For my first proper blog post I wanted to talk about something important to me - a significant subject which would let you all know that I’m a serious person with intelligent and relevant opinions, and considered judgements on world affairs.
So I've decided to discuss David Cameron’s decision to push for a 2017 deadline on an In/Out EU Referendum.
LOL – JKS!!!!!!! I’m going to talk about Kate Middleton.
It’s a running joke amongst my family and friends that I’m obsessed with her. To date I have been given one biography, three of the creepy cardboard Kate Middleton masks they made for the Jubilee, and two ‘Will and Kate – their Royal Life’ ‘books’ (basically a glossy mag full of photos). There are three Kate-themed blogs I check EVERY SINGLE DAY. (Duchess Kate, What Kate Wore and From Berkshire to Buckingham) and I’ll gladly read multiple accounts of the same school visit or public appearance. I also spent an embarrassing amount of my Christmas money on some designer Italian boots worn by the Middleton girls (although – no regrets – they are the comfiest things I have ever worn on my feet and they were expensive and they LOOK expensive and I get so many compliments on them).
The major disappointment of having to work on the DAY OF THE ROYAL WEDDING (recording an episode of Radio 4’s ‘Cabin Pressure’) was mitigated only by the fact that I got to watch a bit of it on Benedict Cumberbatch’s Iphone. (Early name-drop – get used to these, there are two more in this post).
I also know so much creepy trivia about her I could probably have a fair shot at guessing her internet banking password. In short, bit obsessed with her and her life.
A question my brother often asks – with tears in his eyes and a copy of his birth certificate in hand (Jonathan, we look like twins – we’re definitely related – get over it already). He’s fond of quoting Thomas Paine at me:
‘To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity.’
My considered response is, like, ‘whevs’, but I do see his point. As a left-leaning wannabe-champagne-socialist it’s strange that I should be so obsessed with the Royals, and with K-Midz in particular.
I vote Labour. I once walked past Ed Miliband (second name-drop, well spotted) on a train and he’d had a difficult week in the press and I tried to smile at him in a way that said ‘I know your party doesn't always get it right, and it’s hard being the opposition leader, but please keep trying and don’t be discouraged – I support you’ (not sure how successful that one was – that’s a fairly hard thing to communicate in a single facial expression).
I love the NHS, libraries, and ensuring disabled people and the unemployed don’t starve in the streets – all things that this Government seems not to be totally on board with. I keep being told that this is incompatible with support for the Royals, but somehow it doesn't feel that way.
I think this country would be a poorer place if we just had a ‘President’ (with the single exception of Stephen Fry). If we abolished the Monarchy we’d still have a land-owning, Cristal-swigging, red-trouser wearing upper-class, and they’d all still be filthy rich. They just wouldn't be accountable to anyone, there wouldn't be any obligation for them to do any charity work, and whose face would we have on the money?
If they had any kind of power at all that would obviously be a huge problem, but they don’t. Instead they open hospitals and draw attention to good causes and put up with boring state dinners and tours around the Midlands and feign interest in local projects. Someone’s got to do it.
And Prince Philip alone is pretty good value. I met him once (there’s your third and final one) when I was doing some work experience at Arsenal Football Club. He and the Queen were due to open the new Emirates stadium and before that were going to visit an on-site learning centre run by Islington Council. We got one of our classes along – a group of older people who had been learning how to use computers. At the last minute it was announced that the Queen had injured her back and was unable to come, and that it would just be Prince Philip, leading one elderly woman to huff: ‘Wouldn't have come if I’d known’. I love old people.
I’m a massive history dork, and I enjoy the romance of it all – the stories, the pomp and circumstance, the baffling ancient traditions and the funny hats and sashes.
Yes but why Kate Middleton?
I have many female heroes (Tina Fey, J.K Rowling, Emma Thompson) and on the surface it doesn't look like she has anything in common with any of them. She’s not outspoken on feminism, human rights, or socialism. She didn't single-mindedly pursue a career, overcome terrible odds, or write the Oscar-winning screenplay for ‘Sense & Sensibility’. (I do accept that that last one is quite a hard standard to hold people to. Nevertheless, it remains my Gold Standard).
She comes from a stable, privileged family. She’s got rich parents who love her, had a private education, a flat in Chelsea, and has had more foreign holidays than I've had ‘emergency’ pains au chocolat from Pret because I forgot to have breakfast and I felt a bit faint and calories don’t count if it’s a medicinal pastry. In short, she’s had every opportunity in the world to pursue any interest or passion she so chose, but instead just followed a Prince around while she did a three day week as an ‘Accessories’ buyer, and then some photography at her parents’ company.
In fact, if you’re going by all my usual standards, there’s more about her to dislike than like.
Yes, this is what we keep telling you, so WHY?
Is it the Disney thing? Probably. Who doesn't love the story of the middle-class girl whose life changed for ever when she went to University?
(An aside – one of my favourite things to do when I’m feeling bad is to Google pictures of her at St Andrew’s when she wore terrible clothes and still had a bit of puppy fat. Of course, as I get older, poring over how she looked when she was my age gives me less and less hope, but those early photos are inspiring on some level).
She just seems very relatable and accessible. Her family are obviously close, and seem normal. She wears high-street clothes, lives in Anglesey with her RAF husband, and does her own shopping in Waitrose.
Another part of it is the fantasy, and the escapism. On the surface she makes it look like a really easy life. She turns up at a hospital or school, everyone is over the moon to see her, she does some small talk, gets some flowers, has a photo taken then leaves. Her father in law pays for her dresses and blow-dries. She gets to travel. People carry her bags for her. She got to have a wand duel at Harry Potter world last month and MET J.K ROWLING.
She seems to be genuinely enjoying it, and with a display of gratitude we don’t always see with the Royals. She’s picked lovely charities to support. By all accounts she does proper research, cares deeply, and when she arrives asks really good questions and is lovely during the walk rounds with the peasants.
A really telling moment from the wedding is the bit where she comes onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace and sees the extent of the crowd. Obviously William is used to this, but her reaction here (at 0:05) is really sweet and endearing.
How can you fail to like her at that moment? I like to think if that had been me I would have managed not to swear – but I think that’s unlikely. There’s no doubt she’s classy.
Let me just talk for a bit about the hair. I have shoulder-length brown hair and somehow I imagine that Princess-style waves are JUST WITHIN MY REACH. My new Babyliss Big Hair is helping me get closer to this goal, but on an everyday level of course it’s not happening. I haven’t got the time or money for regular Chelsea blow-dries. However, when I do get my hair cut I now have something to aim for.
Because I’m not very good at being a girl (I don’t know or do half the things I’m supposed to) I struggled until very recently with the post-haircut question ‘How would you like it blow dried?’ (Erm – with a hairdryer? I don’t know, what are the options? Did all the other girls just learn this stuff? Where from? Did I miss an important day of school?). Now I just say ‘Like Kate Middleton’ and my hair dresser smiles knowingly and ramps up the volume – leaving me with incredible hair for all of a half-second until I step into the street and a gust of wind messes it up again.
In conclusion, then …
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter. Like anyone, I live with a number of tensions and paradoxes in my everyday life, and this is probably the one which bothers me least.
And now I’ll leave you with an image from one of my all-time favourite Kate Tumblrs – Kate Middleton FTW
I’d just love it if she was secretly like that. I think I’d like her even more.