29th April – We will soon have a new Mr and Mrs Windsor, but at what cost?

3 months, 29Days – still sober.

What Mobi did

On Wednesday I went to see Dang at her shop and we had a long, civilised chat about many things. It seems that at long last we are able to chat without rancour and without trying to blame each other for the breakup of our marriage. She asked me to help her on a couple of minor things and I said that I would. She is working at her hair dressing salon every day now and told me that she is doing quite well and is making enough money to live on. Long may it continue.

After that I was a bit naughty, stopping by a few short time bars before returning home in the late afternoon.

Yesterday I took Noo and Junior into Pattaya and we did a bit of shopping, bought him a school uniform for his new term and then we went bowling again. We rounded off the afternoon with a meal at MK and stuffed ourselves silly. Oh, then I bought Noo a new watch as she had given her old one to her son. Unfortunately, by the time we got home the watch had stopped, so today she has gone back to the shop to sort it out.

Noo is taking her son back to Nong Khai today; they will be catching a bus from Pattaya in the late afternoon. She will stay in Nong Khai for a few days to get her son  settled back in school and spend some time with her family, especially and youngest daughter who recently had a nasty accident and nearly lost a toe. I expect to see Noo back here in Pattaya by the middle of next week so it will be a little test for me to see if I can survive alone. I’m sure I will be fine – albeit a little naughty.

The Royal Wedding  – whither the class-ridden or classless society?

I am Brit and I have been an anti-royalist for many years. That doesn’t mean that I want to abolish Royalty as an institution, because, like many others (including many of my Australian friends), I cannot conceive of any alternative that would be an improvement.

But I do believe that the Royals and their hangers- on are far too privileged and their current role and the cost to the British exchequer are an anachronism in the 21st century. I believe that the role of the Monarchy should be substantially re-vamped and they should be relegated to a more minor place in British society; with the King or Queen of the day, having a much lower profile role, as the ‘nominal’ Head of State.

For example, we certainly don’t need all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the of the opening of Parliament, whereby the Queen arrives by stagecoach, in all her glory, crown upon her head,  and our elected members of parliament have to huddle together, standing in entrance to the House of Lords to listen to her reading from a speech which has been written by the government of the day. It is a complete load of antiquated tosh that should be discarded to the waste bin of history.

All the Palaces of residence, including Bucking Palace, Windsor Castle, et al should be turned over to the State and maintained as tourist attractions. The monarch, his/her spouse, together with the official heirs to the throne and the children of the monarch, (until they come of age), could  be accommodated in a decent  but much more modest residence, somewhere in the countryside as would be commensurate with their position as the Head of State and the immediate family.

Probably 90 % of the trappings of the British royalty today could be done away with. All the brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces and other royal hangers on would have to stand on their own feet and get proper jobs like the rest of the population. The current Royalty ethos, which is epitomised by effing, tree-hugging, Charlie who still employs a servant to put the toothpaste on his toothbrush, should be swept away and confined to the past.

During the past 50 years, Britain, I believe, has gone a long way towards breaking down the discriminatory effects of privilege and class structure in British society and it is time to call a day on the grossly out-dated and absurdly expensive pantomime which is still endemic in the current behaviour of  the Royal family. It is time to move on.

I think all the hype over today’s royal wedding is completely ludicrous and I am almost ashamed to be British when I see all the fawning British subjects camped out in London, just for the chance to get a glance at the privileged few, to say nothing of the millions from all over the world who seem to be suffering from the same kind of mass hysteria – seduced – nay intoxicated by this ludicrous circus. It is all so reminiscent of the late Princess Dianna’s funeral which surely must go down as one of the largest mass hysteria events in all history.

I was watching Bill O’Reilly on Fox news the other day and was slightly amused to see he has got himself into a bit of a storm by debunking the royal wedding. I doubt that even he realised the strength of feeling in the USA, many of whom support and love these events ‘across the pond’. Of course, they love it so much because they have no Royal family of their own.  The grass is always greener. However, I did object to O’Reilly’s contention that The Royal Family was but a nasty symbol of Britain’s class ridden society and that the downtrodden working class had little or no opportunity to better themselves – quite unlike the USA where the American Dream was available to all. ‘I used to live in England!’ he is so fond of reminding us, ‘So I know what I’m talking about…’

A bit of research reveals that O’Reilly spent one year at London University back in the late sixties as an exchange student and he seems to base his whole knowledge and experience of Britain on that long ago, 12 month stay.

