It’s Festival 22 time! Welcome to an orgy of pride, pageantry and, er, levelling up

Usefully, それが判明したとして, there is already a word for a national glut of festivals and pageants – pageantitis. First innocently observed in 1907, then again in the 1950s, another wave of festivities is currently being commissioned – to the satisfaction of its self-appointed star, ボリス・ジョンソン – for 2022.

先週, with a hint of the impending auto-idolatry, the prime minister took early ownership of one of these celebrations, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, これ the Queen had just launched with a baton relay. They marked, he announced, “a year of pride and celebration for this country”.

Pride in what? Shelves? There’s so much to choose from, isn’t there, and nothing perhaps more apposite to probable 2022 conditions than the centenary of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. But the main pretext, maybe only partly tarnished by the ongoing efforts of Prince Andrew to elude legal action by an allegedly trafficked victim of sexual abuse, is the Queen’s platinum jubilee, marking her heroic and unrivalled 70 王位に就いた年.

With Andrew presumably concealed, the ritual will otherwise look familiar: parades, コーチ, thanksgivings, balcony appearances, street parties, beacons, fireworks, a concert and a three-part pageant, “Ceremonial, Celebration, Finale”, that will “celebrate the service of Her Majesty’s reign”, ie, all her majesty’s previous pageants.

As is equally traditional, the pageantry will be principally entrusted, via some process not well understood outside the pageant community, to a favoured brotherhood, including in this case the pageant master who brought us the Thames celebration in 2012. Also involved in that unforgettable regatta was the now platinum co-chair, Sir Michael Lockett, a former organiser of Tory conferences who helped with David Cameron’s leadership campaign. Although the appointment of his co-chair, the former publishing executive Nicholas Coleridge, now introduced as “chairman of the Prince of Wales’s campaign for wool” was not immediately comprehensible, his appearance at the Tory conference will have fulfilled party hopes that these £15m celebrations have a parallel function – to keep it in power.

Assuring delegates that the pageant would be bigger than Queen Victoria’s, に 1897, Coleridge confirmed that its ambition also exceeds hers, being a kind of national antidepressant, to “try to cheer up the country” after the pandemic. The wool expert also wants us to feel “re-energised, highly patriotic and very much one nation”. If he was unable to confirm that “Build Back Better” would feature on the Queen’s hat, with a thoughtful Johnson kindly replacing her majesty where much standing is involved, Coleridge reassured Conservatives that the mood-enhancing entertainment would never lose sight of its other purpose: “The levelling-up agenda will be fully respected.”

Levelling up will also, according to Birmingham mayor Andy Street, be a specifically Tory message from the Commonwealth Games: “To show that the prime minister’s key agenda does not just apply to white working-class areas up north.”

In Windsor, another jubilee pageant, 「「A Gallop Through History」, planned by some other men, will take a shape – “from Elizabeth to the present day” – perhaps more redolent of the kind described by Richmal Crompton. William is cast as a swain.

“‘You know, dear,’ said his mother, ‘it’s a dear old festival and quite an honour to take part in it, and a smock is quite a nice manly garment.’

'はい, Mother,’ said William.”

The producer, director and army major general Simon Brooks-Ward promises broadcast entertainment that, even without slogans, can’t but help Johnson exploit the 2022 festivities just as, when mayor, he appropriated the London Olympics (in whose organisation he similarly played no part) and Danny Boyle’s acclaimed ceremony. “Lighthearted, respectful and, above all, 楽しげ,” is the Windsor pageant motto.

It will have a “fun element”, the BBC reports, “to act as a counterpoint to the pandemic the nation has been experiencing”. This seems quite a claim, even for horse therapy. Though at least, being largely equine, that fun element cannot be spoiled by fuel shortages. そうでもなければ, by then, we’ve also run out of hay.

Festival 22, formerly the Festival of Brexit, the other major component in this orgy of celebration, could be, as befits a legacy from Theresa May, a less promising platform. There are no uniforms, no flypasts, no certainty, 平, of flags. While Tony Blair’s Dome and millennium festivities were contemporaneously recognised as vacuous, unwanted and extravagant, Festival 22 faces the additional complication of terrible timing amid economic decline and, possibly as some sort of 警告, Johnson’s elevation of Nadine Dorries. The plan, if still unaffected by the woke-hating star of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, is for 10 diverse creative projects whose providing groups are presumably grappling already with their essential function: to bury Brexit and promote the Conservatives.

The pageant master, or “Chief Creative Officer”, is Martin Green; his visionary triplet, “Open, 元の, Optimistic”. Bad luck, The Waste Land. Any triumphs will duly become Johnson’s gifts to a grateful nation. Less effective opiates can be ignored or blamed on wokeism, lefties, doomsters – the usual suspects. No pressure then, but with the jubilee and sports both of the trusted panem et circenses variety, as Johnson certainly conceives of them, it’s left to Festival 22 teams to create public engagement that at least frustrates political appropriation.

Though it’s not too late for amateurs to plan, with some simple floats and costumes, their own levelling-up pageant, a story featuring everything from, 例えば, David Cameron wheedling around a Saudi campfire to a social-distancing demonstration by Matt Hancock, Stanley and Boris Johnson as (vital educational input) Gepetto and Pinocchio and Nadine Dorries and her payrolled daughters as the three graces.

The parade might end, more conventionally, with some inspirational Shakespeare – “This precious stone set in the silver sea” – during which, connecting past with present, a tanker load of untreated sewage is ceremonially released into a popular bathing spot. The key words in any decent Johnson pageant being shit, shambolic and, above all, 恥ずかしい.

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