This portrait is very common, and wherever there calls for a portrait of the queen to be present in a building in Australia it will often be exactly this one. It is difficult to tell whether it is a photograph or a painting from a distance, but she is always smiling dryly, as if the painter or photographer had just made an amusing quip.
The queen is smiling in a manner that suggests she appreciates the joker’s effort but does not truly find the joke funny. She is too demure and too pre-occupied with looking royal to let her guard down for a sympathetic laugh. She is smiling with her eyes but not with her mouth. She is amused to some degree.
Actually, the queen looks a little bit unimpressed if you stare at this portrait for long enough, but that is how you always imagine a queen to look. She is concentrating too hard on being the queen. I can’t imagine a queen looking any other way but unimpressed when a photographer makes a joke. What photographer in the world could make a queen laugh from her belly.
The queen is perfect.
She is too smart to fall into the traps of a photographer’s mechanisms. She has been photographed so frequently that she understands the trade secrets of photographers and painters and the way they try to disarm their subjects. The queen has knowledge so much broader than anyone else, so she knows the photographer’s trade secrets preternaturally. It is inherited knowledge for a strong woman in royalty. Her smile contains trade secrets and the fending off of trade strategies.
Sometimes when I look at this painting of the queen I think I would like to go out with her. It would be interesting to go to a gig with the queen. Maybe you could meet the queen at the Courty in Newtown and then go see a nice modern folk band at the Vanguard and you would actually shout her a fish-based dish and several glasses of wine and eventually she would get that glow in her eyes that reveals she is capable and willing to reveal some secrets about herself.
At the Courty we would have an outdoor seat so that I could smoke. I do not expect the queen would enjoy dating a man who smokes cigarettes but somehow I believe the queen would herself like to indulge in tobacco after maybe two or three glasses of wine.
I have established this from her smile. She would be unimpressed for the first two drinks but then when she had her third, and when we were comfortably engrossed in a conversation, she would gracefully approach my cigarette with her magesterial hand and then take a very shallow drag and blow it out in patterns that resembled the beautiful lines on her cushions in her palace back in England.
At this point it would be very difficult to keep my cool with the queen. I would need to stop drinking beers and make sure I wasn’t slouching like I normally do after a drink or two, and I would need to make sure I didn’t embark on one of my depressing soliloquies about the state of the world. The queen would not want to hear my views about the world at length, because she would already know the state of the world and, no doubt, would be at a point where she is accepting of it and ready to provide more positive interpretations. She is the queen and therefore cannot publically be very negative about the world, even with me, after three glasses of wine and a cigarette. I would not want to encourage the queen to teach me while we were dating because she would be sick of being an authority when speaking, but more importantly she would be able to penetrate and criticise the gaps in my arguments and wield those in ways that would make me feel small.
The queen would be at odds with my outlook. She would refute it. The queen would convince me, because it could be no other way.
Even if I consider the queen’s arguments to be wrong it would be inappropriate to offer my position, because she is the queen. The queen is capable of demolishing my point of view. She knows more than me from a strategic geo-political point of view but of course she cannot talk about it, even though we are technically dating. She would need to address my anger with broad strokes and philosophy rather than the statistics only she and her family and her British government have access to. She would resort to philosophy in order to obscure the raw statistics she is not at liberty to share with me.
If I went on a date with the queen, first to the Courty and then to a pleasant modern folk show at the Vanguard, I would need to be a more positive person. The queen would not tolerate anything else. She would not regard my anger and frustration at the world as clever or realistic or edgy. My opinions about the world are meaningless and silly to the queen. She is the queen.
She would imagine what my disenchantment could potentially mutate into, several decades into the future. If I am angry and disenchanted now, but young, later on I will be angry and disenchanted but old. I will be a sad wrinkly man with an axe to grind and a notebook I would like to turn into stories which, when organised into proper sentences, aim to convince others of my pessimistic views.
I doubt the queen would have a bar of this.
