Saturday, September 02, 2006

Diana ! O, Diana !

Three years ago I noted that the sixth anniversary of Diana's death had passed with hardly a ripple of attention.

Now Hywel Williams has noticed, too. But the comments are the most telling - reminders of those hysterical days.

"I well remember the morning of Diana's funeral. I went for a ride on my motorbike round the streets of south London, utterly empty as though in a scene from a disaster film, and wondered what madness had overcome my fellow citizens. Sorry, subjects."

"The day of the funeral I dedicated to motorcycling and rode from the Midlands to Wales with nearly no traffic away from the Motorways, in fact I saw a few other bikes but only one or two cars. In fact it seemed that the majority of the population had disappeared that morning."

"Well, I walked rather than rode a motorbike. I was going to browse in a friend's bookshop, who had defiantly announced he was not going to shut up shop in mourning. But when I arrived, the shop was indeed closed, like all the other shops in town. When I asked why, he told me he had received threats when it became known he was defying the national madness."

"Yes, I was very sad at Diana's death. It's always sad when a young life is lost because of not wearing a seatbelt."

And commenter snowflake revives the People Power myth in full strength. You'd never guess that Major in 1992 got more votes than Blair in 1997. But it's worth a read because it encapsulates neatly the media class fantasy.

"I think this article completely misses the point of the events of 1997. It wasn't really about Diana, and it wasn't really about Blair (he'd only been in his job a few months and hadn't yet got to grips with the full extent of the PM's power).

No, it was about the massive power of the Demos. First they'd sent a mailed fist smashing through the conservative government, and not just threw them out, but humiliated them. In the early evening you had Portillo on TV positioning himself for a leadership bid, and in the early hours of the morning he was gone. The chairman of the 1992 committee (somebody Lane-Fox?) got defeated by an 18-year old Labour chap who hadn't expected to get elected, and Lane-Fox was on TV saying dazed, "he's too young, he's too young", and was clearly affronted that his constituents thought he was worth less than an 18-year old.

And then the public, giddy with power, turned on the Monarch during Diana's death. It wasn't about Diana really - they just used the occasion to bring the Queen to heel, forcing her to lower her flag on the Palace, forcing her to come back to London, even forcing her to bow her head to Diana's coffin, as the cortege drove past (what it must cost the Queen, who hated Di). Remember that people had only found out a few years earlier that the Queen was not paying tax, whereas Queen Victoria had done so, and people were generally cross with the monarchy, esp as they seem more old-fashioned than Victoria. It was about sending a warning to the monarch.

That year was pure People Power, we've never seen anything like it before or since."


Anonymous said...

I am glad I am not the only one that was stunned by the collective madness that overtook this country. I still believe that a lot of this is down to people having given up on religion but having found nothing to replace it with.

JohnM said...

When I asked why, he told me he had received threats when it became known he was defying the national madness.

Colour me unconvinced.

I was at the shops on the day of the funeral - "Do It All" or some such. It and several others were open. I agree it was very quiet but I imagine after the funeral cars drove up the motorway most TV mourners went out to do their shopping as per usual.

These sort of commentators always spoil a story with a uncheckable papably-false anecdote.

garypowell said...

I went fishing on that day in Thanet. The most peacefull day of my entire life in Britain. And Bagged-up.

IMHO the reason for this mass hysteria was the BBC and the rest of the MSM. Which is also the reason why it has not happened since. Will also not happen again whatever happens for a long while.

The BBC had finally after 18 years got its people in power and was on a power trip, which they did not expect to end so quickly.

If the BBC could get an authoritarian socialist government elected in Britain, destroying the peoples respect for the only institution to survive left wing domination would be a doddle. Which it was.

The BBC is an authoritarian socialist organisation that functions at its most vindictive when it has confidence in an authoritarian socialist governing party backing up its imoral funding scam. Turkeys would not vote for christmas, so does not the BBC.

As an institution the BBC are small c conservatives that know which side their bread is buttered. Which is as far away from all the small c conservatives out here as it is possible to get.

When Thatcher passes on I will be there on the streets at the funeral even if its on new years day in the snow. Even if its reported by the BBC for 10 seconds after the sports news at 3 in the morning. PROMISS.

Verity said...

I was livid to drive to Safeway that day and find it closed out of "respect". What did that mean? No "respect" for customers who needed to pick up groceries. But "respect" for someone they didn't know, had never seen in person, who led a louche life to say the least, and who died in a car crash. How did they dare try to force their "respect" on meby making it impossible for me to shop during legal shopping times?

I never went back to Safeway. From then on, I went to any other supermarket, although Safeway had the best parking. But they never got any more of my trade.

Martin said...


Comments such as yours display another problem with the current national mentality of the British.

You expect someone to be there to serve you, regardless of how inconsequential your request, at all times of the day and night. You have deliberately inconvenienced yourself for nearly a decade because a retailer failed to do on one occasion.

In the intervening years, have you stopped for a second to consider that some of those who worked in Safeway might have wanted to watch the funeral? And if their deire to do so means that they are less intelligent than yourself, or if their lives have presented them with fewer opportunities than you have had, then they really should pitied rather than scorned? Have such thoughts ever occurred to you, or is your life all about just getting what you want where you want when you want it?

If the answer to the first part is 'No and the second part 'Yes', then congratulations - you're a model citizen.

dearieme said...

A friend of mine got married on the day of the funeral. Her hairdresser refused to do the promised work on the morning of the wedding. "How can you ask me to....?"

Verity said...

Martin hectors: "You expect someone to be there to serve you, regardless of how inconsequential your request, at all times of the day and night."

No, Martin. I expect places of business to honour the hours posted on their doors. This is a contract a business makes with a customer. "Here are the times you can come here and be assured that we are stocked up and ready to serve you." Safeway broke that trust. Your argument, if such it is, is hectoring and ill-informed.

No, sweet thang, I haven't deliberately inconvenienced myself for a decade. I buggered off out three or four months later.

I do believe in punishing businesses that break their contract with the customer and I never shopping in Safeway again during those few months.

If Diana had been worth a day of official mourning, I would have been irritated, but OK. She was the mother of the heir to the throne. But it was supposed to be a normal workday. Customers had a right to expect businesses to be open unless they had announced closure in advance. Safeway didn't. They said they wouldn't close. Then they closed.

BTW, Martin, frankly I don't give a damn if Safeway employees wanted to watch the boring funeral of an empty woman. They should have rest assured in the certain knowledge that it would be repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated .....

BTW, I enjoyed the egotistical impertinence of your triumphant closing sentence: " If the answer to the first part is 'No and the second part 'Yes', then congratulations - you're a model citizen." What a bossy little hoot you are!

dearieme - That is horrible! Those people who thought cheap sentimentality was somehow noble and showed how deep they were disgused me. I hope your friend never patronised that hairdresser again. What a thing to do to a bride on her wedding day!

Anonymous said...

Verity - as Safeway (in the UK) is now part of Morrisons does that mean your self-imposed ban is over?

Funnily enough I was working at a wedding at the time of the funeral, driving a wedding Rolls (I only the second car, took the bridesmaids). It was very odd, roads empty etc.

Verity said...

Anonymous 3:25. I have no idea about supermarket ownership in Britain. I have been long gone.

If I'd still been there, I would probably have gone back once Safeway had changed hands. I despised them for their cheap sentimentality and the fact that they had said they would be open. Then bowed to cheap, emotional bullying.

Harry Powell said...

As a mark of respect I stayed in bed that morning.

Martin said...


I hate to disabuse you, but in the broadest sense shops don't have contracts with their customers.

As you are free to shop where you wish, so to are shop owners free to close their own premises should the occasion arise.

It's one of the few remaining privileges that still attaches to bearing commercial risk.

So...why should anyone heed any opinion you express about anything that happens here?

I'll take the ad hominem insult of 'bossy little hoot' no doubt in the joshing spirit in which it's intended - although your injunction that you 'don't give a damn if Safeway employees wanted to watch the boring funeral of an empty woman' makes my point.

Are you an expat, by any chance?

