From the back of the front line by Trevor Plumbly
Honours and horrors
I’ve made a few mistakes this week. The first was to scan the Queen’s birthday honours list. For some strange reason, I follow this every year; it’s a bit like squeezing pimples, it’s not pleasant but people do it anyway. I do it, not to check if I’ve been included, more to see if they can top last year’s inanities.
True to form, there’s a ‘Sir’ for a rejected prime minister, baubles for a forgotten pop star, some sportsfolk and whoopee, a ‘cookery writer’ (services to glazed carrots?). Those performing ‘services to commerce’ (rich buggers) slid in as usual. I tried to understand how the odd tap on the shoulder has given way to this annual honorific lolly scramble, but gave up. Next I watched a news report on a party given at a multi-million dollar mansion north of Auckland. The nouveaux riches swarmed like biblical locusts garbed for the ‘Gatsby’ theme, parading their ‘haveness’ while the nausea quotient was augmented by a fawning reporter and a hostess with the gall to mention ‘class’. Maybe Dylan was right: ‘Money don’t talk, it curses’.
OK, I’m a grumpy old sod, but I just don’t see the point in perpetuating this remnant of forelock tugging days. Except for business letters, I haven’t addressed anyone as ‘Sir’ since my schooldays and, in a multi-ethnic egalitarian society, why the hell should I? Knighthoods were conferred to reward loyalty, courage and chivalry, somewhat dated attributes these days, along with the concept of superior rank and title. We need to show our young immigrants a more appealing prospect than this throwback to English elitism. Oddly enough, many recipients rarely use the title personally or add the alphabet soup in correspondence, so why bother with all the rigmarole and status? Let’s just have one all-embracing award: The NZ Medal.
Notes from the armchair bunker
Another thing that set the old pulse racing was the ‘new’ initiative to combat child poverty and abuse. The number of ethnic, cultural, religious and welfare contributors is growing even as I’m writing this; it must be more complex than originally thought. The consultants are breeding like rabbits and might even need consultants to help them consult.
God only knows how this sudden necessity for collective guidance arrived, but it’s certainly not helping towards definitive action. Surely, as New Zealanders, we all accept that child abuse is abhorrent; to water that down under the guise of cultural or ethnic custom is equally wrong. We owe children the protection of clear actionable legislation, not the reams of PC crap they look like ending up with. Finally, back to the Megabuck Mansion party: try ‘Les Miserables’ next year folks, you might learn something, but please don’t stick your particular brand of vulgar wealth in my face via the news media, it’s just not . . .’classy’. Cheers, T.
Perhaps you don’t get to read the obits in the Times (or is it the London Times?) Anyway, Harold Wilson’s widow has just died. Apparently she was quite a poet which I found interesting, but apart from that and more to the point, she hated to have to sign correspondence to the Queen as ‘your obedient servant’ I thought that was interesting.
I couldn’t agree more (and very well said,Trevor) – especially your point about accepting intolerable practices under the name of ethnic customs.