Friday, July 28, 2006

Kids These Days Have Too Much Respect

So, there I was visiting a friend in London. We were in one of the trendy boozers they have down there, as opposed to the fetid caves and barns that Edinburgh calls bars, and I was smoking two cigarettes at once. You can still do that in London - in Scotland, the tyrant McConnell has forced us all to quit our unhealthy habits and take up skipping and Tai Chi.

My friend was suggesting things I could do while visiting. "Why don't we go to Buckingham Palace?" she asked.

I'd already strolled past the ludicrous monstrosity that day, so I cracked wise, "Sure, you bring the pitchforks, I'll bring the beer and the torches!"

My friend looked non-plussed, so I tried to inspire her.

"Come on, it'll be great! We'll slash the paintings, loot the jewellery and carry off the Royal Family to the Tower of London! It'll be like the storming of the Winter Palace, the fall of the Reichstag and Bastille Day all at once!".

She still didn't see what I was getting at, shaking her head and making strangled "Does not compute" noises.

Which brings me to my point - kids these days have too much respect for their elders.

Am I the only one who visits stately homes just to fantasise about burning them to the ground? Given the history of our nation, I can't think of any greater expression of patriotism than storming the homes of the ruling classes and looting their posessions. Burglary is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

I attended an exhibition on the Romanovs at the National Museum of Scotland last year and it was filled with misty-eyed pensioners pining for the heyday of a world long since consigned to the dustbin of history. They were depicting the rabid mob overthrowing the ancien regime as a bad thing! Has no-one any get-up-and-go-to-the-palace-with-muskets-and-artillery any more?

But say "Let's behead the monarchy and establish a tyrannical People's Republic" to today's generation and they'll look at you like you're mad. Even the Americans - the Americans, the nation that wrote the textbook on bloody revolution, would call you a lunatic for suggesting an insurrection in Washington.

Another example - I was on the anti-war march in Glasgow in 2003, which finished outside the Armadillo, a rather silly conference hall which happened to be housing the Labour Party conference that day. The fiend Blair was supposed to be speaking at two o'clock, when the rally was in full flow, but had snuck in and out earlier that morning like a pervert thieving from a lady's washing line.

We'd been standing about aimlessly listening to the furious commies for an hour or so when I noticed something odd. The Armadillo is right next to the river Clyde and an enormous crane towered over the site.

"Isn't that... a pair of policemen with massive sniper rifles?" I asked my friend. Since we'd been passed by four cops with machine guns on our way there, it seemed a bit of an overreaction.

"Oh, them?" my friend said dismissively, "They're just here in case any terrorists try to blow up the crowd."

To put this in perspective - 80,000 pissed off protesters, including communists, anarchists and Muslim fundamentalists are standing within 300 yards of the grandees of the ruling class of the country, and the snipers are there for our protection? It just doesn't seem logical. I mean, I've been to football matches, and I know how quickly a placid crowd can turn ugly.

In olden times, it'd have taken more than a few plods with snazzy pop-guns to hold back an angry mob. We'd have battered down the doors and been dining on the brains of the aristocracy in seconds.

Of course, if the cops were there to take out the old farts starting into their 799th chorus of Give Peace a Chance I would've actively cleared their line of fire for them. But this is a logical leap of faith I just can't bring myself to make.

This lack of revolutionary zeal is disappointing. Has the flame of western democracy truly been so sapped by MTV and consumer goods that we can't even get together for a good, old-fashioned riot any more?

Truly, by the time a nation is old enough to have palaces to burn, the fire has gone out.

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