It may well be time I retired from this journalism business; ‘Regular Journal Reader’ and ‘Stuart from Birmingham’ would certainly agree.
“I was HORRIFIED to see you refer in today’s column to HER MAJESTY the Queen as Her Royal Highness,” wrote my anonymous Regular Reader, wondering why “with all your knowledge of national and international affairs” I didn’t use her correct title.
A mistake, dear Regular Reader (who, from the neatness of handwriting, lined notepaper and reluctance to be identified, is probably female and of a generation beyond mine own). An error, pure and simple. So sue me. Write to my editor. Complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Join Hacked Off. Lobby Lord Leveson. Although, I fear, they will all require your real name and address.
What got up Stuart from Birmingham’s nose, on the other hand, was something I said in my regular Saturday night newspaper review slot on Radio Five Live rather than anything I wrote. His emailed breathless prose (he doesn’t pause for air) lacked capital letters, full stops or apostrophes but left me in little doubt of my inadequacy.
“i am getting sick to my teeth of leftist hypocrites like you david banks preaching to everybody on the stephen nolan show how fantastic mass immigration and diversity is”. Are you beginning to get the picture, gentle reader?
He continued: “you dont practise what you preach banks do you oh no you dont because you chose to live in a nice middle class village in leafy ALL WHITE [my capitals] northumberland where there has been no mass immigration at all if you like immigration and immigrants that much david banks move down to bradford birmingham or tower hamlets in London.”
At least Stuart gave me his full name and an email address to which I will reply and enclose a copy of this column which – given that he chooses to live in a city far-distant from The Journal’s distribution – he would otherwise not see.
Yes, I chose to live in this remote and under-resourced corner of England because I’m a romantic retiree and because half of my family sprang from the Borders meaning I spent almost a quarter of my boyhood in this land that I love. Choice? A no-brainer, actually.
Previously I had ‘chosen’ to live in a poor, mixed (Stuart would call it ‘mass immigrant’) suburb of London’s East End and in New York, that most diverse of cities where a statue called Liberty has for centuries welcomed the world’s ‘tired, poor, huddled masses’ (‘immigrants’ to you, Stuart) to safe harbour on her shores.
So what of the Radio Five broadcast that marked me out as “a bloody grade 1 hypocrite who should practise what you preach you ignorant buffoon”, according to the Book of Stuart (Chapter 1, verse 1 as there will undoubtedly be more)?
I never hear my own broadcasts (naturally enough, given that I am the bigmouth dishing it out rather than one of the unfortunate listeners on the receiving end), although I can get a bit carried away when arguing with that devil’s advocate, Stephen Nolan.
And I dislike the xenophobic overtones of stories like the one in last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph which reported that “187,000 Bulgarian and Romanian migrants were given national insurance numbers last year”, making them the biggest national groups to come here from the EU.
Even so, I’m pretty sure I was simply arguing that their arrival was perfectly legal, probably temporary and good for Britain in terms of diversity and certainly no reason to blame ‘immigrants’ for all of our ills. Stuart obviously disagreed.
I feel sure ‘Her Maj’, nice woman that she is, would come down on my side. What say you, Regular Reader?
Gamekeepers and tenant farmers don’t always see eye to eye; the keeper works for the landowner, you see, while the farmer grumbles he works for the Revenue.
So when a local keeper ‘upped the security’ on his pheasant wood he put a chain and padlock on the adjacent grazing field’s five-bar gate to keep out motorised poachers, informed the farmer by text message . . . and kept the only key.
A problem for the irked farmer getting access to his own field? Not at all. He stayed quite calm.
“Completely understand need for security,” the farmer texted in reply. “Have also added a padlocked chain of my own.”!