A fine way to improve social mobility – we have rid the Education Department of the adopted child of an Aberdeen fish-gutter, educated in the local school to such a high standard that he was selected to read English at Oxford and become President of the Oxford Union light years before Oxford was forced to take in state pupils from impoverished backgrounds ‘simply because’, and replaced him with a middle class ‘corporate lawyer’ from the home shires. OK, she is a woman, that is her other qualification. Window dressing for a party that is more terrified of the opinion of Mumsnet than it is of UKIP.
The ‘pale male’ is being airbrushed out of view left, right, and centre. Would Gove have survived to fight for the education of children such as he once was, had he been fashionably black or female? Is there a single advertisement left on television that contains a ‘pale male’ able to put one foot in front of the other, never mind talk at the same time, without the patronising guidance of a smart woman in the background? We can’t count ‘Malcolm’ who is not only safe around children, but deserving of a mortgage from the Halifax, ‘cos he is obviously Afro-Carribean…
I alluded yesterday to the delightful cafe at the Newhaven ferry depot. Not only do they make cheese sandwiches from bread cut from a proper loaf, they serve a decent mug of char – and provide a table full of second hand magazines that are there to amuse you. Thus it was that I armed myself with a pile of ‘House Beautiful’, ‘Country Living’ and the like left behind by previous passengers – the sort of magazines I haven’t seen in years owing to their prohibitive price in France. Listening to Bob Roberts on Radio Sussex in the background playing Victor Silvester I promptly succumbed to the first bout of home sickness I have ever experienced!
Leafing through the magazines, I soon became aware of an interesting phenomena. Men had been airbrushed out of the picture in every single magazine, unless they were gay; it was almost as though they had all been written by the same hand.
There was ‘Claire’ and the delightfully photogenic and tousle haired ‘Jamie and Samantha’ with the family Labrador ‘Peaches’, collecting armfuls of fresh herbs from the ‘potager’. You don’t have veg patches in England anymore apparently. Then ‘Claire’ in the ‘studio’ of her sprawling tump of manicured west country 16th century farmhouse where she makes lampshades out of recycled eiderdowns. Little ‘Samantha’ taking a tray of freshly iced cup cakes out of the Aga – and not a sign of the icing melting..! ‘Jamie’ out gathering twiglets to light the vast inglenook – and narry a mention of a husband financing this idyllic lifestyle. Perhaps ‘Claire’ is divorced, I thought, she sure as Hell didn’t aspire to this three quarters of a million quids worth of country idyl on the proceeds of chopping up old eiderdowns.
Then ‘Sarah’, dying old french bed linen with a witches brew of eye of newt and toe of frog, and turning the result into cushions…which apparently supported a custom built kitchen and lime stone flooring throughout ‘which preserved the charm’ of her ancient medieval farmhouse. There were the kids again, making daisy chains in the three acres of gardens, and the requisite dog looking suitably pedigree. There was Sarah, off to the farmer’s market in her top of the range Range Rover. No sign of whoever spent the week-end cutting the grass. ‘Not on tie and die cushions’ my brain said.
Eventually I was leafing through copy after copy – just looking for an admission that a man had helped ‘Katherine’ haul that French armoire she had found ‘whilst on holiday in Provence’ up the two flights of circular stone staircase, and who had heaved the top onto that 9′ pine dresser that ‘Madeleine’ tastefully displayed with her extensive collection of Clarice Cliff pottery? They didn’t get a word in edgeways – airbrushed out of existence. ‘Niki’ had taken things a stage further – she had instructed her ‘team of craftsmen’ in the ancient art of pargetting, shown them how to use lime wash to age the replacement beams, and stopped them when they threatened to heave the ‘magnificent’ cornish range into the skip – all paid for apparently with the proceeds of embroidering robins on scraps of fabric ‘salvaged from her grandmothers attic’ – and turned into lampshades, yet again.
The only men who were ever admitted to this cosy world were ‘Clive and George’ who had restored a magnificent sea front pile in Brighton, or rather ‘they’d had the builders in for six months and it was Hell’.
What has happened to all the men who fathered those angelic children? Can all these women have been the recipients of generous divorce settlements or inheritances? Every house that I’ve ever been involved in the restoration of, or been aware of, has had a stoic male (Mr G!) sweating away pulling down ceilings, ripping out copper piping that would have been beyond my strength – or taking the 6.03 from Pangbourne up to the city every day to pay for someone else to do it!
The ‘pale male’ is fast becoming the creature that dare not mention its name.
Now Michael Gove has been put away in the closet, and the Conservative party is busy pretending that women are doing all the work.
This is some social revolution we are witnessing folks.