In Britain we are very conscious that an essential part of Christmas is the Queen's Speech to the Commonwealth. When I say essential, I mean it is essential to decide whether the family will watch it or not. As a child we always listened to it on the radio with my mother. I am sure my father did not hold with such royalist notions.
These days, extracts are relayed on the BBC News in any case, so you get the gist of it whether you like it or not.
At lunch today we were discussing the invasion of Russians to Vilnius over the New Year. It seems that all the hotels and restaurants were full. They came in civilised family groups and their main requirement was a plasma TV to watch Putin's New Year Speech and champagne to drink with it.
My informant could not say whether the speech was favourably received, which left me with some unanswered questions:
- Was it prerecorded so without any reference to the demonstrations?
- Is it too early to predict an "Annus Horribilis"* for next year's speech?
- Was it acceptable to boo in front of the children, and in a foreign country?
And what did he say anyway? I seem to have slept through an important message.
*One year, the Queen complained about her Annus Horribilis (horrible year) in her Christmas message. True there had been a fire in the Castle (someone smoking in bed, the rumours were) and her children all got divorced rather publicly and crossly. Since most people were taking Diana's side, the discussion afterwards was all about how families had coped with their own Anni Horribili, and theirs had definitely been worse, without the money at her disposal.