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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star