The well-known American business magazine, Forbes, published an article a couple of years ago entitled: ‘The American Dream -America, The New Class-Society’ It is a long, well researched article that propounds the idea that modern day America is more class-ridden than Europe in general and Britain in particular.

I quote from the article  as follows:

“Class in America is determined predominantly by wealth. And in an information-based capitalistic economy, wealth is largely determined by educational attainment. That is taken as a difference from European societies, where inherited privilege, and particularly noble birth, is seen as predetermining a person’s starting point in society.

That view is anachronistic. The European class system has been buffeted by centuries of social turmoil–the church lost its lands, industrial revolutions muscled in on the landed aristocracy, enfranchisement became widespread. It has adapted as best it could–in the 19th century the marriage of American heiresses to impoverished British peers became a U.S. export industry–but increasingly, class in Europe is more style than substance.

Class is changing yet again, and the new incarnation of the class-society is at its most advanced in the U.S. A good education is now the most important determinate of class, and in America, access to good schools–whether private or public -is increasingly reserved for the well-to-do.

Homes located in decent school districts are often dramatically more expensive than those near mediocre schools. And the very richest now almost exclusively opt to send their offspring to private prep schools at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a year.

As a result, since the 1980s, the wealthy have been living increasingly segregated lives from the general population to secure those advantages. And it is paying off: The proportion of upper-middle-class students at top American universities is increasing, regardless of diversity programs.

Merit (ability plus hard work) was always meant to replace the inherited privilege of the Old World as the route to the top in America. But merit in modern America is at least partly class-based.

While a few high achievers scale the summits of wealth, the rest are finding it harder to move up from one economic class to another. One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that fewer families moved from one quintile, or fifth, of the income ladder to another during the 1980s than during the 1970s, and that still fewer moved in the ’90s than in the ’80s.

In America, the problem is amplified by widening income inequalities. The rich are simply getting richer so much faster that social mobility can’t keep up.

The much narrower income gaps in European economies are one reason that, contrary to many Americans’ beliefs, there is more social mobility in Britain and other European countries these days than in the U.S. Take Britain, the original class-society in the minds of most Americans. The popular image of Britain remains one of a nation of landed aristocracy where class is the weft and warp of society. In fact, that started to change after World War II

Six years of the shared deprivations of war were a great social leveler. Allied to that was a strong desire to break with the past that had brought the war about. Winston Churchill’s reward for being Britain’s victorious wartime prime minister was to be thrown out of office. In the first general election after the war, Britons elected Labour’s Clement Attlee and a government that would usher in the welfare state. Americans elected Harry Truman, and moved on to their next wars, both hot and cold.

The pomp and ceremony of state occasions in Britain gives the impression of the persistence of a class-ridden society. After all, any class-run society needs history and tradition to validate itself.

Even here, appearance can be deceptive. While the Queen and Royal Family stand at the apex of a system of heredity and landed titles – every noble is a duke, marquis, earl, viscount or baron of somewhere, though most lost their right to sit in the House of Lords in 1999–it is easy to overlook that England is now on its eighth royal family since William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 to sort out some family business with his Norse cousins.

Not that class has completely disappeared in England. Close your eyes and listen to an English person speak, and you hear class regardless of the person’s ethnic background. In the U.S., by contrast, you hear education, the underpinning of the new class-society.”

There is some compelling stuff in the above article.

One of the big debates going on in America is Obama’s drive to introduce a more comprehensive, state sponsored, health care system. This of course, is something that has been available for all in the UK for over 60 years. Many Republicans in the USA (including the estimable O’Reilly), maintain that the British National health system is seriously flawed and that the State gets to choose who lives and who dies. Really? To some extent, in extreme cases, that may well be true, but for the vast, overwhelming majority of the population, they couldn’t imagine a life without their free healthcare, where everyone has access the best available doctors, specialists and the most modern treatment, regardless of personal circumstances.

