Saturday, November 22, 2008
My friends in Washington DC say that 4 million people are expected in the nation's capital for Obama’s inauguration. No hotel room vacant left as of last week.
Looks like it's gonna’ be a big event. May even be bigger than ever.
It’s just good for that country to have such a celebration every four years. From the back of my mind, way back, come the memories of Queen Elizabeth II coronation, in June 1953. The coronation of a monarch is the type of event you might expect to see only once or twice in a lifetime. I was just a child and obviously I could only see the event in the newsreel they usually showed before the movies in all the movie theaters in Spain: the “No-Do” for “Noticiario Documental”, a compulsory francoist propaganda instrument. Those days there was no TV in Spain yet.
At home there was much talk about it, as my mother was of British ascent and anything British was of importance for the family. More over as one of my mother’s sister, Patrito and her husband Modesto traveled to London for the celebrations. My uncle Modesto had abandoned his career as a dermatologist to become sales representative of the British pharmaceutical Booths in Spain, a much more profitable job in those obscure years of Spanish autocracy.
They brought with them a few souvenirs and trinkets to share with the family. I still remember a beautifully made toy size reproduction of the Queens chariot, with the long train of horses mounted by the all dressed up equarries. The toy sat on one of the library shelves for many years after. One of my cousins who has recently moved with us, says she still has the horses, not the coach, somewhere lost in one of her still unpacked boxes.
Around those days, my English teacher, a very peculiar spinster, used to pester us with a traditional English street song that went:
Oh! on Coronation Day, on Coronation Day
We'll have a spree, a jubilee, and shout, Hip, hip, hooray
For we'll all be merry, drinking whiskey, wine and sherry,
We'll be merry on Coronation Day
the lyrics of which escaped to our then poor language understanding.
She also tried to put into our heads, without success, a Children's Prayer for The Queen on Coronation day, that I later learned had been written by Enid Blyton of “The famous five” fame.
As Queen Elizabeth is still alive and kicking and may well outlive her mother, we may not get to see another British coronation day.
In Spain, our current king Juan Carlos coronation now just 33 years ago, was a rather gloomy affair. A few days after the death of the dictator, the country was still mired by the uncertainties of a difficult political situation. I would say there were more celebrations for Franco’s death than for the king’s inauguration. Much attention was paid to the Cardinal Tarancon speech as he encouraged the new monarch to pay heed to the Spanish people claims for democracy.
By the way, the Spanish kings are not crowned. The crown is laid there in a stool and never sets on the monarch’s head.
Actually being a republican, I do not give a hoot where the damn crown sits. I would not mind it sat on the head, as long as it was possible to separate the head from the body, French style.
Anyway, we all look forward to Obama’s inauguration, but we'll see it on TV. Chilly January is not very enticing to visit Washington DC and my wife hates crowds anyway.