This weekend saw street parties up and down United Kingdom. We attended one in Aylestone and the grey skies over us did not burst to rain – unlike the next day on Sunday. We enjoyed a plentiful potluck lunch with sandwiches, sausage rolls, pizza, crisps, fruit and cakes, flushed down with squash or carbonated drinks. The PA system was blasting music from the yesteryear and the children had a bouncy castle. The street was closed and the bunting suggested the type of the festivity. It was the Jubilee weekend after all.
I really enjoyed the event although I am from a republic and prefer elected governance through and through. Nevertheless, there is something comfortably traditional and simultaneously unbelievably naff in the remaining royal houses. We do need some froth in our lives and the monarchs have curiosity value if nothing else. During this Diamond jubilee in this particular street party the atmosphere was not brilliant but it was more to do with the grey weather. If the party had taken place the previous hot and sunny weekend the people would have been singing and dancing along the road.
I was left wondering if there will be any archaeological reminders from this street party. Everything was removed from the spot afterwards and the bunting will come down eventually. The modern dumps are not in the back gardens so there will be no feast deposits on the spot or nearby unless people forget the decorations in their gardens. However, in the landfill sites there will probably be a layer of masks with royal faces, bunting with Union Jacks and paper napkins and table cloths. These days there will not be huge piles of bones or pottery shards or oyster shells as there once was.
The papers will feature the Jubilee and leave fleetingly a material memory of the street parties. Most of the memory has moved to the digital domain, though. This blog will live in a virtual landscape and similarly the video films and photographs from this particular party are digital. The garbage archaeologists of the future may find perishable remains from the depths of the landfill sites but even the historical knowledge of the event is moving to the world of the pixels. No glazed beer jugs or painted pottery in structured deposits down the road afterwards. Just structured landfills further afield with plastic blue, red and white party hooters and files saved perhaps fleetingly in the World Wide Web.