One of my greatest embarrassments, still, is my accent.  Perhaps it’s one of the reasons why I went off travelling.’ 

Ben Fogle, ‘New Lives in the Wild’, Channel 5, 18/1/22.

I remember watching that very programme.  It’s one in which Ben goes to Greece to spend time with Sandy and her dogs.  Sandy – she from her boarding school background – who cites the class system in Britain as one of the reasons she left.  Not convinced.  She struck me as a lonely, troubled woman who had run away from her background – her childhood and her family – rather, seeking comfort, solace and purpose in her burgeoning ‘family’ of rescue dogs.  I think Ben recognised a bit of himself in her.  Certainly, it was a memorable episode and one evoking real pathos when, at the end, it was time to say goodbye.  Not only had I scrambled for a piece of paper and a pen to record that astonishing opening quote earlier but, on the back, I now wrote down my thoughts: the obvious emotion felt by both Sandy and Ben, as he left, heightened only by the sight of the little three-legged rescue dog, Piglet, mustering all her strength to negotiate the stairs in her farewell; but, moreover, my compelling conclusion that, regardless of their choices, most who turn their backs on the rat race – seeking a new life off-grid – are running away from something and loneliness is the price they pay.

Only recently, I answered the door to some market researcher for Ofcom – supposedly.  Flashing his ID, which I couldn’t read without my glasses, he could just as well have been a serial fraudster – or canvassing for the SNP – but I do remember giving him my usual line: Ben Fogle’s ‘New Lives in the Wild’ is my only reason for having a TV licence.  So true.

However, back to Ben’s words at the top: his accent being one of his ‘greatest embarrassments’.  Not only astonishing, that is so sad!  For Ben’s accent is part of who he is; his background and his upbringing.  He is a product of both and lives the life befitting of his accent.  Why should he ever be embarrassed by it or feel the need to apologise for it?  A telling indictment on society today …

Sweepingly, in a world of quotas beholden to budgets and ‘woke’, there is no longer any place for merit.  Jobs are not won on merit.  Education, ability, expertise, intelligence, character – the list goes on – all pale into insignificance when it comes to ticking the boxes of colour, gender and class.  So, it is that our Culture Secretary, the delightful Nadine Dorries, has seemingly pressurised the BBC into pledging that – by 2027 – a quarter of all employees will come from working-class backgrounds.  Nothing to do with her vow that its licence fee settlement would be contingent on plans to create a more socially diverse workforce!  Why, though?  Well, actually, two ‘why’s?  Firstly, why the fixation – requiring of blackmail – with such a quota?  Rhetorical.  That being the case, a huge question not only hangs over her joining the Conservative Party in the first place but, moreover, her successive promotion courtesy of Boris!  Honestly.  Talk about a hidden agenda …  I have just been reading her ‘best bits’ consisting of numerous investigations regarding expenses, the employment of her daughter – living 96 miles from her supposed office – for an exaggerated salary and, not forgetting, her participation in ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ in 2012.  That pillar of society is, now, using her position to indulge her chip, fly the flag for the ‘woke’ minority and bury the word ‘merit’ for all time.  All hail democracy!

That’s not all, folks!  Look across the water to Disney and its Re-imagine Tomorrow campaign.  Announced on a company-wide Zoom call, last week, Karey Burke – Disney’s General Entertainment President – has called for fifty percent of all future characters and content to be from under-represented groups: namely, those belonging to the LGBTQIA community (just me who can’t keep up?) or from racial minorities.   The Disney executive remarked that the changes reflected her personal life ‘as the mother of two queer children – actually, one transgender child and one pansexual child – and also as a leader.’  NO!  Unacceptable.  Your ‘personal life’ should not, so blatantly, impact on your decisions affecting the majority. 

Disney’s bid for “inclusivity’ has meant deliberately ‘adding queerness’ to shows and production.  In real terms, that means the decision to remove all mention of ‘ladies’, ‘gentlemen’, ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ in its theme parks.  No, in actual real terms, that means the Tyranny of Tolerance and an inclusivity that succumbs to the ‘woke’ minority distorting a world which still upholds tradition – indeed, is born of tradition – its very history dependent on it!  Adam and Eve.  A man and a woman, in the traditional sense.  One can no more erase history, on a whim, than wipe out the heterosexual majority – and why should any balanced individual wish to try?  Indeed, the world continues to evolve and inclusivity should be an incumbent part of that but not to the detriment of others and, certainly not, to the detriment of the majority.  The very word, ‘inclusivity’, suggests otherwise.  Militant gender manifestos do nothing to promote kindness and that, above all else, is what’s needed.  Fairy tales may not come true but we still believe in them and nobody has the right to deprive a little girl of her dreams of being a princess – in all her wonderful, traditional glory!

Suitably cheered, confident in a world focused on the greater good, subject to the unbiased government of those in power?  Me, neither.  What of the news, yesterday, of the £50 fine issued to Helen MacNamara, former Deputy Cabinet Secretary, who was in charge of propriety and ethics at Whitehall?  The first to be named as a Partygate scandal fine recipient, it was she who provided the karaoke machine for the ‘raucous’ Covid rule-breaking bash which, reportedly, ended in a drunken brawl.  This was on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, last year, at which the Queen sat alone and the singing of hymns was prohibited …

£50?  No sum can erase the callousness of such behaviour but £50?  Rewind to January, 2021 when two innocent women were surrounded by police and fined £200 each for driving five miles for a walk and a coffee!  Admittedly, public outrage later ensured the fines were rescinded but still.

Whatever happened to decency?  Has it, too, been consigned to the annuls of history along with merit?  It would seem so.  In which case, courage is paramount and a belief in fairy tales, a must!

If I’m honest, I have to tell you, I still read fairy tales and I like them best of all.’ 

Audrey Hepburn

Me, too.

This is Trish, signing off.