Travel

Twice as nice. Or is it?

GREAT EXPECTATIONS The Royal family captured in black-and-white. Photo: Special Arrangement

GREAT EXPECTATIONS The Royal family captured in black-and-white. Photo: Special Arrangement  

more-in

While the locals are thrilled about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a few may not be as excited about the Olympic Games, finds out Shikha Bagaria

England is in celebration mode, and has double reason to hang out the traditional English bunting — The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the soon-to-commence Olympic Games. It is the best of times and the worst of times, especially for London — exorbitant airfares and hotel tariffs, higher-than-usual rates for everything, queues everywhere and huge, huge crowds…

On the plus side, there is an all pervasive sense of festivity and gaiety which touches everything — shops, museums, restaurants, pubs, theatres and public transport. It is a historic year for England, and everything has been turned into a celebration — from theatre fests, summer concerts, special exhibitions at galleries and museums to the mundane such as chocolate boxes, bags and key chains.

The Royal family and, more particularly the Queen, peer out from every souvenir shop window, the English regalia displayed in all its glory, while the Olympic rings and mascot decorate many a landmark and street corner. Elsewhere in the countryside, quaint towns and villages lucky enough to fall along the route of the Olympic Torch, proudly announce the exact date and timing of the torch rally.

In a conversation with our hosts in Malmesbury, in the Wiltshire County west of London, we asked them what they thought of the jubilee celebrations and the expenses involved, given the current economic state and the relevance of monarchy in the modern world. To our surprise, they were completely in favour of it, arguing that it had brought in plenty of revenue from tourism — local and international, that it was excellent for international public relations, and that it was a brilliant showcase of the English royalty and its grandeur. They were even more in admiration of the Queen and her decision to pay taxes and open up certain palaces to the public so as not to tax the public exchequer.

Back in London, our host viewed the coming Olympics with something close to horror. His office in Canary Wharf fell on the route to the Olympic Village, and a majority of the companies in this business district faced the prospect of half-empty offices during the Games, as no ‘sane’ Londoner would venture out into the traffic chaos. The people were bound to suffer, as shopping trips even to supermarkets, would have to be postponed to avoid the crowds. Personal events would have to be called off, and their day-to-day lives would be in disarray. And what are they to do with all the extra stadiums erected especially for the Olympics, and which would serve no purpose afterwards given that they may not be suitable for England’s twin grand passions football and cricket?

And while we mulled over these rather unexpected views, we had a chance to witness the famous English stiff upper lip — it was firmly in place the night they got booted out of the UEFA Euro 2012 by the Italians!

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 6:48:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/twice-as-nice-or-is-it/article3662165.ece

Next Story