I have been watching the state opening of parliament this morning. It is a wonderful, ornate, and mostly pointless ritual steeped in tradition and covered in gold and rich red robes. It makes me proud to be British and slightly embarrassed at the same time.
I mean, it is a lovely spectacle, it is part of the tradition that fuels much of our tourism, and it is wonderful to look back and remember how we have ended up with the legislative process in place today. On the other hand, it is not the way most people arrange a large meeting in a professional setting. At work we have “town halls” where our glorious leaders present Important Things to the masses, and conference calls to distribute corporate communications too. How far into in the future do you think we might see a Parliament opening which is held by video conference, arranged via Microsoft Outlook meeting invite, with all members sending their RSVPs by e-mail? I suspect it will be well beyond my lifetime!
One thing that amused me was the idea of grown men carrying around sticks to show how important they are. Smacks faintly of morris dancing…. So we have Black Rod as the most famous example. There are other Gentlemen Ushers with different coloured rods representing different orders of knighthood. Also the Leader of the House of Lords carrying the “Cap of Maintenance” on a white rod. Then there is the huge mace, and all the robes and crowns and processing.
The BBC commentator was talking about these items being “symbols of authority” of the bearers of each. So my question to you today is this: What would your symbol of authority be? And what element of the Opening of Parliament would you like to implement in your life?
For me, although it is tempting to implement some sort of door slamming in the face of unwanted visitors, I think my favourite element is having a bloke ready for my signal who goes and summons visitors to come to me when I am ready for them, rather than me having to bother to leave my comfy throne. As for the symbol of authority – as a mother of small children it has got to be a large square of muslin. One that has seen better days, with just a slight odour of milky sick. Either that, or a multi-pack of Johnsons baby wipes.