Clean for the Queen…..this week the British are being exhorted to voluntarily tidy up the country for the old girl’s 90th birthday.
It is unlikely she will even notice. The monarch doesn’t often go out on your average street, let alone the grubbier ones.
Michael Gove and Boris (“photo-op”) Johnson have been posing in purple, clutching litter-picking equipment, to publicise events.
Fair enough – more needs to be done to Keep Britain Tidy.
But that costs money: a coordinated national strategy, better design of public spaces, consistent educational campaigns and penalties, more paid staff, more bins. Not just a cheapskate plan with Gove and Boris in rubbish outfits.
To add to the nonsense the CftQ campaign sponsors include a range of takeaway companies from Gregg’s to KFC. Among the bigger litter culprits.
So are you ready to “Vacuum Your Villages! Spruce Up Your Cities! Delitter The Land!”
What this hapless campaign seems to have exposed, in other words, is a profound cultural divide between those who think “Clean For The Queen” is a sweet and inspiring idea, and those who think it is a joke at best, and one with a subtext that is far from amusing.
If there is one person in the entire UK who does not need help with the cleaning, it is the Queen, who not only has a large domestic staff of her own, but also suffers the irritation of knowing that every place she visits has invariably been scrubbed and refurbished within an inch of its life, so as to protect her from any knowledge of the normal condition of her realm.
Old, infirm people whose care visits have been slashed to a miserably rushed ten minutes morning and evening need help with the cleaning. English local authorities whose street cleaning budgets have typically fallen by 16 per cent in five years need help with the cleaning. People who used to work as cleaners in hospitals or on our streets, but have seen their jobs disappear or their pay decimated over the last two decades, need help to start cleaning again, at a decent living wage.
The Queen, though, needs none of this; indeed she is conspicuous for her irrelevance to the whole business.
Clean up because it is the right thing to do. But not for your Queen.
Meanwhile you should spend your cleaning time reading this splendid takedown of CftQ from the New Statesman: