Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Platers, Politics On TV, Edward VII

1. Anyone out there heard of a horse called a "plater"? It's the verified answer to a crossword puzzle clue- so it must be for real- but I've never heard of it and it's not in my dictionary.

2. Why,  when there's a political story on TV, do they always insist on showing us pictures- from every angle- of the Palace of Westminster? We know what it looks like by now- it's got one big fat tower and one tall slim tower and a clock and lots and lots of pointy-uppy things- and frankly we're sick of it. And what has Victorian gothic architecture got to do, anyway, with the budget, or the expenses scandal or ex-ministers selling themselves to lobbyists? It would make as much sense to show us close-ups of Gladstone's bum.

3. Timewatch last night gave us the life of Edward VII. It's an inspiring tale. Edward was the vile playboy who made good- a second, less calculating Prince Hal. He may not have been terribly bright, but he grokked that monarchy in the 20th century- if its continued existence was to be justified- had to serve as a national rallying point- and so needed to be (a) popular- which involved getting out and being charming to people- including rabble-rousing socialists like Keir Hardie- and (b) theatrical- with gold coaches and feathery hats and lots of lovely, new-minted ritual.  He was- as rarely happens- just the right man for the job because- unlike most of his ancestors and all of his descendants- he had natural charisma. But he wasn't just a showman, he was also intuitive.  He knew how the world was wagging- and - perhaps because he'd been up and personal with his jittery nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II-  did a great deal to prepare the country for the Great War by chivying his government to build dreadnaughts and using his personal charm to woo the French. The fascination of hereditary monarchy is that it keeps dealing wild cards- including many who would never have got within sniffing distance of power if they'd been born into any other family. Usually this elevation of the untalented and unambitious is a bad thing; sometimes, as with Edward, it turns out really well. 
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