Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Even the Queen can't get good help

I just saw The Queen a few days ago, and while I didn’t go gaga over it, I liked it enough, and appreciated Helen Mirren’s portrayal enough, to understand the Best Actress award for Mirren.

Among the things I enjoyed about The Queen are:

1) Learning that the queen is addressed, as explained to Tony Blair by the ryoal director of protocol, as: “ ‘Ma’am’ as in ‘ham’ and not ‘Ma’am’ as in ‘farm’” (an American would never of course pronounce “ma’am” to rhyme with “farm”

2) Learning that upper crust Brits pronounce Tony Blair: “ ‘Blaaaah’ as in ‘bla[b],’ and not Blah as in ‘Blah-blah-blah’ ”

3) Learning enough about the queen to appreciate the context for this story in Sunday’s New York Times:
Helen Mirren has turned down an invitation for dinner with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday in London. The newspaper said the palace was astonished at the rejection by Ms. Mirren, who paid warm tribute to the queen in February when she won the Academy Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth in “The Queen[.]”... Ms. Mirren, who is before the cameras in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was quoted as saying: "The Palace very kindly extended an invitation to dinner last Tuesday. But unfortunately I was filming in South Dakota and unable to change my schedule. [“Schedule” as in “shed–jewel”, not “schedule” as in “skedaddle.”] I am very sad not to have been able to attend."

The Mail described royal aides as furious and unlikely to extend another invitation. A senior palace official was quoted as saying: “It is unheard of for Her Majesty to extend a personal invitation to dinner to someone who has portrayed her in a film. We did not expect to be told that the date is unacceptable.”

One of the themes of The Queen was the pathos this basically decent woman having been raised in such a rarified atmosphere that ordinary consideration becomes, to her, a difficult lesson learned late in life.

And here she goes again – extending an invitation that cannot be decently refused, but that can only be accepted if the invitee (Mirren) resigns from her job.

But it’s not the queen – it’s her staff, of course. The other theme of the movie is how fundamentally incompetent boobs are employed as the queen's retinue, in such a rarified atmosphere that they don’t have to learn the A-B-C’s of competent staff work. Any staffer in even a small-city mayor's office knows that you always preclear the schedules of both parties before publicly extending an invitation that cannot in decency be refused.

Sack the staff, I say.

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