#475: 1977, Sex Pistols, God Save The Queen

by Jackie_South on June 2, 2012

As a seven year-old, young Jackie South went to a silver jubilee party in a village hall in rural Essex and, as far as I can remember, enjoyed it even if the prospect of the soon to be released Star Wars seemed far more exciting.   Mum though was very enthusiastic about it all.  Of course, most of the furore about the Sex Pistols went right over my seven-year old head: the music being played in the South household that summer was Donna Summer‘s I Feel Love and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

Fast forward to my teens: Dad was furious, and Mum wouldn’t even speak to me when I told them (without using the album title itself) that I’d just bought Never Mind The Bollocks.

Fast forward again to 2 June 2012.  Today I got an email from mum: “We can’t decide whether to go to the village street party on Monday, more as a gesture to the village and organisers than to the monarchy.” How times have changed: sometime round Liz’s annus horribilis in 1992, my mum fell out of love with the royal family.

On the other hand, whilst I still believe the monarchy is an anachronism (albeit one that is difficult to shift), I’ve been going around different Jubilee events all day in my bit of London, and still have more tomorrow and Monday.

OK, I’ve been doing it as they have been a good excuse for people without a lot of money or hope nowadays to have a good party, and I’ve had to endure lectures about my lukewarm republicanism by friends born in what was once the British Empire who tell me how critical the monarchy is to the Commonwealth.

But it all feels as if somewhere along the line my mum and I have crossed paths as we travel in different directions on the monarchy.

So, to cleanse the soul I’m posting this.  Oh, and I also spent money on it on I-Tunes (for a song I already own) as a minor act of rebellion (whilst realising that the main beneficiary of this is probably Richard Branson).

I admit as a teenager it was the sticking two fingers up at the Queen and the caustic sarcasm that appealed most.  Even today, every time I have seen a Union Jack with a round picture of Lizzie in the middle I have been reminded what a brilliant piece of subversive art the Jamie Reid’s cover for the single was.

But nowadays it is the anthem for a lost generation that resonates more:

When there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers in the dustbin
We’re the poison in your human machine
We’re the future, your future”

seems as true now as it was back then, and the bleak “No future for you” refrain rings terribly true to a new lost generation growing up in Coalition Britain.


In an interview in The Guardian this week, Lydon told a story about why he wasn’t arrested along with McLaren for the riverboat gig stunt.  Whilst it’s probably untrue, it does make me feel a little better about the Branson thing I mentioned earlier.

As it happens, one of the conversations I had at one of the events today was with someone a few years older than me who as a teenager both enjoyed a Jubilee street party and going to the riverfront to watch the Pistols’ boat go up and down the Thames.

He probably wasn’t the only one to both buy into the Silver Jubilee and buy the record.

God Save The Queen.  We mean it, man…

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray_North June 3, 2012 at 6:50 am

So glad you posted this Jackie – my ‘agnostic monarchism’ continues to bug me – this reminds me of the truth I’ve left behind!


George_East June 3, 2012 at 8:54 am

‘Agnostic monarchism’! Ray, are you really still trying to get away with that. You can be a republican, a monarchist or agnostic as to the nature of our Head of State. You can’t be an agnostic monarchist. As I said before I think what you mean is that you are an embarrassed monarchist.
Whatever the virtues of the person who currently occupies the role, the monarchy is infantilising and ridiculous. By all means enjoy the street parties, but let’s not lose sight of the absurdity of ‘celebrating’ the fact that our Head of State has been in position for 60 years without the people she nominally governs ever having had a say. We are indeed subjects not citizens.


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