I think the queen’s smile is accepting of a certain degree of cynicism and knowingness, but probably not the larger degree of cynicism and knowingness that I feel so confident and comfortable to maintain. I think if I went on a date with the queen I would need to question her on a purely interior level. I would need to be an interviewer, but a very strategic and clever one. I would need to figure out a way to make myself appear to be more interested in the queen than anyone else in the world.
I am definitely more interested in the queen than anyone else in the world, because she is right in front of me and she is beautiful, but she would not have cause to immediately believe me. How does anyone convince a queen that they are more interested in her stately mind than anyone else. The queen might assume I am an undercover agent, trying to uncover some dirt about her. But if she deigns to take a drag of my cigarette, maybe not. When she takes a drag of the cigarette, maybe that is a cue. It is an agreement.
After we have some drinks at the Courty we will need to walk to the Vanguard. I expect the queen would prefer to be chauffeured to the Vanguard, but in my dream the queen is happy to walk and maybe even stop by a bookshop to browse the literary section.
The queen is so impressed by me that she wants to prolong us as a duo. She wants it to just be her and I, walking down the street. Maybe I would tell the queen that my favourite book is by a Russian, and that I like to read eastern European literature, and maybe I would buy her a book I considered at the time to be representative of a 20th century eastern European milieu, and maybe she would look at me with interest and say “of course I will read your favourite book, because I am interested in you.”
I wonder what the queen thinks of eastern European literature. I am sure she has read Tolstoy and maybe the poems of Mandelstam and probably most likely Chekhov. But has she read Solzhenitsyn? I wonder whether the queen has ever read Maxim Gorky. If I ask the queen whether she’s ever read My Childhood by Maxim Gorky I can only assume she would say “no”, in which case, what would I say. I could not judge her. Could I recommend ‘My Childhood’ by Maxim Gorky to the queen?
Why should the queen ever read Maxim Gorky. She is a queen and there are many other books she must read. Technical books penned by think-tanks about foreign policy, of which I couldn’t understand a word.
The queen will never read all the books she must read. I can only tell her that the Maxim Gorky book that I read, My Childhood, is a very interesting and heart-rending book, but it is socialist realism and hence she may be principally against it. The queen is not necessarily interested in things that are heart-rending from a Russian point of view, and she almost certainly does not believe in socialism nor the historic sentiments of it. She is definitely interested in things that are heart-rending - because she’s the queen - but I would have to slyly interview her on this subject, and she would be bored because she knows about Maxim Gorky but has not read it and has no need nor desire to. It is impossible to know what the queen cares about unless you have the opportunity to tactfully ask her, and that is impossible, even on a date.
If I were on the way to the Vanguard to see a modern folk band with the queen, after a couple of drinks at the Courty and then a leisurely browse through a secondhand book shop on King Street, I feel like I would definitely have a series of questions for the queen that would ultimately establish whether we are a correct fit or not. It would not be about whether she is comfortable with reading Gorky divorced from his politics, and it would not be about worldly matters which we could potentially disagree on.
I would be interested in whether the queen is interested in the pleasant folk band we watch at the Vanguard. I would not be interested in the pleasant folk band at all, but I would take the queen to a pleasant folk band at the Vanguard in order to show her how civilised I am, and in order to show her that I am tolerant of determinedly pleasant sound. This is a virtue, because it is nice sound and I am pretending to be receptive to it. She will admire my receptiveness to pleasant sound. This will offset whatever gaffes I make w/r/t the way I really feel about the world. We would get table service at the very front of the venue, and we would exchange knowing glances or smile ecstatically between songs at one another in a manner disproportionate to the actual pleasure being meted out.
I would buy the queen a drink without asking whether she wanted one and she would look at me with mock horror, because she doesn’t drink this much usually, and then she would sip it slowly and smile at me across the table, to confirm that despite her not needing this drink, she wants it.
