Morwenna, are you feeling safe?
I don’t understand.
Don’t understand what?
Years ago, when I was very ill, and was living in a psychiatric residential care home, if one of the support-workers caught me looking a certain way, they’d put a hand on my shoulder and softly say, Morwenna, are you feeling safe? And it would bring me ‘back’ – these people were looking after me, and I didn’t want to let them down. Or let them find my corpse. But it also made me feel that, yes, I was ill, there was something wrong with me, I wasn’t like everyone else, and it didn’t matter if I failed, or got into drunken rages, or wasted (?) days in bed, crying. It was okay to not feel okay. It didn’t matter what I did. It took the pressure off. Until I slid back into depression – if it doesn’t matter what we do (‘I’ had a tendency to morph into ‘we’), we may as well be dead. And round I would go.
There’s a certain safety in feeling repressed. In feeling second best. In feeling like there’s someone better than you. More powerful than you. That there’s a gatekeeper you need to impress to feel validation. It gives you something to strive towards, while – paradoxically – giving you a reason to feel hard-done-by. Because if you feel hard-done-by, and everything is someone else’s fault; like you’re unlucky; like the universe is against you, then nothing is your fault. I know this, because from time to time, I catch myself lying back into the comforting mud of self-pity. It makes no difference what I do.
In the same way, it doesn’t matter what I write, because no one will read it anyway. The internet makes me feel like I have a voice, but that’s just a cover-up of theirs, because really there is someone listening, someone watching my words, waiting to pounce when they think I’m getting dangerous. There are no fans and supporters, just government agents, secretly looking for signs of dissent. There are thirty-three million books on Amazon: everyone’s vying for space, for recognition; everyone has a blog, and who the fuck cares about reading blogs – unless you’re a bit of a stalker? So, I’m writing this into the void, essentially. Ugh.
This blog comes about because of the Queen’s funeral. I felt I ought to write something about it. That as a writer, it’s my duty to ‘document’, but also that I need to post something on social media to feed my languishing algorithm. I worried for ages that my views on monarchies would lead to fewer book sales. Which is the only reason for my website in the first place, isn’t it? To sell books? Then I realised that no one will read this anyway, but in posting this blog I have done my ‘job’ of having an internet presence, so I don’t have to worry about being in breach of contract, and I could shout into the void, because, let’s face it, it’s no different than flicking the Vs at someone once they’ve left the room: it releases the anger and you feel a bit better.
So. The Queen. It is ‘sad’ when someone dies. There are a lot of emotions flying around. Imagine King Charles III: to get his dream job and fulfil his ‘destiny’ he has to lose his mother. I have no idea what their relationship was like, but if he loved his mum like I loved mine, he must be in bits – in which case, hats off for shaking people’s hands and making public addresses. Or, he might have been champing at the bit waiting for his mother to die so he could wear the special hat. He might think that ‘God’ appointed his family as rulers, so everything he does – and everything we do, in paying our taxes to pay his wages for example, in waving flags and singing the queeny song as my five-year-old calls it – is done in the line of duty, as it were.
But how much – if any – difference will King Charles III make? And what did the Queen – this apparetly amazing woman – actually do? It’s the other Liz – Truss – who decides what direction this country takes, isn’t it? What does a working day for our monarch actually entail?
Some – myself included – would say that our new king comes from a looooong line of invaders who took over the country, appointed themselves leaders and then invented a silly rule that said that the first born (son) would succeed the throne for ever and ever, amen. Charles is random: it could have been me, you, the guy on the till in Tesco. And what would I, you or the guy on the till, do? Having a monarch takes the pressure off, while simultaneously, giving us someone to love. Worship. Long to reign over us.
I think about the story on the news a while back – about the old lady who travelled about on buses all day because she couldn’t afford to heat her home. That Boris (Johnson) was quick to point out that it was the Tory government that had given her her free bus pass, or she’d have had to pay for that as well. I think about all the homeless people who ‘they’ managed to clear off the streets and find homes for during the covid lockdowns but are now left on the pavements again, like discarded takeaway coffee cups, and cigarette butts. And I think of the Queen’s funeral. I think of people who are living in fear of the winter cold because of the rising cost of living, yet who have managed to afford the trip to London, and a little plastic Union Jacks/Flags, whatever you want to call them, to wave at a box containing (presumably) a dead woman.
But everyone likes a party, don’t they? Give us Euphoria.
