Diamond Jubilee displacement and the other Elizabeth
When you are young you believe in the tooth fairy. When you are a bit less young but still impressionable you are moved by "God Save the Queen."
In 1977 when the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee I was 10. There were parties in the street, bunting and those curious plastic red, white and blue hats. We ate jelly and crisps and it was bright and breezy with a tinge of low cost flimsy naivety that was unique to the Seventies.
The crown was cheap too; a cardboard replica of the heavy headpiece that the Queen wore during the 1953 Coronation. It was enough to win me the class crown competition even though the velvet was derived from old curtains whereas the real thing, the St. Edward's Crown, made in 1661, weighs 4 pounds and 12 ounces and is made of solid gold.
It was first used by Charles II as it had to be redesigned after the Restoration, the time the monarchy was brought back after Charles' father parted company with his head . There is speculation the lower part of the crown might be from Edward the Confessor's crown predating the Norman conquest in 1066. The Queen has not been known to wear it to ribbon cuttings and flower shows.
"Does one really have to do this dreadful north of England thing with all these commoners with bad teeth and acne?"
By the time of the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 the monarch had endured a number of deaths not to mention scandals such as the divorce of Charles and Diana, Fergie toesuckingate etc.
In the ragged East End of London I tracked down some of the people who had held street parties in 1977 for a newspaper article but found most of them staring out through net curtains at the empty streets strewn with trash. The spirit of 1977 had gone, they told me, community had been broken down bit by bit. Most of the homes were occupied by people from Pakistan and India who had little time for the Monarchy and - this bit you can't print - they would say before telling me something borderline racist that I would never dream of printing anyhow.
Still I recall a concert and a big screen in Hyde Park and wandering through the crowds feeling indefinably lost.
And in 2012 I'm simply not there for the Diamond Jubilee, neither geographically nor spiritually. I haven't even seen any TV footage. It's not that I feel ripped from Britain or her monarchy - it's been a long departure.
It's also been a while since I saw the point of Elizabeth and, to be honest, she always paled into insignificance compared to the previous monarch to bear her name.
While Elizabeth II's biggest crisis may have been whether or not to return to London after the death of Diana, as depicted in the movie, Elizabeth I was rallying the troops at Tilbury in 1588 as a massive fleet gathered off the waters of England in the form of the Spanish Armada.
"I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm."
Of course Elizabeth I was scheming and ruthless. She had to be to remain as a woman on the throne for more than 40 years in the 16th century. And while the current Queen's biggest dilemma may be what to wear at a garden party, Elizabeth 1 faced quandries such as whether to execute her cousin Mary Queen of Scots and how to bridge a religious schism created by her father.
She was also iconic with her striking appearance and shock of red hair, notwithstanding the stories that she really had black teeth and was considerably less attractive than the painters - who valued their heads - would lead us to believe.
At least she wasn't dull, although it's sometimes hard to lose Miranda Richardson's comedic portrayal of her in Blackadder.