Magazine article The Spectator

How to Play the Big Day

Magazine article The Spectator

How to Play the Big Day

Article excerpt

Preserving your street cred during the royal wedding

Through fashionable London the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is causing confusion. Privately, the snoots of Islington and Notting Hill are no different from the rest of us. They think Kate looks cracking and RAF pilot William would make a fine son-in-law. Is there not always something irresistible, my dears, about a tall, young prince with a chopper?

Yet metropolitan smoothness makes them hesitate. Is royal fever socially wise? Is it ever acceptable for a cool cat in designer denim to wave little Union flags and sing the national anthem? Metro-smoothies fret about expressing their gaiety at this fairytale wedding. They do not want to be reported to Commissar Polly Toynbee. They fear being haunted by the ghost of republican Claire Rayner.

How, in the London of gel-haired mockneys and Will Self wannabes, should an off the-peg lefty 'play' the royal wedding?

1. Matrimony Goes against everything you learned on the knees of your Spare Rib -reading parents. Of dubious value from a tax point of view, too, and so kinda adult. Scary! Unless you are leader of the Labour party, there is no need to panic and get hitched. You can rationalise this wedding as a dynastic-political act which has no wider social significance. That's what to tell your long-term lover, anyway.

2. Street parties Not as unsound as they might seem. You have a natural horror of mixing with hoi polloi but a street party can mean street cred. They're retro. Bunting, trestle tables, little paper bowls containing jelly and ice cream - it's all wildly 1977 Silver Jubilee, with a hint of the Sex Pistols and the Callaghan government. This is a great look just now. The bigger and gaudier the decorations, the better. You can claim you were simply partaking in pastiche. If caught wiping away a tear when Kate and Wills step out of the Abbey's W est W W D oor as man and wife, laugh it off as a speck of blossom in your eye.

Better, claim it was ganja smoke from that West Indian family at No. 55. You've forgotten their names already but they're terribly sweet. A street party will give you a chance to meet all those urchins from the poorer houses in your block and work out which of the little buggers vandalised your BMW Z8.

3. The dress designers Who will run up the wedding frock? Usually you would be above such fripperies, so approach the matter with the attitude of a Guardian G2 writer. Think street art/camp/social history. Grayson Perry will be taking an interest. So why can't you?

Candidates to design the dress are said to include Alice Temperley, Marchesa and Sarah Burton. Don't feign ignorance and say 'Sarah Burton? Is she related to former Gloucester prop forward Mike Burton?' SB is trendy and fey, so it's all right to know about her.

4. 'Will you be going to the wedding?' On no account say, 'Oh I wish we were.' Good grief no. Try: 'Nah, our daughter Nettle is playing in a steel band concert in Camden that morning and there's no way we can get back into the centre of town on time.' If you are a Cabinet minister and you have been left off the list you can plausibly claim to have a crisis to deal with that day. If you are Ed Balls, say: 'Look, this wedding is, first and foremost, a family event, so naturally Yvette and I are really excited for the young couple and wish them well and that is the right thing to do.'

5. What to wear A plastic bowler hat is acceptable, not least for its echoes of A Clockwork Orange. Union Jack T-shirts also may be worn. …

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