Great British traditions: the queen’s tweeter and runners in fancy dress

Madge, as my friend R. calls her royal Madge-esty, was recently looking for someone to handle her Twitter account.

You didn’t think the queen would do her own tweeting, did you? Those royal fingers have to be protected so she can cut ribbons.

If you check @britishmonarchy, as I just forced myself to do, you’ll find that the official MonarTweeter doesn’t try to impersonate the queen, because that would get into a whole tangle of decisions about whether to have her say I or one, as in “One has finished one’s breakfast and is off to a busy day of cutting ribbons.” Which might be too long for a tweet but I can’t be bothered counting. And more to the point, it would quite probably violate some law about impersonating a monarch. But anyway, the job of the MonarTweeter is to speak on her behalf.

I’d quote a few tweets but they’re really, really boring.

Screamingly irrelevant photo: Ruin in the Firth of Forth, by Ida Swearingen. Don't you just love saying "Firth of Forth"?

Screamingly irrelevant photo: An island in the Firth of Forth. Don’t you just love saying “Firth of Forth”? Photo by Ida Swearingen.

The same person will also be—or by now quite possibly is—in charge of her Facebook page and her YouTube channel, which are probably just as fascinating as the Twitter account. And will get paid between £45,000 and £50,000 per year. One of the requirements of the job is that you have to stay awake through all the dreary stuff you try to graft some excitement onto. And you not only have to keep a straight face about it all, you may even have to look reverent. Or at least preserve some small pocket of reverence deep inside.

I apologize for how slow I’ve been in getting this onto the blog. I know you’d have loved to apply. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have recommended using me as a reference. They wanted to hire someone who could “liaise with a broad spectrum of stakeholders” and I foam at the mouth when I’m around people who think stakeholder is a part of actual human speech. (As I type that I can’t help picturing a scene from a vampire movie. I’m the person holding the stake. Did you bring the hammer?)

And as long as we’re on the topic of British traditions, I can’t leave you without talking about the—. Umm. Is this a tradition? A habit? A thing?

Yes. The British thing about running races in costume—or fancy dress, as they call it here. A recent news article—.

Or, well, no. This isn’t really news. It’s the filler newspapers run to keep their readers from going suicidal over the real news. And it seems to work, because I’ve noticed lately that I’m still alive.

We all need stuff like this, and lately we need a lot of it.

So here, if you’ll be so kind as to follow the link, we have photos of people who’ve run races dressed as the Gingerbread Man, a dinosaur, a lobster, and Spiderman. Tragically, the print edition’s picture of a man dressed as a water faucet (or in British, a water tap) is missing from the online edition. But weep not, because by way of compensation you can follow this link and see a runner dressed as—or more accurately, in—a telephone booth, another one carrying a refrigerator, and some others dressed as a hippo, a telephone, and a large bird, possibly a parrot but I’m no expert. And yet another wearing a cardboard fig(I think)leaf and a bad wig. And not much else.

I don’t know what the temperature was when that last one was taken, but this country doesn’t over-indulge in warm weather. Let’s hope the running warmed him up.

Don’t you just love how ancient tradition survives in this modern world?

56 thoughts on “Great British traditions: the queen’s tweeter and runners in fancy dress

  1. And to think that our founding fathers (more likely the mothers) brought none of this to the new world. No cheese races, no burning tires, no figs. You would think landing in Massachusetts would have been reason enough to run around nearly naked (no phone booths yet) or dressed as a hippo. Thanks for sharing the many ways you guys still manage to lead the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This may account for the state the world’s in.

      As for what the founding mothers (and their menfolk) didn’t bring to the new world, those ships were very, very small. They had to leave the hippo costumes in Plymouth. There was a small pile of them by the dock. Historical fact. Ask anyone.

      Then leave quickly, before they feel threatened.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gah! Yes, you are late with this news — especially for any of us who may be on the job market and just so happen to have mad social media skillz (*cough cough not-naming-names cough but-totally-talking-about-myself wheeze*).


    It just may require putting on my running shoes — and my fig leaf — and heading out into this morning rain, to recover from the disappointment…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks. It’s kept me amused through many a meeting. It may be a specifically British bit of bureaucratese. I never did hear it in the U.S., but maybe I was just hanging out in the wrong circles. Or maybe the charade of public consultation isn’t as well developed in the U.S.

      Liked by 1 person

    • So glad I don’t have to apologize for destroying your keyboard. I don’t think I’d get to the end of the block in that phone booth, even if it is cardboard, never mind finish a race.


  3. You were indeed oozing boredom writing about the royal tweeter, so I’m glad to have made it to the end of this post anyway, or I’d missed out on the running lobsters and dinosaurs. Maybe practising Firth of Forth half way energised me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having run one lone 5K race and gotten heat stroke, I’m with you 600% on this. And I wouldn’t say, from the evidence, that Madge is exactly into social media. I think it’s more like she’s in it, if you’ll forgive a little hair-splitting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In my drafts folder, there’s an idea for a post inspired by a news article about some French guy who is suing his former employer because his job was boring.

    So I have that idea rolling around in my head when I read this line from your post: “One of the requirements of the job is that you have to stay awake through all the dreary stuff you try to graft some excitement onto.”

    Isn’t that a requirement of every job, mine, yours, the French guy, as well as the Queen’s tweeter? I’m thinking it is, and it’s not just a requirement for employment, it’s a requirement for life itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw a version of the same news story and had the same thought: I should write about that. It didn’t get as far as my drafts folder, though–it was just a passing thought. In the version I saw, though, the story was that the guy had been banished deliberately to a job with no responsibilities, presumably as punishment for pissing somebody off or crossing some invisible line. I don’t think I’d have taken it as seriously if the same thing hadn’t happened to Wild Thing on a job once. It’s surprisingly demoralizing. And cruel.

      Sorry to go all serious on you. By way of apology, I’ll add that I’ve had some jobs that I had no trouble staying awake for and others that made it awfully damn difficult.


  5. I loved the @britishmonarchy recently when prince harry took it over to promote the Invictus Games and there was a (probably highly scripted) good natured showdown between him and Michelle Obama about which country was going to show the other who was boss… The queen actually got involved and was on video joining in…

    it was more fun than the monarchy usually is :-)

    And about fancy dress runners…
    when I “ran” my half marathon…I was beaten by a man dressed as a giant furry red dog :-/

    Liked by 1 person

      • practically everyone passed me in my half marathon! but then I started almost at the back which didn’t help…

        but yeah, you kind of work on the principle of at least I can go faster than the man dressed as a dinosaur/carrying a washing machine…then they all pass you…

        yet another reason why I am never racing again!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I ran exactly one race, a 5k, and got heatstroke. It was a hot day and the organizers told us what the signs were and warned us to stop immediately if we noticed them. When I started noticing, I decided I’d get to the end of the race faster if I kept running than if I stopped, so I kept going.

          One of the signs of heatstroke is confused thinking. I never ran another race. That, at least, strikes me as like clear thinking.

          Of course, I also quit running at about the same time. That cut down on the odds of me entering another race.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m still chuckling. Somehow I didn’t know what “fancy dress” meant. I just assumed, the very few times I’ve ever seen the term that it meant “fancy” not everyday dress. You know ballgowns and tails and such… I can see now the error of my assumptions, and am now rethinking the term “fancy pants.”

    Liked by 2 people

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