THE United Kingdom already felt like a surrealist, right-wing nightmare even before Liz Truss became Prime Minister and the Queen died in the same week – but now it’s like living in a country going through poppy season on steroids.

Listening to the rolling, non-stop news of the passing of Britain’s monarch at the age of 96, you would think it nigh impossible to even get to the shops without pressing through the wailing and gnashing of teeth of four nations in fierce mourning.

But the reality is, in looking out my window, the world looks broadly the same as it did the day before she died. The decomposing mattress on my street corner is exactly as it was a week ago. Liz Truss still doesn’t know when to pause while delivering a speech. And people are still terrified about how they’ll pay their heating bills this winter.

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A collective madness claws at the heart of the British state, and we’re all expected to play our part whether we like it or not. And while some call for restraint during this period of enforced solemnity, I believe this is in fact the most crucial time to flood the media with criticism, difficult facts and, yes, tasteless mockery of Elizabeth’s reign. The British media are laser-focused on a single perspective of the monarch’s time on the throne to exclusion of all others: that of a long-serving monarch who did her duty faithfully and with dignity, and whose accomplishments are an inspiration to us all – though trying to pin anyone down on what those accomplishments actually are is a challenge I have yet to see anyone truly rise to.

The cancellation of the football card appears to have been borne, not from a well-meaning but misguided desire to show respect, but reportedly over concerns that fans wouldn’t play the assigned role of dutiful serf during stadium tributes to the late Queen. Televised dissent in the stands would break the illusion of a nation on the constant brink of tears over a woman they had never met.

The United Kingdom being portrayed on television and in print is one I think that most of us would struggle to recognise. Keir Starmer’s comments that the Queen “didn’t reign over us” but “lived alongside us” is such a bizarre reframing of the relationship between the public and a millionaire monarch with a history of changing the law to suit her personal interests.

Corporations and institutions lined up to post tributes beneath hastily recoloured black-and-white variations of their logos, including Pizza Express who honestly should have considered sitting this one out.

The feverish, breathless coverage of the death of the Queen led even otherwise sensible journalists to make some absolute clangers in service to the dominant narrative. The BBC came under fire after one journalist described the energy crisis, a national catastrophe in the making, as “insignificant now” given the “gravity of the situation” at Balmoral. Sky News mistook a march through London over the murder of Chris Kaba, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of the Metropolitan Police, for an impromptu funeral march in honour of the Queen.

And when commentators did finally find a reason outwith unquestioning fealty as to justify why the nation was supposedly mourning so, it was usually in the form of comfort in her consistent presence over the decades.

This isn’t a period of mourning. It’s a period of myth making. And if we wait until the royalists decide on our behalf that a sufficient amount of time has passed to begin critiquing the royal family again, we will find ourselves facing a barred door that cannot be re-opened.

The impact of Elizabeth’s reign on countries around the world that faced the brutal violence of Britain’s colonialism has been entirely excluded from her legacy, replaced with the sanitised image of a kindly matriarch whose actions were largely benign, and whose expensive jewel collection came from places unknown that it was best not to ask about.

There’s a reason that every image of mourners outside Buckingham Palace and elsewhere shows almost exclusively white faces.

So no, I won’t play this little game that we’re all expected to. I want the Queen to be remembered as the monarch who tried to use a state poverty fund to heat her palace; the Queen who secured exemptions in equalities law so that Buckingham Palace could legally block people of colour from working there; the Queen who gave shelter to and financially supported Prince Andrew while he fought allegations of sexual abuse. She was the “parasite in chief in her idiot hat”, to quote actor Christopher Eccleston.

So while the Daily Mail plays the role of bootlicker and publishes stories of the Queen’s head being spotted in the clouds shortly after her passing, I’ll remain critical of her legacy and of the exemptions her family wrangled to ensure that the new King could inherit the entirety of his mother’s wealth without paying a penny in inheritance tax.

And, importantly too, I’ll keep making jokes that it was Paddington Bear that got her in the end.