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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head  

London’s far too exclusive already, so don’t start charging people for the New Year’s Eve fireworks

Mary Dejevsky
So far Ebola has caused 2,600 fatalities and infected more than 5,300 people  

To stop Ebola killing thousands more, we need doctors who are willing to put their lives on the line

Peter Popham
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week