And when I tell someone what I’ve been writing this morning, they’ll say bloody hell! Sounds like you could do with a drink, and off we’ll pop to the pub to keep the wheels of the economy rolling.
But the whole system works for me, too, because my anger makes me feel alive; but I haven’t acted. I haven’t started the revolution I wish someone else would start. I have no power. I write into the void. Which is a lovely excuse not to act. What can I do? Nothing I do makes any difference.
But what could Queen Elizabeth do? I wonder what she was like, really. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t wished to escape their circumstances at some point in their life. Was Elizabeth any different? Or are the Royal Family made from ‘better’ stuff than the rest of us? I imagine Lilibet at thirteen, caught in her bedroom with a bottle of wine she stole from her parents’ cupboard, jumping up off her bed, defiant, screaming, I don’t want to be the fucking queen! I want to get on a plane to Greece and go and stay with my boyfriend!
But if you’re Queen, sweety, you can do anything you want. You can fly to Greece at the drop of a hat. You’ll never have to clean a toilet in your life. Or nip down to Tesco for a bottle of wine to take the edge off.
Maybe if I play along, I can use this power for Good, thinks the princess.
Chances are, it didn’t happen like that, but then you never know what’s going on behind closed and locked and guarded palace gates.
Charles could abolish the monarchy and bridge the rich/poor divide, couldn’t he (yes, I am aware they do a lot for charidee)? And if he couldn’t, who’s really in control?
And wouldn’t humans revert to type what ever system of government they had?
We’re intelligent animals. The emphasis being on animals. We’d still all want a voice. We’d still all think we know what’s best for everyone else. And someone would rise up and take control, and we’d try to be utilitarian again – doing the best we can for the majority. Which, at the end of the day, is as much as you can do. (Isn’t it?) Maybe it’s better-the-devil-you-know.
Maybe the Queen was trapped, forced to put on a smile and chat to people who’s views she despised. Maybe she loved it, and thought her life was her divine right. Maybe she was just trying to do the best she could with what she had. Maybe she’d not really dead. Maybe she never existed. (Yes, I did what the BBC series, The Capture, recently. I’ve just finished Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square, too, and am now reading the excellent Counterpoint by Michelle Cook. And – on the off-chance I haven’t been writing into the void – you know I love Muse, and so have had Will of the People playing in my car since it was released. Yes, I have friends who are conspiracy theorists; and friends who are full of love for Qu- King and Country. And yes, I know it’s all in your mind.)
But maybe all this is destiny. Maybe humans were supposed to be the destruction of the earth, in the same why that the meteor killed off the dinosaurs. Maybe the world’s turning exactly as it was designed to/meant to, and I have every right to buy that plastic bottle containing 500ml of Diet Coke, for £1.89, and then chuck it in the bin like a good citizen. But those words – supposed, designed, meant – imply that someone/thing is in control. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, though. I don’t believe that the dinosaurs were really dragons, and someone’s covered it up. But, having said that, I wouldn’t rule it out!
And if someone has covered it up for some secret reason, then the ensuing questions will blow my mind, but the washing machine will have finished its cycle, and then it will be time to make lunch, and then I’ll have to pick my little boy up from school, and then someone will say, pub later? And I’ll go. The will of the people, or the will of the person? And is there any will involved at all?
We’ll sit in the pub in the warm, and chat about our kids and our partners and what fun things we’ve got lined up for the coming weeks. The wheel will turn and we won’t know why, so we’ll play our part, and drink some wine to take the edge off.
When you’re in a psychiatric residential care home, they make you do chores. (Or at least, they did when I was a resident.) They make you cook and wash and clean and go to the supermarket and do the normal things everyone has to do to live. Because that will make you feel better, and keep you functioning in society. Arbeit macht frei.
And one day, your kid will come home from school complaining that all they’re allowed to drink there is water, and you’ll say that’s because water is the best thing for you to drink, knowing that while this is true – for the moment at least – water is free. And your kid will retort, well I’m not drinking water anymore! It’s made from dinosaur wee! And you’ll laugh, and feel happy. This is what life’s about, you’ll think, not all that other confusing shit. And then you’ll hug your child, which will make them feel safe.
(And if you consider the second law of thermodynamics, he had a point about the dinosaur wee…)
#writerslife #queensfuneral #existentialism #muse #costofliving #dinosaurs #currentaffairs2022 #mentalhealth