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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WHO KILLED THE HARRIERS?

This week brought us my favorite British costume drama, the State Opening Of Parliament. Last year I wrote extensively on the ceremony, so I won't repeat the process this time around except to make two points. First, nobody does oddball ceremony like the Brits. Second, when you see all these civil servants dressed up like elaborately costumed characters from Alice in Wonderland, it's not hard to imagine why the British empire collapsed on its own weight.

I'm an avid watcher of the British House of Commons on C-SPAN. It really is some of the best reality based entertainment on TV. And the British accents make it seem much less sleazy than American politics. I'm slowly getting used to the new cast of characters, but Gordon Brown just isn't as entertaining as Tony Blair.

But State Opening isn't about new characters or entertainment, it's about old ceremony and tradition. And one curious tradition is one carried out by a Labor MP named Dennis Skinner. He's been in Parliament about as long as I've been alive, and he's one of the chamber's most colorful characters. He's regularly suspended from parliament for saying nasty things.

During the State Opening of Parliament, this guy named Black Rod comes into the House of Commons and requests the MPs come to the House of Lords to hear the Queen's speech. For a few decades now, it has been tradition for Dennis Skinner to make a wise crack immediately following Black Rod's request.

Last year, Skinner said, "Is Helen Miren on standby?" But this year he said, "Who shot the harriers?" I saw the movie "The Queen," so I got last year's joke. I don't understand this year's joke at all. Is the Queen shooing down harriers? The jet? The minor league football team?

I'm in over my head. Limeys, can you help a Yank out?

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2 Comments:

At 5:19 am, Blogger Birchsprite said...

I wrote about it last week...

go and have a look

http://birchsprite.blogspot.com/2007/11/apparently-if-you-are-member-of-british.html

Basically Prince Harry was allegedly involved in the shooting of a protected Bird of Prey... which was hushed up

 
At 8:24 pm, Blogger Workman said...

Oh. I actually read that post, but didn't make the connection until now.

 

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