Verity said...

No,Martin, my reference to your hectoring, bossy, not to say bullying nature was an accurate reflection of my opinion of you - or your blogging personality.

If a shop says it will be open for trading at 9:00 or whenever, and its customers desert it because it doesn't keep its word - which augurs will for other promises said shop might make, it deserves to lose its customers. "I hate to disabuse you, but in the broadest sense shops don't have contracts with their customers." I wasn't speaking "in the broadest sense" obviously. It is a tacit agreement to be available to trade during the hours posted.

There wasn't a national emergency. There was plenty of petrol to get goods to market. The freezers were all working. But they chose to try to bully their customers into sharing their empty, downmarket feelings. I didn't join in the disgraceful national display. I was genuinely indifferent regarding whether Diana was alive or dead. Why should I be forced into some vapid obeisance?

I said I was no longer living in Britain. That means I'm expat. One of the two million or so who have scarpered since Tony slithered under the door of No 10.

James said...

Mojo Nixon does a moving tribute to Diana in the song "Drunk Divorced Floozie."

A must-hear.

Stuart said...

It was a deeply sad day, for two reasons.

We had to drive all over the city looking for a chemist open to dispense the pain relieving drugs my wife needed; apparently the funeral of a rich and vain young woman 200 miles away was more important than providing medication to local people.
Just be thankful her condition (those agonisingly painful) wasn't life threatening eh?

That done, it was off to the police station to turn in her .22 revolver so that the streets of Britain would become as safe and crime free as they are today.

Don't worry JohnM, the circus will be back in town for the Thatcher funeral too, complete with wall to walll BBC coverage and crocodile tears from Blair and the First Lady......and timed to coincide with the release of the latest crime figures/immigration statistics/terrorist suspects/ministerial scandal.

Im glad we got out too, if you think the Diana mor-binge was bad, just imagine what it will be like when the Queens turns her toes up ;~(

Martin said...

Verity dearest, you have to the gall to try and shout me down while writing that you're 'genuinely indifferent regarding whether Diana was alive or dead' - human life, any human life, clearly menas very little to you.

Thank you for confirming that you no longer reside in the UK. It's just that I have no regard for the words of those who complain about this society while no longer living here.

JohnM said...

Don't worry JohnM, the circus will be back in town for the Thatcher funeral too

I'm not sure what to make of this.

I have no particular liking for Diana and thought the national psychosis was frankly disturbing. I actually was working in Paris when she died and conspiracy theories were being exchanged before 24 hours had passed. I thought Dalrymple's essay was pretty good.

Now for my own Diana anecdote.

I was working in a Leeds oncology hospital, which was visited by Diana pre-divorce. Everywhere was newly decorated prior to her visit. That is everywhere that she would go, which meant that when a corridor turned a corner to a non-visited place, the new paint would abruptedly stop.

New parts of the hospital were linked to the old by a glass bridge. On the day of the visit, each side of the glass bridge was lined by nurses. Folklore immediately determined that this was so that a nurse would get the sniper's bullet. Being left wing in those days, I was instantly convinced.

Diana's visit was overwhelmingly popular. So much so that I was able to swop shifts and get a coveted weekend slot instead. In my naivity I was was surprised that the biggest fan of all was a middle aged West Indian nurse, who took the day off so that she could come in to work in her Sunday best. Strangely enough not only did she talk to Diana, but she was about the only nurse shown on Calendar.

Verity said...

martin - Do not address me as "dearest" you patronising nitwit.

The conclusion you draw from my indifference to the death of the vain and self-regarding Diana are beyond parody. Because I wasn't very interested in Diana or her car crash, you infer from that that I have no regard for human life. Do you understand how infantile that trajectory of thought is?

I said in my original posts that I had slung my hook a few months after they planted Diana. I referred to my absence from the country again, later, in context. Martin then asked, with an air of great cleverness: Are you an expat? Um, yes, Sherlock. When you live in another country, that means you're an expat.

He adds: "It's just that I have no regard for the words of those who complain about this society while no longer living here."


Anonymous said...

Zip it Verity