Great Britain – normal service will resume shortly

Oh please let it be so, as I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. At least the Blessed Diana defused a bunch of landmines, and thus saved the lives of poor unfortunates in war-torn lands. This morning, on what I trust is the final day of the Jubilee celebrations, I cannot even listen to BBC Radio 4 in the background while I work, as the station is carrying a live feed from the “Thanksgiving Service” in St Paul’s Cathedral, complete with running commentary from the intensely irritating continuity announcers who have come into their own this past week.

On Sunday I led a “Not the Jubilee Greenway” cycle ride around those bits of the so-called Jubilee Greenway that were not blocked to plebeians. The Greenway is a 70 kilometre walking and cycling route around London that in large part follows the capital’s waterways. From my small but hardy group’s experience of the rain-sodden ride, I can safely say that it’s official – God is a republican. But then I don’t think he has a particularly high regard for me either, given that I suffered n>>1 punctures and various other mechanical problems.

After we had escaped central London and the Jubilee crowds, the cycle ride through an eerily empty Kensington Park Gardens, and along a Regents Canal towpath almost completely devoid of human life, was mercifully quiet. The noisiest creatures were the Canada Geese – uppity colonials with no respect for order and tradition.

On the way back to Greenwich along the Thames Path from Woolwich, we got to see a flotilla of small boats emerging from the yacht club, along with other craft that had been part of the main river pageant between Battersea and Tower Bridge. For a moment I wondered whether Liz #2 was on her way to Tilbury to make a rousing speech to the troops and see off Johnny Foreigner.

I have one positive impression of Brenda’s Jubilee bash that is particularly worthy of note: the stewards we encountered on Sunday were friendly and helpful. Dayglo vests so often bring out the worst in people, but not on Sunday. We were even told cheerily that it was perfectly acceptable for us to cycle along roads closed to motor traffic. “Just be careful,” they told us. The only thing missing was the sound of Vera Lynn blasting out of Tannoys “I’m forever blowing bubbles,…”.

Talking of the Jubilee stewards, I see that scores of them were long-term unemployed from the English southwest, ‘volunteered’ and bussed in by security firm Close Protection UK as part of the government’s workfare programme. These poor unfortunates were forced to sleep without cover under London Bridge, with no access to toilet and changing facilities.

Still, these 21st century serfs get to keep the boots supplied free of charge by their ‘employer’, and paid for out of the public purse at around twice the market rate. These heroes give new meaning to the term The Great Unwashed, and I salute them, one and all!