Simon Kelner: Flagging up a decline which patriotism can't arrest

Kelner's view

Share
Related Topics

So how was it for you, these four days of celebration, contemplation and jubilation? Were you surprised how surprised Paul McCartney always looks these days? Did you feel a sense of betrayal by our weather, directed by a force even more influential than Her Majesty?

Did you wonder at the light show when Madness were playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace? Did you despair at the tide of bilge that floated down the Thames with the royal party, manufactured by the flotilla of TV commentators and pundits? Did you have an attack of patriotism at the sight of all those flags and bunting? And, at the end of it all, did it make you feel more British? On Monday night, under a big, bright moon, I stood on the top of a hill in Oxfordshire watching a beacon being set aflame, and, as the gathering of people burst into a spontaneous rendition of the national anthem, I must say I felt something. I'm not quite sure whether it was raw patriotism, but it was definitely a sense of shared endeavour, or even struggle. Up and down the country, there was a level of communal engagement that you won't normally experience outside a World Cup. (It had the added benefit, too, of not having a crushing anti-climax, unless, of course, you count Jimmy Carr managing to keep it clean for The Queen.) But while beacons were being lit and fireworks let off, something was, sadly and ironically, being put to rest. In yesterday's paper, Robert Smith of Surrey eloquently mourned the demise of The Queen's English Society. What a weekend on which to call time on a voluntary organisation that, for 40 years, has stood as a bulwark against falling standards in the use of English. Almost as depressing as the fact of its closure was the reason behind it: basically, no one could be bothered (bovvered?) any more.

In the era of the Big Society, when we're to rely on volunteers to preserve our quality of life, the Queen's English Society is disbanding because just 22 people attended its annual meeting, and no one stepped forward to take any of the major posts. Who's now going to police the creeping Americanisation of our language? As Mr Smith said yesterday on our letters page (actually, should that be letters' page?), "we should resist accommodating the arrogance of approximate verbal skills". Quite right, I say. And I speak as a man whose teeth are put on edge by someone using a split infinitive in speech!

So let's have a war on the use of "amazing". Or, on the adjective used incessantly by BBC commentators over the weekend: "iconic". This is not pedantry. But this is: in the statement delivered by the chair of the Queen's English Society, she said that one of the reasons for her organisation's decline was that "lives have changed dramatically over the last 40 years". Surely, that should be the past 40 years.

You're right. Who cares?

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones