Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Last night Anna and I took Charlie and Dominique (and Goldie of course) up the local hill for the lighting of the jubilee beacon.  As we walked up the hill there was a wonderful full moon: low, orange and huge.  We could see other beacons lit: nearby on a limestone scar, and beyond to the South - apparently one of those we could see was in Yorkshire.  Looking East, there were several in the Pennines, and North, on the Lakeland fells.

Our own was simply a pile of hay bales, but it burned spectacularly:

It was a good event: most people from the three local villages seemed to have turned out, and it was an occasion when people whose paths don't normally cross mixed in an atmosphere of high good humour.

We gave three cheers for Her Majesty and sang the National Anthem before walking back down to the larger of the local villages in a long procession, most of us carrying flaming torches (the village shop had done a great trade in them, and had to limit the number they could sell to each family) 

There was to be a burger and a midnight dip in the open air pool for the hardy (or fool-hardy) but none of us fancied that, so we walked back to our village by the dying light of our torches.

I am, as you might expect, in favour of a constitutional monarchy.  At its best, it should demonstrate something about hereditary duty.  I am of the view that we can never get rid of hereditary privilege: the children of those who have done well (even in the strictest meritocracy) will always start with advantages.  What I would hope is that they also start with a sense of responsibility, of duty, to repay something...

Here I think our current Queen has been both a success and a failure.  On the one hand, there can be no doubt that she takes her duties seriously and strives diligently to accomplish them.  On the other hand, she has demonstrably failed to raise an heir worthy of the throne.  But perhaps today is not the day to be over-critical of her.

At the very least, the institution of the Monarchy provides for high days and holidays that can unite all but the most doctrinaire in ways that few other occasions in this country can do.

Domine salvam fac reginam nostram Elizabeth: et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te.

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