Balance and the buttock boycott

19th May 2000 at 01:00
LIKE any responsible citizen I have been following the big kerfuffle over the BBC's refusal to transmit live coverage of next month's "Moon At The Monarchy" event outside Buckingham Palace. Evidently, trouser-droppers from all over Britain have been preparing for 18 months now and thought they had an agreement with the Beeb. No doubt we'll soon be hearing a bare-cheeked spokesman telling Radio 4 that: "This just goes to show that the BBC is totally out of touch with the wishes of ordinary republicans."

Personally I think that by refusing to schedule either June's Massed Buttock Protest or the following month's Queen Mum Luv-In Alan Yentob has performed an excellent balancing act. Not everyone in Britain wants to flash his bottom at the monarchy and not everyone wants Neighbours taken off so they can watch corporate sponsors splashing out pound;10,000 a box to wave at Prince Charles's granny. Ours is a multicultural nation and that doesn't just mean people of different colours, it also means a plurality of views on the significance of the Queen Mum's centenary.

Personally I like the Quee Mother although I don't know why Britain decided to create the post of Mother to the Head of State. Nelson Mandela did a fine job in South Africa without making his mum official. America has a first lady but there's never been a first granny to my knowledge. Still we British are famous for our loveable eccentricity. Whether we see this three-hour bash in Horse Guards Parade as the fitting tribute to a remarkable woman who has hardly put a foot wrong since 1940 or a waste of public money is a matter of opinion. Of course some people will argue that it's events like this that unite the nation but clearly the nation doesn't agree or else 18 per cent wouldn't want a republic and the bottom flashers wouldn't be preparing to march in June.

What worries me is where this leaves heads in the schools which are providing children as Horse Guards extras. Will they excuse the 18 per cent of pupils of parents who oppose this event? Will they give an equal number of days off for kids who are preparing to Moon At The Monarchy? Like Mr Yentob, one has to tread such a careful line these days.

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