Action Man dolls? Et cetera, ad nauseam.

As I mentioned in a recent piece about The Queue, I’m not averse to a spot of people-watching. But not with a particular agenda in mind – more out of a sense of curiosity and idle speculation. Unlike Donald Trump, who sought to make political capital out of Biden’s unobtrusive presence during the funeral – he would, he claims, have sat his fat arse wherever he could be best seen, because the funeral was all about him – I have no axe to grind, (unless, of course, the axe could be ground between his voluminous buttocks).

But my, what a spectacle it was. Probably the longest and most widely-covered funeral event in history, and certainly the most spectacular, rivalled only by the obsequies for the late King of Thailand and, in terms of popular fervour, by Ayatollah Khomeini’s farewell in Iran and the funeral in Cairo of the Arab world’s supreme diva, Umm Kalthoum.

Now it’s over, we, the Queen’s subjects, can return to other important news, such as Putin’s threat to reduce us to ashes, The Trussticle’s attempts to destroy our economy and any number of other incidental stories that can be extruded, analysed, embellished and varnished like polished turds for our enlightenment and petrification.

But if we want to ignore that stuff, there’s always the social media, like hungry dogs licking unwashed dinner plates, ready to tell us everything we really need to know.

After all, poor Harry and his troubles are surely more important than hurricanes, nukes, revolutions, mass poverty and progressive social degradation, are they not?

I’ll stop now, because I’m getting far too serious. Time for some Russian sacred music, followed by a few screaming goat videos. They’ll lift the mood, no doubt.

From → Media, Social, UK

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