I’m white, established middle class, educated, reasonably intelligent, not bad looking (well I like to think so), oh…and I’m also straight…so get over it. In fact I’ve got it all going on…right? How is it then that I feel increasingly marginalised and disenfranchised in the country of my birth, England? A country that boasts the first great charter of liberties the Magna Carta Libertatum, which in turn gave rise to that other fundament of Liberty; the US Constitution.
Why for instance, do I often find myself stumbling over polite conversation, scrambling to snatch the supposedly appropriate phrase, term, or word from an increasingly complex, and bizarre politically correct lexicon? And if that sounds trivial being mentioned in the same breath as such cornerstones of liberty, it’s not.
“what’s far more insidious and damaging is the socio-political climate their highly poisonous and corrosive tears have created.”
Really? Yes really!.…I’ll tell you why; one slip of the tongue and at best I risk pariahdom, and at worst crucifixion, or a linchin’ at the hands of the regressive left Krappy Krybaby Klan or KKK for short. But it’s not just their feelings, trigger warnings, trauma, censorship, safe spaces, name calling, male-bashing, multiculturalism and their divisive hyper-focus on race, sexuality, and gender that we should be wary of, oh no…what’s far more insidious and damaging is the socio-political climate their highly poisonous and corrosive tears have created.
Thanks to the KKK it’s now OK to be a dick, it’s given license to pretty much every jobsworth, empire builder, and Nazi to behave like dicks too. Never before have so many dreadful people got away with so much socially unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour in the name of…well…socially acceptable and appropriate behaviour. It especially seems to pervade the culture of establishment organisations, bottom up top down, from the lowly “computer says no” cretin, right up to the oppressive enthusiasm of the maniacal autocrat.
For example, take the National Trust, granted it does some fine work preserving our national heritage, but under the guidance of its director general, Dame Helen Ghosh, it’s become far to big for its very well healed boots. It’s now way too officious and bureaucratic, and above all else far too smug and self-satisfied with it’s goody two shoes lot, and this is more often than not manifest by the attitude of its legion of toady retainers.
“quiet belligerence, something the army calls dumb insolence”
All too often they appear to treat the grand country houses, palaces, or stately homes, in which they serve, as their own personal fiefdom, and visitors as lumpenproletariat scum begging for alms…’Oh please don’t touch that!’. Of course its all done with a false smile and an overly polite manner, and in the affected accent of the love child of Hyacinth Bucket and Audrey Fforbes Hamilton. But it’s as far from To The Manor Born as an officious attempt at natural authority gets and it wreaks of quiet belligerence, something the army calls dumb insolence. For the more self-aware amongst us, and for those of us with a modicum of social intelligence, it just comes across as thinly veiled dickism, and all the more deceitful because of it.
I’ve felt the keen edge of this sinister subterfuge many times over the years and it’s by no means the preserve of the National Trust (I’d join English Heritage instead but they are almost as bad), but it does seem to own a growing monopoly on this particular brand of dickhood. It seems that preserving our heritage is no longer the only thing the National Trust excels at.
My wife and I have also suffered discrimination and being talked down to by its toadies for no lesser reason than we dared to liberate our young children from the remote safety of the classroom and inflict them on the real world instead. As though not having them suitably tethered and restrained we were about to loose fire and fury on precious antiquities and art treasures. Don’t get me wrong neither of my children are saints – well actually they are, but I’m biased – they’ve had their moments just like any other children but for the most part they are well balanced individuals and above all else civilised and stately-house trained.
And in the same vein there is nothing guaranteed to piss me off more than an officious old bag asking to see both mine and my wife’s family membership cards as a result of some sense of pseudo-entitlement bestowed on her by senior management, and in particular Annabel Smith, the trust’s head of volunteering and participation development. Incidentally, it was she who thought it’d be a good idea to bar volunteers from public-facing duties at a Norfolk stately home for refusing to wear rainbow gay pride badges, so by now you should be getting a vivid picture of what I’m dealing with here.
“there was something instinctively wrong with that simple and, on the surface of it at least, innocuous request that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it raised my hackles.”
The first time left me floundering for words like a fish out of water; there was something instinctively wrong with that simple and, on the surface of it at least, innocuous request that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it raised my hackles. We’ve a family membership for fuck sake, why do you need to see both cards? Once I’d got over the initial shock of being questioned about our collective right of entry on one so called family membership card, I retaliated with a quick fire fusillade of questions prefixed with why. This time the false smiles and politeness were accompanied by a few well chosen condescending platitudes, quoted from a specially prepared script, which incensed me even more. The geriatric dominatrix was obviously enjoying her moment of vicarious power, and at my expense, and obviously liked her job way too much.
She’d been here before and was waiting for such as me…those who dare do other than blindly obey. I felt like giving her a Nazi salute… he had a moustache and he lived over there…and reminding her that the Nuremburg Trials didn’t end well for all sorts of petty fuhrers.
Meanwhile my wife had pulled out her membership card as well in an attempt to diffuse the situation and gain the higher moral ground. It had the opposite effect, I’ve never seen a more smug self satisfied septuagenarian before nor since, you could tell it was a moment of personal triumph hither to unsurpassed in the sad old bags life.
This just sent me over the edge in to incandescence, and I stormed off ignoring the overly polite and triumphant wave of a guide pamphlet. Somewhere in the receding background I heard the old toady’s patronising tone offering my wife her condolences, “are you alright my dear”, as though I’d just asked for a divorce in public, which at the time my wife would’ve gladly agreed to.
Next time I’ll be ready with sarcasm as a sidekick, it’s a disarming tactic I’ve employed before with great success, and it usually has the added advantage of eliciting the desired response with minimum effort. It’s sure to piss my wife off even more, which is never wise, but on balance it’ll be worth it. During rehearsals it goes something like this…
Officious old bag to me after I’ve produced my membership card: “Do you have both family membership cards?”
Me to wife: “Darling, do you have your identification papers? The Heritage Gestapo don’t believe our nuclear family are members of the 4th Reich!”