Friday, 8 June 2007

For ignorance and incompetence, the British Royals are in a class of their own!

Ronald Reagan, Prince Charles

Many thanks to all the readers who couldn't wait to contribute to my personal debate on what it means to be English.
A couple of weeks ago this colyoom was floundering about, trying to find one definitive certainty that might be applied to the English.
Thanks to you, I am once again reminded that one thing that an Englishman can always rely on is the eagerness of the Irish to offer their thoughts on the English. Whilst none of these particular pearls of philosophical and political opinion presented anything new to me, there was one email, from John in Renmore, that separated itself from the usual bowl of hate spaghetti and post-Famine racist begrudgery to which an Englishman living in Ireland must become immune.
There are only so many times you can say
"It wasn't me. I wasn't there."
So in the end you don't bother.
Renmore John reminded me that to be English is to exist as a subject to the crown; to be a subject of the Queen, while each Irish person is a citizen of the republic.
It would be great to believe merely because the Irish are not nominally 'subjects' that they enjoy greater freedom, liberty and societal status, but we all know that is hogwash. Hierarchies exist everywhere, and my personal quest for independence from intrusive powers does not seek to dethrone our leaders, but merely to identify which ones might be least harmful.
My Gran was a staunch monarchist, and she loved to remind us of how hard life was for the Royal family. I would go as far as agree with her that if you're just looking for a quiet life, then to be born to rule might be a bit of a bummer.
For years I thought that Prince Charles was probably an okay dude. He liked his Scottish croft; did a bit of watercolour painting; wrote the odd children's book; grew his own veggies and very probably sampled a little home-grown in front of the fire of an evening.
There were stories about his ineptitude as a human being; how he had a valet who squeezed his toothpaste onto his toothbrush for him, but I pooh-poohed such talk as small-minded frippery.
During the early 1980's, had someone asked me whether I thought Ronald Reagan or Prince Charles was the most intelligent, I would have scoffed and snorted at having to make the comparison. Clearly the then US president was a mindless plastic puppet, while Prince Charles was maybe a tad eccentric, but well educated and intelligent.
How wrong I would have been.
Just after being shot in an attempted assassination, Ronald Reagan made a most fascinating entry in his (recently-released) diary:
'.then we learned I'd been shot and had a bullet in my lung. Getting shot hurts.'
Some more cruel than I might think this description of what most would consider a major life-event lacks power and poetry, but maybe it's brilliantly concise and to the point.
Whatever your criticisms may be, the man clearly knew what was going on.
Back in 1981, when Prince Charles visited Washington, President Reagan observed in his diary:
'Highlight was noon visit by Prince Charles. He's a most likeable person. The ushers brought him tea - horror of horrors - they served it our way with a tea bag in the cup. It finally dawned on me that he was just holding the cup and finally put it down on a table.'
Reagan goes on to explain that at this point, having for a while watched the heir to the British throne scrunching his nose and appearing confused, deputy Chief of Staff Mike Deaver had escorted the prince back to the White House, where appropriate apologies were made.
Perhaps because his ancestors had already lost ownership of the entire continent after a war of independence started by the Boston Tea Party, Prince Charles made an effort to minimise the chances of another tea-based international incident, by explaining:
"I didn't know what to do with it."
Good gord lord above mutha help us now. It scares the hell out of me that I could have been so wrong. The man didn't know what to do with a teabag? And there was I thinking that he was generally as able as the next person to play king to my subject.
Thanks, John in Renmore, for making me wonder once more about the Royal family, and (never thought I'd live to see the day when I said this) thanks to President Reagan, for showing me that on a scale of ignorance, stupidity, incompetence and inanity, the British Royals are truly in a class of their own!
Mind you, the yanks are well able to upset foreigners themselves, and not just by waging war against them. Major American corporations seem to specialise in thinking up potentiallyoffensive gems.
When US beer giant Coors unleashed their slogan 'Turn It Loose' on the massive Spanish-speaking market, they were clearly unaware that they were telling their potential customers to 'Suffer from Diarrhoea'.
The Coca-Cola Corporation upset millions of Thai people, by suggesting that the soft drink would 'Add Life', which translated into the local vernacular as 'Coke Will Bring Your Dead Ancestors Back To Life.'
Back in 1996, some genius in the marketing department of shoe giant Reebok decided the time was right to introduce a new woman's tennis shoe called the 'Incubus'. Just a bit of a shame, really, that nobody told them how Incubus was in fact a demon from medieval mythology who performed unspeakable sexual acts upon unwilling and unwitting women as they slept.
For my personal favourite we have to go to Brazil, where the quintessential American car brand Ford launched the 'Pinto' model with their customary multi-million dollar razzmatazz, until some gentle local soul had the courage to point out that they might just have a lickle ickle bit of a problem flogging a car that had the same name as the popular local slang term for tiny male genitals.
Anyone fancy a Peugeot Cocklet injection? How about a spin in an Alfa Romeo Fat Arse GTi?

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