birthdays and Jubilee

As I mentioned in this post, spouse B, daughter T, and I were recently in London, UK, visiting daughter E, her spouse L, and granddaughters ABC and JG, who live in East London with L’s parents.

The main reason for the timing of the visit was that it was half-term break for ABC and her fifth birthday. We were so happy to be there to celebrate with her. Due to a number of health issues – thankfully, not COVID – and other complicating logistical factors, we spent most of our time visiting between their house and our apartment hotel. ABC was thrilled to even have an overnight in our unit.

Because ABC lived with us in the US for her first couple of years, she is very comfortable with us. For JG, who was born in August 2020, we are virtual strangers or, at best, figures from a computer screen who inexplicably appear in person. Still, she was able to relate to us better this time than when we visited last December/January. Both ABC and JG relate more to Auntie T than to Nana and Grandpa. Aunties are obviously much better playmates!

It’s also nice that JG is finally able to be out and about more in public. As a pandemic baby, she wasn’t able to go visiting or go to stores, libraries, churches, etc. for a big chunk of her life, so people beyond her household can still be daunting, exacerbating the developmental stranger anxiety that waxes and wanes throughout infancy and toddlerhood. As she gets older, we expect that she will warm up to us more quickly when we visit.

The timing of our visit also meant that we were there for Queen Elizabeth’s seventieth Jubilee. As we are crowd averse even in non-pandemic times, we didn’t go to any celebrations in person but watched them on BBC One. I saw the trooping the colour, the lighting of beacons, the service of thanksgiving, the Derby, and the Jubilee concert. There were also various block parties. There was so much celebrating that there was a shortage of decorative bunting!

It was ironic that as soon as the Jubilee celebration concluded, there was a no-confidence vote among the Conservatives in Parliament on the leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson survived the vote, but the narrow margin suggests that he may have to step aside as PM in the coming months. We’ll see.

It was nice to see people being so supportive of their aging monarch, even as she, understandably, needed to pass on some of the hosting duties to her heirs. It was also touching to see the Tree of Trees sculpture that celebrated the Queen’s request to plant a million trees in honor of her platinum Jubilee.

We had a bit more celebrating to do, as T’s birthday was the day we returned home. While we could not have a “tree of trees” to celebrate her, part of her birthday gift was a donation in her honor to a project that is working to preserve the ‘ōhi‘a trees of Hawai’i. The trees are being killed by a fungal disease for which there is no known remedy so there is an ongoing seed banking project in order to restore the population after the fungal disease has run its course.

I appreciate that these commemorations celebrate the past by looking to the future. There is so much to do to secure a future for the younger generations and the planet. Our history gives us both positive and negative examples of how to react to and make change. Instead of rosy nostalgia, we need to be clear-eyed about our past and present and use that knowledge to improve the situation. especially for those who are now children, teens, and young adults.

a royal rescue?

As many of you know, my daughter E and granddaughter ABC will soon be relocating from our home in the US to the UK, when E’s spousal visa comes through. Unfortunately, the UK government, like the US, is mired in dysfunction.

It is difficult to project what will be happening regarding Brexit, the prime minister, Parliament, and the EU. Even seasoned political analysts can’t guess what will happen. There are fears of shortages of fresh foods and medications if/when the UK leaves the EU. With so much uncertainty, this is not an optimal time for E and ABC to move, but there is only a small travel window once the visa arrives.

Lately, I have been fantasizing that the queen will come to the rescue! Britain’s monarch has little power, but, can still dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. She can also accept or reject the choice of prime minister. The prime minister is supposed to “command the confidence of the House of Commons.” [source:  https://www.royal.uk/queen-and-government] Given that PM Johnson has been pretty spectacular in his inability to get bills he favors passed, and that a number of members of his party have left, giving him less than majority support, one could reasonably argue that he does not command confidence.

The monarch is not supposed to be political but she has a duty to “encourage and warn” the government ministers. She is supposed to be a source of national unity. I realize it would be unprecedented, but I think she should point out that leaving the EU will likely cause Scotland, and perhaps Northern Ireland, to leave the United Kingdom. She could also point out that in a constitutional monarchy, issues are decided by her government, not by popular vote. The vote itself may not even represent the true will of the people, given that it was subject to Russian influence and much fear-mongering and lying from the domestic proponents of leaving the European Union. If she made these remarks publicly, perhaps in an address to Parliament, it would cause a stir, but it seems that she would be protecting her subjects and seeking to keep the United Kingdom intact.

Of course, none of this is likely to happen. I am dreaming, though, of a stable place for my daughter and her family to live and thrive.

A place less contentious and divided than the United States would be nice.

 

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