Joanna Briscoe: At the Sharp End

Cavorting Sloanes and limelight junkies - but at least they keep us in commemorative mugs


God save our gracious Queen and her heaving brood of chavs.

Now that the stern old matriarch's in her dotage and statistically more in danger of going ga ga - though no signs of that yet, ma'am - she's been farmed out to sheltered housing in Windsor well before any dribbling might set in. Her bleeding gentian lipstick off our screens, the spotlight falls naturally upon the younger generation: a cat-fighting, boozing, gun-toting rabble almost guaranteed to provide Footballers' Wives levels of entertainment for the forthcoming season.

Must the show go on?

Hurrah! The royal soap is truly hotting up again. About bloody time. After its Diana-goes-Eurotrash heyday, we've had an extended wilderness period with only that Sophie-someone marrying the effeminate bald son we're not interested in. Camilla kicked up ratings very mildly with her postponed wedding, but it was nothing on tampongate. The show always seemed like pure soap to we folks at home with our tea-towels tucked into our collars over a telly supper: a princes' mother cavorting with son of millionaire Harrods' owner on yachts; limelight-gorging royal butlers; Sloanes and toe-jobs; multiple divorces; James Hewitt; burning castles and Paris car crashes. It looked like it was scripted at Elstree, but oh my Gawd, it was actually happening.

OK, it's not quite as pumping now, but you can't have "Who Shot JR?" every week, and some juicy ingredients are brewing. We've got the delicious spectacle of two randy young chargers and their fillies rampaging through the tabloids, charging round military parades, crashing into lap-dancing joints, and braying in nightclubs. The Windsors for the spring 2006 season is a cunning merger of reality TV and soap opera.

Beyond the soapish aspect, all life can be observed in The Windsors. It contains just as many brain-dead chavs and limelight junkies as a standard episode of Big Bruv. William's the beautiful toff, Harry's the thick squaddie, and Kate and Chelsy are the new Di and Fergie. We've long mourned the disturbed romantic heroine that was Diana and the royal fool that was Fergie. Now we've got their replacements: a plain-faced young lady the press is pretending is pretty, and a bling-draped, frosted, snubby-nosed Uber-chav with colourful family connections. Thank God for that. I can now pick up the Daily Mail in a caff and enjoy it again.

Kate! She enjoys shopping with her mum! She doesn't seem to have a proper job! Glorious stuff. She looks like a bog-standard boarding school girl in Jigsaw clothes, but William Windsor fancies her, so that's all that matters. There's also a suspicion that her parents (mail order business; Berkshire) might be a touch too thrilled at the way events have panned out, which jacks up the back story nicely.

Celebrities in the raw

On to Chelsy, the Coleen of the piece - the Chantelle, the Chardonnay - the permatanned colonial missy who's brought some foreign spice into the picture. Splendid! With her Zimbabwean origins and her Shazzy name, its spelling dicked-around-with to the point that she can enter Burberry heaven any time she chooses, she's the real face of The Royals now Pauline Fowler's locked up in Windsor. Long live them new Slater sisters! And the great thing is that Kate and Chelsy weren't chosen by Simon Cowell to be famous; they're not airbrushed and skin-peeled to death: these are celebrities in the raw.

Since Lady Di, the Royals have deliciously mutated into a family like everyone else's, with unreliable rellies, embarrassingly named in-laws, divorced partners slagging each other off, wastrels, mean tippers and drunk army lads. You'd move away from them on a train. They look like one of them might steal silver off their aunt.

As a lazy republican - yes, of course the monarchy is a howling anachronism, and as for Chelsy's security guards, I for one don't want to pay for Harry's shag - I can't be bothered to get too worked up about the Windsors when they bring in commemorative mug revenue and provide me with a good brain-numbing when I need a computer break.

Only Brenda knows how to behave, and behave bloody impeccably she has for over half a century. Happy birthday, ma'am. God save our gracious Queen. And feel free to pap the rest so we can have more larfs.

Towering genius

On to Dame Muriel Spark. She was a raving, towering genius, and even in death, the extent of her talent has not been fully acknowledged. I was always banging on about the fact that we had Shakespeare in our midst, and now she's dead. Bugger it. I wish I'd left fan letters in her olive grove. She should have been rated as a living treasure, like Lucian Freud, like Rushdie or McEwan, but she hared off to live on a Tuscan hilltop and she was a girl, so she wasn't.

The first sentence of one obit referred to her "humorous novels", not a "darkly" in sight, which sums up part of the problem. Spark was be-damed, she was feted, but she was also viewed as a writer of slim novels with a light touch. If she'd had a penis, she'd have been canonised. I vote we create St Muriel's Day, for bunking off work and re-reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in awed silence.

"Sleep With Me", a novel by Joanna Briscoe, is published in paperback by Bloomsbury in June (£7.99)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

John Noakes was everyone’s favourite presenter in the 1970s. It’s a shock to realise the eternal boy scout is now an octogenarian suffering from dementia  

How remarkable that John Noakes still has the power to affect me so

Matthew Norman
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy