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LIVE 24-SEVEN


“ I DON’T RECOGNI SE MY COUNTRY ANYMORE. . . . ”


This has become a sadly familiar refrain from many an older, probably white, (but certainly not just middle class) Brit.


But I have just, only a few minutes ago Dear Reader, as I head north by train on this cold, grey February morning, heard these very words from a seat further down the carriage from...would you believe...a guy clearly of Asian descent in conversation with his colleague. I eagerly eavesdropped and what I heard has stimulated me into sharing these thoughts with you immediately.


IWhat has so surprised me is that what is usually behind this remark is a sentiment (spoken or otherwise) about race, religion or colour. Nuff said.


This morning’s train-borne revelation (I really am writing this in ‘real time’ – we’ve just gone through Carlisle!) saw these couple of guys using these words to complain to each other about something utterly different.


They are, it transpires, children of those fabulous, heroic people “The Ugandan Asians”. Thrown out of their own country on account of the colour of their skin and the God they worship by the disgusting dictator Idi Amin in 1972, (how Uganda could have done with their wealth, jobs and tax creative abilities over the past 45 years!) their parents arrived penniless in the UK. The rest, my friends, is history. As an immigrant grouping, their contribution to our (to become thankfully “their”) country’s skill-set, wealth, tax-generation and cultural development has been nothing short of staggering.


What my fellow passengers were lamenting was the appalling reduction in tolerance in our society; the farcical increase in political correctness; the “laughable if it wasn’t so worrying” campaigning by snowflake millennials which achieves instant surrender by the “Authorities” and the expulsion of tolerance, of humour and (to quote one of these two north-heading chaps just now) “saying goodbye to Common Sense”. They are lamenting the loss of the very things they and their parents found attractive in our nation all those years ago.


This got me reflecting on just a few of the absurdities and the appalling behaviour of the past few weeks:


• Evidently some of those playing bowls in Shropshire are complaining about remarks being made by players or spectators. I quote from The Times: “Incidents include Welsh teams being described as “sheep shaggers” and some larger players being mocked over their weight.” They have succeeded in securing stricter sanctions from The Shropshire Crown Green Bowling Association for antisocial behaviour! (Memo to self: seek a protocol from the WRFU that on my thoroughly enjoyable visit to Cardiff every other year to watch the English XV beat the Welsh XV I must no longer be called a “Fat Git from across the Bristol Channel”. For some 45 years I have found these remarks so hurtful, life-changing and disrespectful that I have had to seek remedy in another pie and (yet another!) pint of Brains Bitter).


• The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a billboard poster for Tunnock’s Tea Cakes showing a woman holding a tea cake (yes Dear Reader, you’ve got it, a tea cake for Godsake!) in place of a tennis ball at the top of her thigh with her tennis skirt raised at the hip. The message underneath read “Where do you keep yours?” alongside two packs of tea cakes and the message “Serve up a treat”. (My mind is now full of that Athena tennis girl poster I pinned to my bedroom wall in the early seventies). Back to tea cakes Jones! Concentrate! The tea cake poster was displayed near the Hydro Arena in Glasgow before an Andy Murray v Roger Federer charity match last November. One (just one!) person complained that it was sexist and objectified women ...and the ASA concluded it was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers and that it was demeaning to women.


Oh! I should have mentioned that the same ASA has dismissed 120 complaints for TV advertisements for Paco Rabanne XS, seen on our screens last July and August, showing a man getting undressed in a bathroom as women peered through a one-way mirror, cheering and finally fainting and collapsing. Evidently this didn’t objectify men (nor did it reinforce stereotypes of women as weak and powerless). By all accounts the scenario was not realistic and the timing was comedic or farcical. So presumably, using a tea cake as a tennis ball wasn’t comedic or farcical?). (Memo to self: remember that the next time you get out of a hotel pool and show off your stunning, finely-honed torso, you are comedic and farcical, but no matter how damaging to my self-respect this might be, no matter how as a man this will have changed my life forever...tough!)


• The Home Secretary Amber Rudd makes a non-partisan speech in the Commons in the debate to celebrate 100 years since women first got the vote and observes that so many


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