This is a weekend of birthday celebrations for the Queen of England, though it is not her actual birthday. Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is April 21, however, it is traditionally celebrated at the start of summer with a parade known as Trooping the Colour. As part of the traditional festivities, the Queen awards the Birthday Honours which grant various individuals appointment into national orders or award decorations and medals for service to the country. Queen Elizabeth or a representative present the awards.
We know that President Trump lives rent-free in the heads of those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. While it is not unusual for a celebrity to make a political statement while accepting an award, that practice has really ramped up during President Trump’s first term. It has become the exception, not the rule, for an entertainment industry award show televised in America, for example, to come off without any sanctimonious political message being delivered by our betters in Hollywood or New York. Apparently, the same thing happens in the UK because when singer/songwriter Elvis Costello ( nee Declan MacManus) penned a statement on his website after he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire he took the opportunity to randomly criticize President Trump.
I blame Prime Minister Theresa May. She nominated Costello for the honor. He, in turn, listened as his mother slammed May as he told her the news. His elderly mother, Lillian MacManus (Costello is 64 years old himself) is almost the same age as Queen Elizabeth and no fan of the prime minister. He told her that he didn’t plan to accept the award. Then his mother told him to shape up and do it.
Lillian is almost the same age as Her Majesty, so I regard myself as immensely fortunate that I am still able to seek her counsel. She suffered a severe stroke last year, just two days before my 64th birthday, but thanks to the prompt attention of an incredible NHS specialist ward and the sustained dedication and kindness of her home care team, she has recovered her wits and words to a truly remarkable degree.
“I began my call by telling my Mam that the Prime Minister, Mrs. May, had put my name forward for an O.B.E.”
“But she’s rubbish”, Lillian cut in before I could complete the news. Well, that aside, I said, “Of course, I won’t be accepting the award”.
I didn’t get much further with that statement either. I listened carefully to my mother’s argument that if something is deserved then one must be gracious in acceptance.
So, as a good lad, who likes to do what will make his Mam most proud, I knew that I must put old doubts and enmities aside and muster what little grace I possess.
Costello goes on to write that he finds it “hard to receive anything named for the “British Empire”, and all that term embodies, without a pause for reflection.” He did it, though, as a nod to his mother and to his two grandfathers, both of whom were British Army soldiers sent to France in 1914. How selfish and privileged does this guy sound? It is as though accepting an honor from his country’s monarch is really beneath him and his superior morality but he’ll bow to the wishes of his mom. Good heavens.
No one needed a long, labored explanation about his acceptance of the honor. All he had to do was say thank you and that it is a humbling honor and move on. Instead, he goes into a diatribe about British Imperialism, long gone and then just after the 75th commemoration of D-Day, he takes a thinly veiled swipe at President Trump.
“It would be a lie to pretend that I was brought up to have a great sense of loyalty to the Crown, let alone notions of Empire. I used to think a change might come but when one considers the kind of mediocre entrepreneur who might be foisted upon us as a President, it’s enough to make the most hard-hearted ‘Republican’ long for an ermine stole, a sceptre and an orb,” he said in the statement.
Maybe that was his way of justifying accepting an award while insisting he’s woke. Doesn’t it make everything palatable if an insult is hurled at the leader of the free world? You’d think an entertainer who enjoys a very comfortable lifestyle thanks to the dollars of working-class Americans, among others, would show a little more consideration.
Mr. Costello and his current band, The Imposters, are slated to tour the U.S. this summer with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Blondie. They are scheduled to perform only a few miles from the White House when the tour takes them to D.C. on July 26.
He even acknowledges that listeners probably don’t pay close attention to song lyrics.
To be honest, I’m pretty tickled to receive this acknowledgement for my “Services To Music”, as it confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs or the outcome might have been somewhat different.
His agreement with his mother’s remark about Theresa May isn’t the first time he’s jumped ugly on a prime minister. Back in 1989, he sang about dancing on the grave of Margaret Thatcher. Somehow I don’t think Elvis Costello would have been any match for the Iron Lady. The song was titled “Tramp the Dirt Down”.
While it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, maybe Costello would be wise to just shut up and sing.
In Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I am happy to accept this very surprising honour.
I have to admit that my first reaction, upon receiving an “O.H.M.S.” letter was, “Oh no, they’ve finally tumbled me”. Read on… https://t.co/ns4BFURtr1 pic.twitter.com/BNsjZ65wd0
— Elvis Costello (@ElvisCostello) June 7, 2019