I missed the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day, buried as I was under an ocean of well-intentioned seasonal multi-tasking. Somewhere between the construction of complex offspring entertainment systems, each requiring a unique type of battery and a working knowledge of Chinese or Polish, and the military style co-ordination to ensure that edible offerings with 15 differing cooking times all hit the table looking equally burnt, I lost a large portion of my patience, most of my sobriety and any chance of commandeering the remote control.
However, I was among the 200,000 odd to watch the monarch’s message on YouTube, and also checked out other seasonal offerings from the great and the good. With the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee gracing the 2012 calendar, David Cameron, dressed for a funeral, urged us to “go for it”. But he acknowledged that we will be going for it on a greatly reduced budget, citing the rising prices that have “hit household budgets.” Closing with a call to the patriotic, the Prime Minister urged us to focus “on what this fantastic country does best”, although neglected to elaborate on what that elusive talent might be. Policy wise, he made reference to pursuing welfare reform and curtailing excesses in the City. Well, this year I plan to fix the leaking tap in the bathroom, and train the cat to speak Cantonese, and I can’t guarantee putting the same effort into the second task either.
Nick Clegg’s message proffered a policy buffet of tasty treats, from pupil premiums to tinkering with the tax-bands. The Deputy PM trailed a re-balancing of the economy away from the City, and for the stocking-is-half-empty type, he conceded the coming year “will pose great challenges”. The Queen too referred to current hardships, stressing the importance of family, and community in times of crisis. She closed with a call to find room for the message of the angels, do not be afraid, and for the love of God. Her Majesty also spoke about the power of forgiveness, and that sometimes “we need saving from ourselves, from our recklessness and greed,” at which point I’m certain I heard a member of the pinstripe posse choking on a sprout.
Economically, it seems we start the New Year where we finished the last, on our knees. But, this should prove handy both for prayer, and searching for spare change under the sofa, and it looks as if we’re going to need plenty of both.