Anorak News | Just Say No

Just Say No

by | 22nd, December 2003

‘ONCE upon a time, when someone turned down an honour it was big news, and there was something of an outcry.

Doris was a disappointing Widow Twanky

John Lennon even managed to cause trouble twice: first by accepting his MBE (”honour is cheapened,” claimed one decorated RAF man), and then by returning it to the Queen in a brown envelope as a protest against events in Biafra and Vietnam, and the poor performance of his latest single.

Now it is so common that the papers can no longer focus on individual cases.

Instead they publish a long list of refuseniks, which, in the case of a paper such as the Guardian, is presented almost like a roll of honour.

Reasons for declining vary, but most are for reasons of modesty or misguided republicanism.

Sometimes the latter bunch gets a bit bolshy, and it is sad to see the press providing a soap box for some of the more extreme views.

Worst of all is the writer Doris Lessing, a serial offender who turned down an OBE in 1977 and didn’t wish to become a dame in 1993, because the title sounded ”too pantomimy”.

Today’s Telegraph publishes her further thoughts.

”I couldn’t be bothered,” she says. ”People make much too much fuss about all this. I didn’t want to be a dame because I thought it was silly.”

Fellow writer Michael Frayn believes that ”the entire population should be dukes, knights, dames or CBEs or whatever they would like to be”.

This would have the advantage of uniting the nation, but it is unlikely to work, given its emphasis on old-fashioned titles.

What we need is something that everyone can identify with – and former BBC political correspondent John Cole, as ever, has his finger on the pulse.

He tells the Guardian that ”Britain suffers dreadfully from an addiction to snobbery”.

Suffering and addiction. What better banner under which to march forward into the new millennium?’

Posted: 22nd, December 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink