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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Not only is Liz Kendall a shy Tory, but her words are also likely to appeal to racists

Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff
Andy Coulson  

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)