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9:38am on Friday, 29th April, 2011:

A Day Off


Like most other people in Britain, I have a day off today because of the Royal Wedding. I'll actually be spending it preparing a talking I'm giving in London next week, and reading some of the final-year projects I picked up yesterday (nine of them). Still, it's the thought that counts.

I was in the crowd for the Charles and Diana wedding in 1981. I went down on the train and made my way to the point on the route to St. Paul's where I had calculated the road was at its narrowest (where the Strand forks opposite the Royal Courts of Justice) here:

(Gotta love what Google Maps have done with their streetview icon for the day).

I went because I wanted to see a bunch of famous people, and chose the pinch point so I'd get a better look at them. It worked, too, and I got a great view once peer pressure from the rest of crowd persuaded the man in the front row to get off the metal bucket he had brought with him and turned upside-down to stand on. The BBC had set up large microphones the length of the journey, which they turned into reverse and used as loudspeakers for the ceremony, so we heard what was going on in St Paul's. It was pretty good. I had to get back before the fireworks, though, because they were so late. It was a shame, as it was an enormous display that didn't look its best on the portable black & white TV back in my university room.

I'm generally in favour of the institution of the monarchy: I see it as a defence against tyranny. While we have a monarchy, there's always someone the country can use as a figurehead if politicians turn dictators. It's easy enough to kill or imprison a president, but put a monarch out of harm's way and there's always an heir to step into their shoes. Any politicians who wanted authoritarian rule would have to get rid of the institution of the monarchy first — and their attempts to do so would be a big, red warning light.

I decided not to join the crowds today as I have too much work to do and don't want to get rained on. Nevertheless I hope everything will go well today and the second-in-line to the throne will get hitched without a hitch.

I think Google Maps may need to alter its "significant places" algorithm, though:


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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).