I was intrigued by the comments on the numbered words of the Sunday post – ‘Lost Lexicon of England’ – within a few hours it had reached 150 – on a Sunday! Everybody wanted to pile in with their penn’orth. People who had never commented before suddenly burst forth into print. If I ever doubted the average age of our readers, here was proof that they were of the generation that knew Pink Gumption as a method of cleaning the new fangled cast iron bath, rather than a Gay initiative.
I was pondering this morning how it was that I had managed to turn ‘Anna Raccoon’ into the geriatric blogging Queen for the i-Zimmerframe generation, and realised that ‘Anna’ had a lot in common with UKIP and its Poundland ‘own brand’ version of Enoch Powell. We both instinctively understood that there was a world outside of cyber-savvy metro-land with its population of Spad’s and Primrose Hill dog walkers, and that those people – You! – didn’t have a voice in politics or the Internet.
The words that Petunia had listed for you, meant something to you, something beyond mere words. A something that you had once been intensely proud of; every product listed had a manufacturer, a salesman, a woman in accounts balancing the double-entry ledgers, a shopkeeper taking it off the shelves for you – what had happened to the man who once wound the IZAL paper onto its cardboard tube? Agnes in Accounts with her fondness for a Port and Lemon in the snug on her way home on a Friday night? The man who went door to door persuading housewives to give up their squares of torn up newspaper in favour of this brave new scratchy world?
The metro crowd may recoil with horror at the use of the word Chinky – but Farage is savvy enough to know that it speaks volumes to an army of disaffected voters to whom it is not a sign of bigotry – but an affectionate nickname awarded to the thousands of Chinese who arrived in Britain after the second world war, determined to adapt their recipes and make a new life here. The British, in return, adapted their tastebuds and learnt to love ‘wriggly worms’ and unfamiliar flavourings, and took the local ‘Chinky’ to their hearts, awarding it similar nickname status as the ‘Chippie’. Bigots, my foot, there is barely a village in England that doesn’t boast a ‘Chinky’ these days – testament, if it was needed, to the lack of bigotry in these lands.
Those old enough to remember those days listen to Farage defending his East End candidate’s use of the word ‘Chinky’ and cheer him on – he may not have any policies beyond ‘leave the EU’ and ‘cut immigration’, but he knows how to appeal to the voter who remembers IZAL toilet paper.
If those voters hadn’t been so monumentally forgotten; if their pensions hadn’t been sold down the river, if Agnes from Accounts wasn’t languishing in a dismal care home bereft of her Port and Lemon, if the man who wound IZAL round cardboard tube hadn’t been made redundant by the lily livered generation who came after us – that we reared, determined that they should have a better life and introduced to the delights of the softest ever double thread count toilet tissue, as made by Chinese workers, in China, as part of the global economy – they might still be voting Labour.
The YouGov poll for the Sun concluded that the ‘over 60s’ were least likely to have been offended by the term – whereas Labour backbench MPs (those who wish that potential UKIP voters would vote for them) were most likely to be offended, on behalf of Chinkys everywhere. Nobody bothered to poll the Chinese take-away owners, nor the Hong Kong manufacturers of Chinky toothpaste.
Trouble is – we did too good a job of creating a better life for this new permanently outraged generation. We kicked the aristocrats out of the ‘establishment’ – and installed the chemist’s son, and then the grocer’s daughter into Number 10. We took prime pieces of riverside land and created blocks of council flats on them, that came to be known as Dolphin Square. Come to that – the chemist’s son would never have got into number 10, were it not for the likes of Mandy Rice Davies, who knew exactly how to scoff at the aristocracy with her legendary ‘he would say that, wouldn’t he’ riposte to Viscount Astor denying he had slept with her.
Profumo and the Conservative government crumpled under the weight of laughter. We weren’t frightened of the ‘establishment’ – we invented political satire and the irreverent Peter Cook perfectly encapsulated our complete disrespect for ‘establishment’ with his merciless ribbing of Harold MacMillan’s ‘four minute warning of nuclear war’ when he jibed in suitably upper class tones to an audience that included MacMillan – “ I would remind (the voters) there are some people in this great country of ours who can run a mile in four minutes”. The audience roared with laughter.
Across the land, East End paraffin salesmen were remerging as multi-millionaire property dealers; tool makers who worked for the unions stood as MPs. Some of those East End lads sent their sons to Public Schools, Eton, Fettes – they could well afford them – they emerged with degrees in philosophy, politics and economics and went into politics! We haven’t had a genuine aristocrat in the ‘establishment’ since that left wing firebrand Tony Benn.
Blocks of council flats such as Dolphin Square were quickly inhabited by MPs and other refugees from the tough world of calling the toolmakers out on strike – and the dustmen and dinner ladies who had first been given the keys to those apartments hurried off with their windfall to live in Spain, sipping Sangria round the pool.
Now those of us who are over 60 watch bemused as daily the media tell us that the ‘close association’ between a Leeds Bevan Boy turned Disc Jockey and the Grocer’s daughter represents an ‘establishment’ of which they are/were so terrified that they were stunned into silence for 30 years – until rescued by the caring hands of an Australian Legal firm that is going to put everything all right for them with a fat cheque – for the legal firm….
Apparatchiks at the BBC are falling over themselves to appeal to anybody who might employ them in the future – first they assured us that they knew ‘all along’ that Savile was abusing girls and boys with gay abandon but they were ‘too scared’ to tell anyone, because he noshed his Christmas dinner with the Grocer’s daughter every year (a claim now comprehensively debunked by Tim Bell who was at that Chequers lunch every year for all 11 years that she held it – and never met Savile!); now they say that they knew all along that the BBC had botched and skewed coverage of immigration, but were ‘too scared’ to mention that too….Mea Culpas all round – and Esther Rantzen, hand-wringer extraordinaire, in the New Year’s honours list?
It is hard to work out where this new ‘class war’ is heading. Last Sunday I found myself scratching my head as Andrew Marr, ‘raving leftie’ by his own admission – but privately educated son of an investment banker – prepared to grill the nearest thing we have to a hereditary Peer these days, Lord Mandelson, grandson of Herbert Morrison, PPE graduate, and architect of the Labour revival which saw the introduction of mass immigration to these shores, as to future plans to disempower this ‘establishment’.
‘Could be an interesting interview’ I said to myself – before being treated to the sight of the pair of them waxing lyrical over Mandelson and his Brazilian’s joy at having found a new home in Wiltshire.
‘I am going to rent a modest dwelling in deepest Wiltshire next door to the herdsman and his family.
What he didn’t mention was his neighbour on the other side – and owner of this house that he is renting. Nathaniel Rothschild; the same Rothschild that he once shared a birch leaves thrashing with in a Finnish sauna.
“We were beaten by a 25-year-old banya keeper man, who has spent his life perfecting the art of banya.
“Then we jumped into ice-cold water. It is the best way in the world to beat jet lag and everything else. It was incredibly enjoyable.
From where I am sitting, this ‘establishment’ looks about as terrifying as Quentin Crisp having a panic attack.
How did we manage to rear a generation terrified of them – and what in God’s name are they planning to replace them by?
Your starter for 10….