These irrational sycophants need sensitive treatment

'Announcing that you're swiftly on the way to the lavatory isn't funny, grand or indomitable'
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The Independent Online

If Peter Sissons has any sense of fun, on the day of the Queen Mother's funeral he'll read the news wearing one of those ties with a picture of Bugs Bunny on the front.

Royalists claim that they're prepared for the Royal Family to move with the times. So maybe what's upset them about the BBC's announcement of the Queen Mum's death is they actually wanted Sissons to wear trainers and a Puff Daddy zip-up top with the hood up, rapping: "Listen up brothers, the Queen Mother's hit the buffers and gone under the covers from where no one recovers."

The next problem is that funerals don't make great live television because, unlike with sporting events, everyone knows the result beforehand. The presenter can't even retain an element of suspense by saying: "Here's how she'll end up, but if you don't want to know, look away now."

So the coverage will be filled with more of those interviews with old people saying, "I'll never forget it. A bloomin' great doodlebug had knocked darn the 'ole perishin' street. I was trapped under the rubble, an' someone shouted: 'Stone the crows, it's the Queen.' Well I turned round an' there she was lookin' absolutely radiant and she didn't spit in me face, although she was entitled to under the constitution in those days. And just then me arm dropped off and she said 'Oh dear what a pity', and that was the happiest moment of my life. I couldn't feel the pain, it was like she was magic. Then she got in 'er car and drove off."

And Norman St John Stevas adding: "It's often forgotten that some nights during the Second World War, the Queen Mother would take out a Spitfire and engage the Luftwaffe over the English Channel. One night she was shot down over occupied France and still managed to get back the next morning for the Changing of the Guard."

Then a member of parliament from somewhere like Workington saying: "She always held a special place in her heart for Workington. She'd have come here one day if we'd had a race course or a castle, and that's typical of the boundless sense of duty she stood for."

Then it will carry on in the same way as the live coverage of her coffin's journey from Westminster to Windsor. Hours and hours of black cars going slowly. It would make more sense to show live coverage of a lad delivering a Domino's Pizza.

It's hard to see how the TV reporters could have been any more obsequious. They all declared that anyone with a fawning tribute had "caught the public mood" and "spoke for the nation". No they didn't. They caught YOUR mood, that's all. Just because YOU'RE in a state of irrational sycophantic depression, don't make out we're all like it. I was in a similar state a few weeks ago after Crystal Palace lost 5-2 to Grimsby. I didn't go around saying: "The whole country is clearly feeling very sombre, almost as if we can't quite believe it. It's as if the entire nation is in shock, and I think my mate Dave spoke for all of us, young and old, when he said: 'They want to sack the whole bloody team. I don't even want to go up the pub tonight. I'm too gutted.'"

So couldn't someone in all this coverage find something, anything, that she could do? Given that she lived so long with such privilege you'd think she could do something, like play the bassoon or do some trick shots on a snooker table. But in all the rambling about her greatness, no one has come up with a single talent she possessed. I suppose being the Queen Mother must be like being on the dole: there's nothing much to get up for so you stay in bed later and later each day until after 101 years it's as much as you can manage to make a slice of toast before the afternoon edition of Neighbours.

One technique is to claim she was a talented wit and raconteur. For example, the chief sports writer in yesterday's Daily Mail informed us that when he met that "glorious indomitable lady", she "hurriedly greeted us, announcing she was swiftly on the way to the lavatory". Oh, how the comedy greats have made 'em roar with the classic "on the way to the lavatory" routine.

The clue to her achievement lies in her title. She was the mother of the Queen. For her daughter to become Queen didn't require many exceptional parenting skills. Not even the most slobbering royalist can have said to the Queen Mother: "Who'd have thought it? Your daughter who was born a humble princess has grown up to be Queen. Well, well, well."

But there seem to be many people who think otherwise. We shouldn't be cruel towards them, just provide them with calm and patient counselling, encouraging them to understand that announcing you're swiftly on the way to the lavatory isn't really funny, grand or indomitable, and assisting them to accept that they're a little bit mental.

Even so, I fear some are beyond help, and their next campaign will be that despite her death, we should still give her a new hip every six months out of respect.

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