Today is Victoria Day in Canada, a national holiday celebrating the life of Queen Victoria and her huge contribution to Canada! Okay…ummm.
To celebrate the occasion, in my heading I slightly reword Leonard Cohen for dramatic flare. Treason, you say? Now do you see the extremes we will go to celebrate Queen Vickie’s influence on our country? For the record the first line of Cohen’s Queen Victoria from his album Live Songs, released on April Fool’s Day, 1973, is “Queen Victoria, My father and all his tobacco loved you.”
And here’s the rest of the lyrics:
“I love you too in all your forms, the slim and lovely virgin floating among German beer, the mean governess of the huge pink maps, the solitary mourner of a prince.
“Queen Victoria, I am cold and rainy, I am dirty as a glass roof in a train station, I feel like an empty cast iron exhibition, I want ornaments on everything, because my love, she gone with other boys.
“Queen Victoria, do you have a punishment under the white lace, will you be short with her, will you make her read those little Bibles, will you spank her with a mechanical corset. I want her pure as power, I want her skin slightly musty with petticoats will you wash the easy bidet out of her head?
“Queen Victoria, I’m not much nourished by modern love, will you come into my life with your sorrow and your black carriages, And your perfect memories.
“Queen Victoria, the Twentieth Century belongs to you and me. Let us be two severe giants not less lonely for our partnership, who discolour test tubes in the halls of Science, who turn up unwelcome at every World’s Fair, heavy with proverbs and corrections, confusing the star-dazed tourists with our incomparable sense of loss.” Hear Cohen sing his dirge. Sing along.
That’s the view of our dear Queen Vickie from a straight Montreal Jew. Now let’s check in with a young British bisexual from North London, Ray Davies of the Kinks, for his take on Queen-Vic-Wah with the lead-off track from the Kinks 1969 concept album, the very brackety Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), called Victoria, a much less sombre ditty:
“Long ago life was clean. Sex was bad and obscene. And the rich were so mean. Stately homes for the Lords Croquet lawns, village greens Victoria was my queen Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria
I was born, lucky me. In a land that I love. Though I am poor, I am free. When I grow I shall fight For this land I shall die Let her sun never set Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, toria
Land of hope and gloria Land of my Victoria Land of hope and gloria Land of my Victoria Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria
Canada to India Australia to Cornwall Singapore to Hong Kong From the West to the East From the rich to the poor Victoria loved them all Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria” Hear the Kinks sing it.
Rather than singing tributes to Miss Vickie, Canadians usually celebrate the first long weekend of the summer with beer, fireworks, the previously-mentioned mechanical corsets (available every summer weekend at the flea market in Watrous, SK) and blood rituals at sunset and sunrise.