I would watch the queen tap her heels and close her eyes for seconds at a time during moments when the music affected her. I would enjoy watching her restrained, demure smile occasionally blossom into joy. I would assume the queen is not very well versed in modern music, hence her strange joy at this very common pleasant folk band at the Vanguard, but I would resolve that this is because she is the queen, and she must enjoy pleasant phenomenon.
There is no quirk nor habit or attitude that can be considered an anomaly, if you are the queen. The queen is entitled to demonstrate any feeling at any time she wishes.
You have not felt anxiety unless you are approaching the end of a date with the queen. You cannot be too careful. Obviously you want to sleep with the queen, but you are resigned to not sleeping with the queen because she is, the queen. You cannot kick on with the queen at the Town Hall Hotel because the queen does not belong there. You must stand inside the Vanguard once the pleasant folk band has played and wonder how this breach in reality will play out. It is only sensible to pretend you are not there, and to stand at the bar as a ghost of yourself, and to simply observe patterns in events and the way they resolve themselves, and to understand that they are impenetrable in their logic.
No body ever sleeps with the queen. She is the queen. You can only begin to understand the queen but you cannot eventually be one with the queen.
Sometimes when I enter an official area, like a town hall, or a bowling club, or an RSL, and there is this portrait of the queen, it is difficult to not imagine what it would be like to have the queen be in love with you.
What if this immortal figure seized you as the one. What if she decided you were important.
The queen is smiling slightly, but is unimpressed by the photographer’s measures to make her smile. She is aware of this ruse. It doesn’t even bear mentioning, because she is used to this. She is coaxed into looking stately yet approachable. But the queen is important and she cannot imagine what it would be like to have a photographer approach her ambivalently. What if they did. It would be a rift. No photographer will ever expect the queen to decide the rules about her beauty. They must make her smile, or they must make her stately.
Everyone wants to make the queen smile. There is no way to impress the queen. She is too smart. The queen is a fabric. She is a facade. She is a symbol. She is a semblance of beauty. She is a ghost.
When you grow up as a girl, the world tells you the things that you are supposed to be: emotional, loving, beautiful, wanted. And then when you are those things, the world tells you they are inferior: illogical, weak, vain, empty. The world teaches you that the way you exist in it is disgusting — you watch boys cringe backward in your dorm room when you talk about your period, blue water pretending to be blood in a maxi pad commercial. It is little things, and it is constant. In a food court in a mall, after you go to the gynecologist for the first time, you and your friend talk about how much it hurts, and over her shoulder you watch two boys your age turn to look at you and wrinkle their noses: the reality of your life is impolite to talk about. The world says that you don’t have a right to the space you occupy, any place with men in it is not yours, you and your body exist only as far as what men want to do with it. At fifteen, you find fifteen-year-old boys you have never met somehow believe you should bend your body to their will. At almost thirty, you find fifteen-year-old boys you have never met still somehow believe you should bend your body to their will. They are children. They are children.
I didn’t say we couldn’t “use it” - I’ve had an account for four years… Australians could only watch an extremely limited number of films due to copyright restrictions until very recently, when the films began to be curated by country.
“We’ve established a Royal Commission because we want to get to the bottom of the most incompetently managed programme in Australia’s history. Can any of you think of a government programme that actually killed people?”—
Just this week Operation Sovereign Borders actually killed someone and injured a great deal more. As the Loon Pond notes “it’s [a] tremendously revealing insight into the way Abbott doesn’t actually think of the people trapped on Manus Island as people.”
Also: The Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the War on Terror (including Afghanistan and Iraq), stop me if I’m wrong.
As for the UNDECLARED wars, what about the untold number of Indigenous Australians that have been murdered, injured, incarcerated or kidnapped over the last 200 or so years? Then there’s the British nuclear tests at Maralinga. And that’s off the top of my head!
Can we talk about how literally every time I see the French word for “head” I think of breasts? Because I’m used to French words being very similar to Spanish words, and the Spanish word for boobs is “tetas”…