I am not a fan of queues. In fact, that’s putting it mildly.
The airport sets my teeth, if not the entire lower half of my head, on edge. If two people are ahead of me in a queue in Lidl, I get the heebie-jeebies. And those Lidl queues are fairly fast-moving.
Suffice to say that the footage of British people queuing for, reportedly, up to 30 hours was a triggering sight. I watched with a mixture of undiluted horror and fascination at those who willingly stood in line, despite warnings the endeavour would be physically and mentally arduous.
Airport-style security, three miles of fencing and wristbands were soon being deployed. Soon, it simply became ‘The Queue’, visible from space, according to a few hysterical newspaper reports. There was a queue to get into The Queue.
A woman emerged on the other side of the whole fandango, happily enthusing that seeing the queen’s coffin lying in state was better than the birth of her two children. Romcom-style meet-cutes were happening in the queue. One woman went to see the queen’s coffin seven times.
Queue politesse is one of the most British things there is, but there was an undeniable sense that in their collective grief, some royal fans were starting to lose it a bit.
By the time David Beckham had been absolved of all supposed prior wrongdoings after waiting his turn in the queue like a ‘normal’ person, my eyes were rolling so hard that my eyelids were getting six-packs.
Controversy then erupted when various well-known figures, politicians and broadcasters skipped the 10-mile queue to see the Queen lying in state. One regular civilian was quoted in the London Times thus: “I don’t really like how MPs always get the front row tickets. They should join in with the rest of the queue. We’re all human, why should they be treated differently?” Woah-ho, wait until he gets a grip on life back in the real world.
In among the ‘thems’ who deigned to break away from the ‘us’ were This Morning presenters Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, who entered the hall as broadcasters. As I write, nearly 40,000 people have signed a petition for the pair to be axed from their jobs. Willoughby has reportedly called in lawyers over the whole scenario.
Of the many people who decided to take the fast-track, the backlash facing Schofield and Willoughby — the latter in particular, for some reason — has been truly staggering.
Perhaps, after two years of Covid, the British public are incensed by any chat of being ‘all in it together’. Perhaps they are bereft at losing ‘the nation’s granny’ and grappling with fiercely intense emotions.
The British media have stuffed so much hyper-emotional guff down their collective gullet for the last 10 days, no wonder emotions are flying high. But the famously British stiff upper lip and the mantra of ‘never complain, never explain’ so favoured by the Queen seems to have died along with her.
Queue-jumpers are infuriating at the best of times, but it’s slightly naive of the great unwashed public to believe there wasn’t going to be a fast-track option for VIPs with seemingly more important places to be.
And even more naive to think they wouldn’t use it in favour of a 30-hour queue. Besides, it’s a bit late in the day to be grumbling about any kind of two-tier system in modern-day Britain. That ship has sailed.
Ironic really, because what perpetuates the idea of social inequality more than a monarchy?
Certain media outlets seem to be confused at the idea that people don’t look the same as they did 30 years ago.
Since retiring from acting at the turn of the century, actress Bridget Fonda (58) has kept out of the public eye and appears happy enough to be concentrating on her family.
Given that Fonda has removed herself from public view deliberately, I don’t know what she’s at and I don’t care.
But it hasn’t stopped papers from photographing her as she goes about her daily business and running contrasting photos from her acting ‘heyday’ (in bikinis, naturally).
The point these pap shots are making is not that she is “unrecognisable”, but that she has put on weight. In one way, the interest in the story is probably understandable. After all, how many Hollywood actresses do we know turn their back on the business so decisively?
Most of them expend a remarkable amount of time and energy holding back the tides of time and keeping to a certain weight. To look as though you’re not suspended in aspic is a genuinely radical move.
But there’s something completely unnecessary and unfair about photographing a private citizen who clearly wants out of the limelight, just so you can make all kinds of grim inferences about women, weight and ageing.
And given how easily the media seem to cover women in shame, can you blame Fonda for opting out one bit?
If you do yourself one thing today, go find the delightful reaction video in which little brown and black girls are watching the trailer of the live action remake of The Little Mermaid.
To their surprise and delight, Ariel (played by Halle Bailey) looks just like them. It’s proof positive why representation on screen matters.
As for those who are criticising the casting choice — in the toss up between positive representation for all kids, especially those under-represented in mainstream movies, and your ‘ruined childhood’, I know which one I’d rather.