TOO WEIRD FOR WORDS

The children went back to school today after the longest Easter holidays ever – with two bank holidays thrown in for good measure. But as I struggle to get back into a routine I am not helped by the fact that last weekend was one of the weirdest ever. If you were a visitor from outer space who arrived on Earth late last week, you would have been gobsmacked at just how ‘uncivilized’ and peculiar life on earth really is.

The weekend began with the best of stories – love – with the marriage of the beautiful girl, Catherine Middleton to her Prince Charming. Her new husband, William is of course the son of the late Princess Diana – one of the most famous and most loved women on the planet in the 20th century. The spectacle of the Royal Wedding lifted hearts and focused our attention on the human need for love and connection. It also perhaps has brought some healing to the house of Windsor who for the last few decades seems to have been wracked by scandal and divorce and rifts. Friday was the best of days… we the world watched Britain do what it does best – pageantry and ceremony and we shared, at a distance, the celebration and hope that a good wedding should evoke.

Saturday was uneventful and was followed by Sunday and the beatification of Pope John Paul II. How to explain this concept to our visitor from Outer Space? I kind of doubt that God holds with the making of saints. I feel fairly sure that hierarchies are very much a human idea and dare I say it, a male one at that, even if it is a hierarchy of goodness. I don’t remember Jesus scoring the disciples on their ‘goodness’. But back to our friend from outer space – even if we could explain the concept of sainthood, venerating a vial of blood might just cause problems. As for retrieving his 6 year’s dead body to bring it to the church again – what’s that about? Can we also explain the simple wooden coffin amid all the priceless splendour of the Vatican? What’s the message there? The men who put this ‘show’ together are all the most ardent followers of Jesus Christ, apparently. Have they forgotten that he was a radical free thinker who lived in a humble life in Israel 2,000 years ago? Does anyone really think he would be happy with the goings on in Rome – at any time, never mind last weekend? Anyway that was Sunday!

Roll on Bank Holiday Monday and we all awake to the news that US Special Forces have, after 10 years of searching, finally tracked down, killed and buried Osama Bin Laden. All this happened in the space of a few hours. The internet goes wild with speculation and the chatter on Twitter reaches a new high as word spreads. The talk is of Navy Seals, Black Hawk Helicopters and photos of the US Administration watching live the events unfolding in a hereto unknown town called Abbotabad in Pakistan. I can understand the urge for New York City to celebrate but nevertheless scenes we saw of chanting and flag waving are something we are far more used to seeing from Middle East. But more than anything else I was struck by one of those pictures from the ‘situation room’ in the White House. Gathering around, in an informal group were the men of the American Administration all watching the live events from Abbotabad. In the centre of the picture was Hilary Clinton, the only woman and the only person present registering shock and horror. Her hand is clasped over her mouth and her eyes wide open. At times like this I really do wish that the Feminist Movement had really changed the world of politics and that women were in charge of a different way of doing things. And I am reminded of a quotation of Ghandi “an eye for an eye, renders the whole world blind.”

Actually never mind our friend from Outer Space… I am punch drunk from the events of this weekend. I suddenly feel as if I am not of this planet… after the uplift from watching and enjoying the Royal Wedding, the weirdness of the fast tracked beatification of Pope John Paul II with vials of blood and retrieval of his dead body and then the killing of Osama Bin Laden I am feeling very strangely alien on this planet I call home.

THE BIG FAT ROYAL WEDDING

So here we are…. Royal Wedding Week. Across the water, William and Kate host the biggest Reality TV spectacle of the decade on Friday. I have no problem in saying that I will definitely watch the wedding – perhaps not live – but I will not miss all the hoopla as the British Monarchy embark on the latest chapter in the story of the House of Windsor.

We in Ireland have long been fascinated by the British Royals – not everyone I know, but I would hazard a guess that most of us have an interest in goings on of the UK’s top family. And we here in Ireland have the comfort of being able to have front row seats for their unfolding dramas without having to bother with wondering if Monarchy is a good idea or worth the tax payers money. We get the entertainment without the moral dilemma. And let’s be honest the British Royals provide far more glamour than an episode of either Coronation Street or Eastenders.

There have been a few Royal Weddings since the 29th of July 1981, but none matched the spectacle of Charles and Diana’s nuptials. At the time I was working for JWT in their office at the bottom of Grafton Street. My manager was determined that although we were working we would see the Royal wedding. Now (for young readers) this was way before computers and live streaming! What to do? Being a very resourceful woman, my manager reapplied her lippy, gave herself a quick spray of cologne and off she went up Grafton Street. About 15 minutes later she arrived back with a nice young man from Radio Rentals (or some such shop) who was clutching a TV and rabbits ears. We were all set. It was a bit fuzzy but it was colour and it was live. We missed nothing.

Diana and Charles wedding was very much of its time. She arrived looking nervous but ecstatic in a huge creation of taffeta and ruffles with a 25 foot long train. Watching the footage of that wedding, we can see where the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings took their inspiration from!

From then on, people all over the world were fascinated by Diana. Her vulnerability which was so evident on her wedding day never left her. But she learned quickly to couple it with a savvy understanding of how the media works and she used both attributes to great effect. Her influence shook the British Monarchy to its very core. Her impact was immense.

So as I settle down to watch the Big Fat Royal Wedding on Friday, I will be wondering what Diana is making of it all and wondering what effect Kate Middleton will have on the family Diana used to refer as The Firm!

Bring it on!

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