Too good to leave in the comments box

In response to “British parliamentary traditions,” Pottsy at Fear of the reaper commented, “I used to work at the U.K. Parliament and sometimes gave tours of the building and would explain the State Opening and all the traditions that go with it, including checking the non-existent cellars (by banging on the floor) for gunpowder.”

Non-existent cellars? I asked. “The cellars they check don’t actually exist and haven’t for at least 150 years,” she wrote back.

So there you have it: They’re not only checking for an impractical and antiquated explosive, they’re checking for it in a place that no longer exists.

35 thoughts on “Too good to leave in the comments box

  1. Hi Ellen,
    “Checking for non-existent cellars, for at leat 150 years”: isn’t that proof that bureaucracy has existed for at least that long? ;) Like, “we’ve done it like that for hundreds of year, why change?” ;)
    Have a great week,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh, empty tradition. It’s value seems to take the highest priority in the minds of conservatives–blended thoroughly with the opinions of other traditionalists, of course.


      • Good point. The tradition in question certainly is innocuously “charming” and no doubt adds a bit of color to life.

        My point, of course, was that “tradition” is often carried way too far, as in the U.S. conservative circles these days when they are arguing for the right to deny a large segment of our society the right to seek happiness through marrying someone they love. You virtually always hear, “it will destroy the ‘traditional’ definition of marriage.” It hasn’t. It won’t. And they still use the argument.

        In the South, the Mississippi’s State flag still displays the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (the stars and bars) arguing that it is “tradition,” even though it is a constant reminder to blacks of those very dark years of slavery and, no doubt, the puffed up, hollow superiority of many whites. In Virginia, my home state, the conservative congress would not allow the Martin Luther King commemoration holiday to fall on the same day as their beloved Lee-Jackson holiday.

        My apologies for not being more lighthearted about tradition. I was just offering my analysis of the subject.


  3. I’m proud to be elevated from the comments! There did used to be cellars, where several hundred moons ago someone once put some gunpowder, probably. But when they built the new palace around the 1850s, after most of it burnt down, the new plans didn’t include these. I like to think that when the new building was ready some random guy was just following directions of ‘stuff to do every state opening’ from the old plans and on discovering the check the cellars requirement thought it was too late to ask someone about this so just improvised.


    • That sounds convincing. I’d forgotten, when I read that the cellars were gone, how new the building was. Which makes it doubly crazy.

      I’ve often wondered whether the gunpowder plot was real or whether they just needed a bad guy and a plot, so they manufactured one. Is there much doubt about the plot’s reality?


      • They did find gunpowder under the building on the day of State Opening but there’s lots of speculation about the plot and whether it was engineered, encouraged or at least allowed to develop to a climactic point by anti-papists who wanted an excuse to clamp down on Catholics. It seems pretty likely that Guy Fawkes’s confession was procured under torture but it’s hard to know the truth.


        • Thanks for the background. The use of torture does throw it all into question–making the holiday all the stranger, although at this distance in time it’s easy enough to overlook its underpinnings.


  4. I am pretty conservative–and enjoy and identify with these your posts and some of the commenters–and you Ellen, you sound like you would be a wonderful person to know. But sometimes, I have to say, why does everyone who is NOT conservative feel the need to throw bricks and leave such barbed comments for the likes of me?

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’ve all gotten pretty polarized, I’m afraid, and it’s so easy to caricature people we don’t agree with. Folks who aren’t conservative often feel like they’re under attack when they step out of the safe zone. Believe me, I’ve had the experience. As much as I can here, I want to leave people’s comments as they are (not including the occasional spelling correction, which doesn’t count). Speaking for myself (and who else can I speak for?), I’m glad you’re here, and I’m glad you spoke up. Thanks.


      • I like the warm and fuzzy feeling that just came over me! ;-) Thank you, Ellen–and by the way, I liked your book–The Divorce Diet–Amazon UK. Love your insight and writing style.


        • After I hit Reply, I thought of all the things I meant to say, which included this: I’m aware that people of varying beliefs read my blog, and I’d like to do two things in response to that: 1, Make them all feel welcome. 2, Not downplay who I am and what I believe in order to accomplish 1. I’m hope I can keep those two goals in balance.

          Glad you liked the book. Thanks for saying so.


  5. Pingback: Even Our Beavers Are Different | Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please

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