Not a laughing matter

by Rick Johansen

No jokes, or casual witticisms, from me about the news that King Charles – I am not even going to refer to him by his Private Eye nickname of King Brian today – has cancer. I know that he is but one person of over 1000 people to be informed today that they have the disease and that my thoughts are with everyone who is in that position. It does not affect my ongoing move to republicanism one iota because I have long believed we should move to a slimmed down, more modern royal family and its abolition appeals to me far more than it once did. But today, here’s a bloke in his mid seventies who has been struck down with a disease that all of us would rather avoid.

Charles has only just taken on the gig of king at an age when most of us are slowing down or indeed stopping altogether. It’s not even a proper job in the traditional sense of the word but it’s one, for better or for worse, that the public seems quite happy to sustain and maintain and, frankly, who am I to argue? In any event, when the head of state is struck down with cancer it’s probably not the ideal moment to be debating whether the monarchy should be scrapped or just pared back.

We have no idea where the cancer is or the prognosis so it’s definitely not best to speculate. We can draw our own conclusions about Prince Harry’s decision to visit his father in the next few days – does this indicate Charles is particularly unwell? What good will that do? – but they would simply be conclusions based on pure guesswork. Doubtless some sections of the media may even suggest Harry and his wife are somehow responsible for the cancer. After all, it was Allison Pearson in the soaraway Telegraph who concluded that Meghan and Harry contributed to Kate Middleton’s illness. I’d only be surprised if someone didn’t suggest it.

I didn’t go out of my way to watch the extended news stories of tonight’s news. I have an off switch and so do you. Of course, I sympathise with the king and his family, as I sympathise with friends of mine who are currently going through the same sort of struggle but I am not interested in what is basically gossip, speculation and frankly tittle-tattle. I prefer facts.

I have already seen on social media how “lucky” Charles is to have access to the best medical care (our) money can buy (him) and how it would be so much better if ordinary working class folk had access to similar standards of care. Now I do have a view on that – put simply, everyone should by right have access to similar levels of care on the NHS to that the Charles enjoys from the private sector – but I am buggered if I am going on a rant about it. The man’s got cancer. Let’s just forget who he is and just wish him well, as I would wish the thousands of other people who are going to get a diagnosis they don’t want this week. There’s just too much nastiness in this country at the moment and I am trying to be less nasty. Maybe we all should?


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