I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Royals and ribbons: public and private

There is an article in today's Age about the young princes signing the condolence book for the victims of the Victorian bushfires at the Australian Commission in London. They are wearing yellow ribbons*:

Showing their support ... Prince William, left, and Prince Harry sign the official book of condolence for the victims of the Australian bushfires.

*Photo is attributed to Getty Images: I'm never sure about rights and issues of reproduction here. I wrote to associated press before Christmas for permission to use an image of the Queen in her garter robes and haven't heard back yet, so I'm assuming these big companies don't care when their images are so widely available. Will take this down if anyone objects....

The article goes on to report that the princes "promised privately not to remove them before the Ashes series is over". Fantastic! Just like the Garter, really. The Ashes? cricket test series between Australia and England. So named after the first occasion Australia beat England, and the stumps were burned and preserved in a tiny, now exceedingly fragile urn as a trophy for England, to remind them of the day they were subdued by their colony.

What part of this promise is "private", then? And will we truly see them wearing yellow ribbons throughout the cricket season? And how do we read royal emotion? The report says the princes "expressed deep shock and sadness" about the fires, but then goes on to talk about Harry, "jovial and relaxed" making the "quip" about the summer cricket.

This little report encapsulates much of the fascination with the Order of the Garter, and the much-discussed story of its origins (woman drops garter; courtiers laugh at her; king puts garter on own leg and promises to found a chivalric order all those now laughing will want to join): the way it teases us with the possibility of access to the private emotion of public figures; the playfulness of royalty and its love of making symbols. It's also a reminder of how ribbons and garters (or green girdles [Gawain]) function, too.

And can I just say, for the record., that it started raining at 8.30 this morning, and it's still going, though it's very light. I think this is only the second time this year we've had any rain. The roof tiles are so dry it's taking a while for there to be any run-off, but I'm hoping the tanks might start to fill. It's great as we gear up for another horror day of heat and wind on Friday. Hope it won't be as bad as Black Saturday. Best description of the weather that day? The emergency services co-ordinator who said he was out at midday, as the temperature climbed to 47C, before the fires had really got doing, and knew we were in for horror when the wind was hotter than the sun.

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