Of course there will always be problems about the cost of the very latest, often experimental life-saving treatment which can be so expensive that it might deprive thousands of ‘lesser sufferers’ the benefits of a better quality of life if the ‘one off’ treatments were approved and no funds ran out  for certain routine operations. These are moral dilemmas that are continually being debated and hopefully resolved, but even in the USA, insurance carriers are often having to make similar choices. Do the Americans’ serious think that the State will be any different if they take over the role from private insurers? The plain fact is that there can never be a bottomless pit of money to cure every person who is sick and the British public, in general, understands and accepts that this is a small price to pay for universal free healthcare.

Then you have the grossly inequitable justice system in the USA where 90 % of criminal defendants plead guilty and plea bargain, even though a significant number are innocent; all because they do not have access to decent legal representation, as they have no money. This simply does not happen any longer in ‘class ridden’ Britain. Every criminal is entitled to legal aid – sometimes the best that money can buy – but paid for by the State.

In the USA, you either have to be a billionaire or have billionaire friends before you could even think about aspiring to high political office. There is little doubt that the chances of becoming a mayor, a governor, a member of State legislature, let alone a member of congress is closed to all but a few privileged few. Yet here, in Britain, as long ago as 1946 a politician with a strictly non -privileged background was elected as prime minister, and more recently in the 80’s, even the ‘party of privilege’ – the Tories – elected a grocer’s daughter, who had a state education, as its leader, a lady who went on to become one of Britain’s greatest post war prime-minsters.

Donald Trump is an American very much in the news these days. He is very rich, hosts a very successful TV programme and may stand for President next year, although I personally doubt it. If you check his background, you will see that he comes from the moneyed classes and had a good, privately-funded education. Trump hosts a TV programme called ‘The Apprentice’. It is interesting to note that the British version of ‘The Apprentice’ is hosted by a self-made, cockney billionaire, who was raised in a council flat, and was penniless when he left his state school at the age of 16. He is now a Lord of the Realm and advisor to the great and good. And it didn’t cost him a penny. This is  just one of thousands of similar such stories. What a contrast with his American counterpart?

Wither the class-ridden or classless societies?

Poetry in Music

As promised – although admittedly a day late – I publish below my second choice of song by John Denver.

The song is ‘Two Different Directions’. I first heard it when I was still living with Dang and thought that the song had been written for Dang and me. I also thought that when I left Dang, (I had been planning my departure for many months before it finally happened), I would leave her with a copy of the song to explain my reasons. Of course I never did, but in more fanciful moments I dreamed that I should.

In reality, I assume that Denver wrote the song about himself and his then wife, (He was married twice), but unlike Dang and I, I think in the song, Denver was the one who kept going away, but in my relationship it was Dang.

In spite of all my antipathy to the British Royals and today’s over-hyped wedding, let’s hope that Will and Kate don’t end up in ‘Two Different Directions.’ ☺

Two Different Directions

They say they love each other

I’ve no doubt they do

They say they’ll always be together

That may not be true

They come from different places

Different points of view

They find themselves in different spaces

Everything is all brand new

Two different directions

Too many different ways

One always on the road somewhere

The other one always stays

Too often unhappy

Too often on your own

When you are moving in different directions

True love is all alone

Old stories start to surface

Patterns from long ago

And loving quickly turns to anger

For reasons they don’t even know

The strongest heart can be broken

With one insensitive word

The deepest feelings remain unspoken

No one is seen and nothing heard

Two different directions

Too many different ways

One always wants to work things out

The other one wants to play

Too ready for changes

Too much that just can’t wait

When you are moving in different directions

True love can turn to hate

If opposites attract each other

What’s the reason for

One being like an open window

One just like a closing door

Two different directions

Too many different ways

One likes to see the morning sunrise

The other one sleeps in late

Too many tomorrows

Too many times too late

When you are moving in different directions

True love may have to wait

If you are committed to different directions

True love will have to wait

Watch John Denver singing: Two Different Directions


3 thoughts on “29th April – We will soon have a new Mr and Mrs Windsor, but at what cost?”

  1. Hi Mobi,
    Some pertinent points there on the Royal wastrels. Outdated and expensive, but judging by the commotion yesterday Ruritania is still alive and well. Nobody seemed to give a damn around here at all.


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