Not a day goes by without finding myself astonished by the national news headlines and the level of importance given to some ‘controversial’ issues. If you, dear reader, are easily offended may I humbly suggest you skip this column and go on to one of the remaining 47 pages that fill this excellent magazine and which are not written by me.
Still here? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you! I am sure that there must be a group of people to whom ‘gender reassignment’ is crucially important and whose children are gradually being taught that even though they grew up thinking they were ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ due to the biological factors which gave them the standard male or female equipment, their choice of ‘gender’ and the associated pronouns is actually down to them.
I’m of the old school. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, then it’s a duck. You want to duck out of it? Well, go ahead if you can afford it and as long as you don’t offend anyone else or frighten the horses. There is nothing to stop you believing whatever you like about yourself but don’t bring those ideas into the public eye unless you’re really going to do it properly, scalpels and all. There is only one Sam Smith – an excellent entertainer – and many of us feel that although two would be company, three would indeed be a crowd.
And now look at the harsh realities of 21st century life. Half the world racked by war while we worry about football results and who’s getting kicked out of Love Island this week. The news coverage of the earthquake disaster reduced me to tears. Did it have the same effect on you? Are you still enjoying your cooking programmes while children are starving to death less than 1,000 miles away? Or are you more concerned with the serious issues raised by Scottish Nationalism and the Northern Ireland situation than people being tortured in China for their Uyghur Muslim beliefs. Or Boko Haram in Nigeria. Or somewhere else that isn’t ‘here’.
I know that a good proportion of my columns is taken up with the minutiae of local government, planning, roads and railways, and perhaps I too should take a moment to take in what the Russians are doing, and to the lines of homeless refugees criss-crossing our planet hoping vainly to find Nirvana. Or just shelter and a next meal.
Putin and his ilk won’t go away. Neither did Hitler until my dad’s generation grew some – and eventually he was stopped and people said ‘if only we’d known’. Who’s worse? The Russians, or those who cringe in fear and hope that said Russians can be peacefully persuaded to turn tail and march home?
And we’re even making an issue of words in children’s books! It was suggested that the latest editions of the excellent Roald Dahl books should be bowdlerised and references to ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ and ‘black’ should be removed! But what about Thomas the Tank Engine’s slightly overweight controller? And should Queen’s ‘amply proportioned girls’ be removed from my playlist? Ridiculous suggestions all.
And, fortunately, Puffin has rejected the complaints and is continuing to publish in the ‘old’ format.
I am fortunate I enjoy the freedom of speech earned by our forerunners – oops, nearly said forefathers – and can still write. You don’t have to like Clarkson, pictured inset. Or Piers Morgan. Or me. But then you don’t have to read any of our work. Turn the page. Switch channels.
Still here? Thanks!
Our electric grid is overloaded and unreliable now. How about we fix that before we try to make everyone go all electric? Visions of unusable electric cars stranded in snowdrifts or even long-range traffic jams on our motorways waiting for recovery vehicles to try and get through to tow them where? To join queues at the next service area? And will the penalty for running out of electricity in a motorway queue be the same as it costs now to have a broken-down car towed off the motorway and left on the slip road? Between £150 and £300, plus storage charges and release fees – watch this space.
But London-based government makes the decisions for us nowadays – and it seems that loss of common sense is a prerequisite for these elected officials? Oh, right, a lot of them are career politicians.
I am following with interest the saga of the new lights at Days Park. Which according to one well-qualified contributor to the Facebook argument – and a contributor to our letters column in the last issue – are likely to harm the children within view. He has written to the county council and as yet we have seen no more than the standard reply justifying its decision. After all, for county to admit it is making further enquiries based on this new evidence would be tantamount to DC admitting it might have been wrong.
I’m also following the ongoing saga of the inflatables on Sandpit Field, permission for which has been turned down by Swanage Town Council. There are several versions of this story out there but fortunately my friend Martin Ayres – the town clerk – has promised me a press release when all the facts are at his disposal. Until that arrives, I cannot and will not comment other than to share the public disappointment if this doesn’t go ahead. Watch our next issue!