Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Jubil-what?

JUBILEE season is upon us and from the coverage you'd be forgiven for thinking that Elizabeth II is just like Elizabeth I.

Our little white-haired granny is like that bewigged armour-plated termagant in the same way that My Little Pony is like a frothing Arabian stallion with crazy eyes who'd smash you to death in a heartbeat.

Neither was expected to become queen, but both did. Aside from the name that's about all they share.

Elizabeth I's birth led to schism in the church. Her mother was murdered, her stepmothers all died or were rejected, and she was repeatedly disowned and reinstated. She spoke six languages by the age of 11, she spent most of her life under threat of execution or assassination by her own family and she was seen as nothing more than a tool for men to marry off for political gain.

She was told, in every way, that being a girl was a disaster and she turned her femininity into triumph. She traded any chance of personal happiness for power, she started an empire, and she did it all from the age of 25 after inheriting a country which was broke. She was horrible, vicious, a despot, the world's worst dinner party guest; a far cry in every way from the modern monarch who has barely a sniff of the same DNA.

Our queen has ridden lots of horses. Um. That's about it.

She's travelled a lot, she's dealt with politicians and not put a foot wrong that we know of, but she's never worked more than three days a week if you can call it work at all and hasn't had quite the same asked of her as her namesake. I wonder if the two queens were switched in time how either would cope? I'd hope Good Queen Bess would discover condoms and have the chance to let her hair down, but I bet Brenda would struggle with balancing the Exchequer.

But still. They share a name, they both came to the throne young, and both have presided over an era of massive change. To mark the event the BBC and a panel of rather self-important people have compiled a list of 'New Elizabethans', those subjects who've done the most to change the world in the course of her reign.

And nowhere could the differences be more apparent. Liz One had Shakespeare, Drake, Cecil, Inigo Jones and Bess of Hardwick. Liz Two has got Simon Cowell and a lady who wrote a cookery book.

A glance down the Beeb's list produces a couple of 'fair enough's - McCartney and Lennon are on there, Tim Berners-Lee, Princess Di - but then anyone with a brain would splutter: "BILLY CONNOLLY? ARE YOU PULLING MY CHAIN? Germaine Greer? GOLDIE? What in the name of..."

So to save myself an embolism here is my alternative list of modern Elizabethans - the people who've really changed the world since 1952.

* Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi - for proving cancer isn't that bad.

* Prince Andrew - who's shown a little really can go a long way. About 250 times around the world, by my last count.

* Ridley Scott - for Thelma & Louise alone, never mind the rest of it.

* Cliff Richard - just for not going away. Man's like a persistent, elderly spaniel.

* Richard Dawkins - for spearheading the humanist movement in the face of frothing opposition and despite the fact blasphemy was against the law until 2008.

* Prince Philip - for making racism endearing.

* Liz Jones - for making the slow-motion car crash of her life public property and turning a massive profit out of it. Bess of Hardwick would be WELL JEL (I know I am).

* Jimmy Savile - come on, he raised £40million for charity! Forget the tracksuit, no-one else has managed that.

* Richard Branson - for being the most offensively annoying prat the nation ever produced. He's like a deluded court jester who thinks he's in charge.

* Beatrice Shilling - Men designed the Spitfire but it took a woman to tell them where they'd gone wrong. The Rolls Royce engines would stall in a dive but engineer Beatrice found the flaw and fixed it. That move won us the Battle of Britain but she's virtually unknown. She also raced motorbikes and wouldn't marry her husband until he'd lapped the circuit at 100mph. What a dame!

* Barbara Cartland - sorry, she sold twice as many books as JK Rowling.

* Herchel Smith - a researcher at the University of Manchester who found a cheap way of producing hormones, leading to the contraceptive pill and, oh yes, female emancipation from their own ovaries.
* Michael Buerk - it was his reports from the famine in Ethiopia which inspired Bob Geldof and led to Live Aid, and thus the modern global definition of overseas development aid.

* Andy Coulson - for being one of the few journalists who's probably going to bring down a government, even if it is by accident.
* Spike Milligan - for everything.

And you know what makes them New Elizabethans?

They're all going to be talked about a lot flippin' longer than Barbara Bloody Windsor.

Not an Elizabethan.