The Johnston Letter, Volume 3, Number 2
King George VII in America
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 2007 Jill Johnston
I know the Queen is very rich and that's bad, but look at this picture of her in her ornamental gilt coach, two footmen in gold-brocaded jackets and red britches, buttons the size of blown globules, wearing white gloves and black silk hats with visors, sitting up high behind her, the picture of centuries of wealth and protection. The Queen should look happy, right? But she's 80+ years old. She's been shoveled into these carriages for quite a long time. And she isn't as rich as people think. Bill Gates, JK Rowling and Richard Branson are much richer, and a lot of her property is held in trust by the British public. The reason though that she looks so sad, in my opinion, is that she is herself held in trust by the British public. You or they can go on about her priceless belongings, like the diamond tiara on her head in this coach picture or her da Vinci drawings, race horses and stamp or Corgi collections, but since she doesn't really own herself, these possessions serve only to remind the public that she is being well kept. And it says here in this article under the coach picture that it costs each subject only 62 pence annually to keep her. That's a lot less than it costs us in America to maintain the obsessions of our warrior president. And he has no pageantry to divert us from our investments. He parades around sometimes, reviewing the troops; or he merges into audiences like the Kennedy Center Honors or the White House entertainment for the Queen when she came to Virginia recently to see the Kentucky Derby. On W's behalf here, I have to say I liked his performance choice better than his wife's. His starchy buttoned-up Marine band singing Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory was awe-inspiring. Violinist virtuoso Itzak Perlman was too drawing room, too Adamsy or something. My favorite TV sighting of the Queen's visit was her pleasure in meeting the winning jockey of the derby. Too bad she couldn't have bypassed protocol just then and given the guy a hug. Anyway for a moment, nobody owned her, and she was happy. There are all kinds of crimes in the world, and one of them is surely the captivity by birth of a personage like the QEII. She and hers are born in a zoo, a very expensive cage, and they can't get out of it. Look what happened to King Edward VIII, aka the Duke of Windsor. When he refused to be king, he was exiled from his country for life. I can't remember if he was even allowed back for a day for the funeral of his mother Queen Mary. Photos of him often revealed the saddest looking man in the whole world. The problem the late Princess Diana had was that she didn't understand what she was marrying into, and no one evidently tried to let her in on it, least of all unfortunately the man she married. Our own system of course is no better. Our freedom from theirs evolved into prisons such as our dead democracy. Look at this photo of GW and his father at Gerald Ford's funeral. Our "democracy" is now enlivened by a president whose primary goal was to prove that he is stronger than his father by not letting a whole country and its dictator get away the way his father did. In the photo, the half dozen others, including Billary (who I have no doubt will be our next president, provided the Bush mafia doesn't pull off a coup, surely a distinct possibility), are shown reverentially regarding their service programs. But the two Bushes are having a tete a tete. It looks like 41 is trying to tell his son something, leaning forward, his right hand resting lightly on his son's shoulder, who leans back respectfully, a little skeptically, to hear what he has to say. They're united by their reading glasses, fallen down their noses to the same degree. The Times, now saving ten mill a year by slicing an inch and a half off their papers' widths, can still run a fair story with an appropriate photograph. This story is titled, First Father: Tough Times on Sidelines for a Former President. Some seasoning of psychobabble is missing, and you can't really know for sure what the ex-prez is thinking or feeling, unless you believe the quote of an "associate," that the presidency of his son "wears on his heart and his soul" -- but the drift is clear. Bush Sr. loves his son, at the same time is upset about his policies and his drastically low approval ratings. In the photo, he may only be reminding him about their dinner date after the funeral service, but we can read concern into it, just as the Times intended. The "war" of course sits between them. The father is not supposed to be involved, and the official White House line is that he is not; but this is already long belied by the well-publicized "Iraq Study Group" of Senior's ex-cronies like James Baker and Brent Scowcroft (openly critical of the war in Iraq) to create withdrawal recommendations -- a doomed effort by virtue of GW's origins. His quote about God, when asked if he had sought his father's advice before going to "war" -- as good as Prince Charles's about Love (his bride-to-be standing next to him) -- can stand for the first line in his presidential Genesis. "You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to." (my italics). I put quotes around war because for me and mine the word war by itself gives our criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq state legitimacy. And that's why the man who started it uses the word constantly. My Random House definitions for war include the following: "A period of armed hostility or active military operations," with this example: "The two nations were at war with each other." The key word there obviously is "two." But our Afghan and Iraq adventures involved only one, and that was us. Terrorists, the proclaimed target, are simply not a country. I'm willing to bet that 43's father knows this, and is appalled by his son's ignorance. And I know a way out for him. Not the next parachute jump he threatens to make on his 85th birthday, which sounds like suicide. But rather a movement he could get behind to declaw and neutralize his son by ushering him into a gilt carriage, fanfares by Marine bands, the 1776 Revolution having been declared a mistake, with GW the new King of America. He could be George VII -- an American type of King consigned to a luxurious captivity for his crimes. He might like being held in trust by the American public. He would have no idea what it means, and the perks as we know are incredible. The troops in Iraq would come home immediately (why would he care any more?); an updated Marshall plan put into effect would aid in the massive reparations due invaded, destroyed territories, and murdered peoples; and our dead democracy run by money and the military industrial complex turned into sovereign separate states such as the scheme suggested by Governor Schwarzeneger of California -- a kind of European Union of the United States. I mean look, our country is too big already. For instance of the approximately 145 million women existing in it, we get to choose only one for president. We don't even get to choose, because our vote doesn't mean anything. During the Gore/Bush fiasco, still unaware of how valuable my vote was, I saved myself the trouble anyway, just out of laziness, by not pulling the lever for Gore. I never studied government in college, but at last I know that the party machine decides the candidate, and afterwards the electrical college takes over. The people provide votes just to see who would win if their votes counted. Afterwards, the fates of first families become prime time media gossip. Or we can make up our own. First Dad Bush, glad to see his son well cared for in a glorified prison, could be liberated to go on as a spokesman for people like myself with successful hip replacements, and for the benefits of emotional expansion in older age. In the article under his picture with his son, it is implied that his emotional life is out of control. His children are worried about him. Last December, at an event honoring his son Jeb in his last days as Florida's governor, 41 "broke down crying at the memory of Jeb's bitter defeat in 1994." I suspect he was really crying over his own lost election in 1992, but what's the difference? The subject is loss, and the cumulative power of loss over time. Senior's daughter says he is "growing more emotional as he ages." Of course he is. It's a function of ageing. Wouldn't it be great if when they dragged out old blow-winds on TV like Kissinger or Schlesinger for celebrity value, the men surprised everyone by just crying and crying? I mean they have plenty to cry about. We can guess that Bush Sr. has lost his son in some important way; he may have lost him long ago, like at birth. And there's nothing he can do about it. It was Senior's fault in the first place just for being older and so successful. Sons stereotypically have problems with successful fathers. The fault of course has retroactive infinitude. No one knows where it all started. No one knows where the Queen started. But if you see her born impounded as I do, and you see how old she is, and you know how much loss she has sustained (remember her annus horribilis?), I have a dream of her happily dismounting from her horse-drawn chariot which flies away into the sky like that of the god Phoebus, leaving her sitting on my stoop with me on Charles Street, her diamond tiara askew on her head, basking in the leaves of our commoner's tree, laughing over our incongruous situation.
©Jill Johnston. Previously published on www.jilljohnston.com.
To read more about Jill Johnston, please click
here. To read more of Jill Johnston on the Dance Insider, click