Here’s my two pence worth on The Royal Wedding. I’d decided I wouldn’t watch any of it on TV [the obvious lefty-leaning reasons: the privilege, the pomp, the profligacy at a time of years of austerity for most, the cost to the State, the PR rebranding of the Royals as an institution of relevance] and I was therefore outside mowing the grass noisily in a protest only my neighbours would hear.
When I came indoors having manicured the lawn in my dissent, it was later than I thought and the TV was on, my wife V viewing the spectacle already well on course in an understandably watchable moment. I headed as intended straight for my computer, but when I sat down, I heard the strident but also musical voice of Bishop Michael Curry who was already in full flow. It was irresistibly intriguing. I went in to watch, and was captured. Not being religious nor, as already stated, keen on that kind of ceremonial event, I was nonetheless drawn to Curry’s powerful invocation of the power of love, and to his civil rights’ touchstones. It was also hilarious, in many ways, to immediately sense but also witness the incongruity of that delivery in the Royal context and all of its otherwise conventional, sedate, reverential, boringly predictable and clichéd expectations.
And to see the look on so many bemused, shocked faces! It was wonderful. You either watched it or you didn’t: if was joyous to observe – the injection of soul into an otherwise traditionally staid event. My personal favourite moment – more comic than moving – was in this line from Curry’s speech [read the whole here], Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? But you had to hear it live for the comedy to make sense. Curry asked the question and then paused – that pregnant pause waiting for the expected assent, the yeahs or nods or hands up, but when there was no response and just the still air of indifference/uncertainty/unknowing, he clarified to this largely British/UK attendance with that American word automobiles! Brilliant.
And then this was followed by the black gospel Kingdom Choir performing the glorious Stand by Me, resonating with its inherent civil rights meaning and the deep beauty of its melody. With these two moments I was hooked – but at the point of H and M’s vows being taken, I did immediately go to the kitchen to prepare the pizza for V I had concocted the night before: a colourful range of vegetables, yet my inspirational crumbling of sweet potato pakora with its fiery red pepper was, in the end, perhaps accidental/incidental homage to Curry’s reference to fire from the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Continuing with my proclivities, I read this morning’s Observer with special interest in its reflections. I enjoyed, as I always do, television correspondent Euan Ferguson on the banalities of much of the TV coverage, as well as that which took a lighter perspective. I was initially convinced by Nosheen Iqbal – and don’t challenge her optimism for its purposefulness – in an article titled Astonishment in the pews as dose of civil rights puts seal on a radical wedding – but I was then more swayed by the sense and questioning of such reverie by Kenan Malik in his piece Meghan Markle can’t make feudal privilege acceptable.
For my part, I found the following in the listing section of Curry’s powerful sermon, able to relate to his calling for love in the world though not seeing it in any Christian or other religious sense. It seems to me we do not need the ceremony and privilege and institutionalised programming of such a call to be better:
imagine like we love
is the way
imagine when love is the
imagine when neighbourhoods and communities
become the way
imagine unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive
governments and nations
imagine there’s plenty
of good room
imagine a mighty stream and righteousness is
imagine business and commerce
imagine when we lay down our swords
imagine when to study war is
imagine our homes and families
shield us all
imagine we actually treat each other
imagine the earth
is the way
imagine this tired old world
is the way