Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Englishness of America

It's about an hour and a half to the Presidential coronation and the colonial roots are showing. The uncharacteristic amount of complicated ceremony combined with the surprising lack of drama makes this very much in the English style. Crowds waving flags, children carrying flowers, slow, stately motorcades, a hundred weird little traditions.

At all other times it's so easy to forget that the US were a colony too. I remember remembering with a shock as I stood outside South Station in Boston, looking around and wondering what the buildings reminded me of. I also remember wondering why a) it should be a shock and b) it should be important. I still don't have the answers.

For once, it's possible to watch an American public event without wanting to give them a good kicking. For one thing, this time the media's breathless superlatives are actually justified - this is a "historic event" and the result of it will be "felt across the world", so while you might wish that CNN wouldn't use the H word quite so often (or for that matter, invoke Lincoln in every third sentence), it does not really set your teeth on edge.

As an unreformable sentimentalist, I am a sucker for "historic occasions", and so much the better if accompanied by hymns, salutes and ceremony. It helps that at the end of it there is sure to be one hell of a speech delivered with all the punch and panache that only a black orator can pull off.


nzm said...

Plus Aretha Franklin singing a song to the music of "God Save the Queen"!

Gargoyle said...

Really?! It would explain why I kept feeling as if I should know the song!

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