Wednesday 5 August 2020

Knighthoods and bananas

When I saw the report a few days ago that the husband of the former PM was to be knighted, my brain initially read it as saying that he was benighted, leaving me wondering in what sense that statement could be considered newsworthy. Just as “man bites dog” is more newsworthy than “dog bites man”, so finding a Tory who isn’t benighted would surely make for a better headline. Clueless, ignorant, and uninformed are amongst the potential synonyms of benighted – if such were the criteria for getting a sword tap on the shoulder, an awful lot of benighted people could be beknighted as well.
In practice, the actual criteria for gaining a title of any sort are even less precise than that. Arbitrariness and prime ministerial whim are the main determinants, although making a large donation to the right political party has been known to influence the direction of that whim, as has a willingness to pay a large sum of money to lose a tennis match. Precisely why the whim rewarded Mr May in this instance is not wholly clear, but perhaps he did rather more than most had thought to persuade his wife to create the vacancy which the current PM went on to fill. It’s the sort of thing for which Johnson might feel almost as grateful as his predecessor. Alternatively, it could really be as simple as the citation suggests – he’s been knighted solely on the basis of choosing a particular woman as his wife 40 years ago. There is, though, a strange irony in making someone a Knight Bachelor for the way in which he ended his bachelorhood. As knighthoods go, it’s the lowest of the low, not like a proper membership of one of the orders of chivalry (although, following the same logic, perhaps they are to be reserved exclusively in future for those who aren’t particularly chivalrous).
In the monarchy of imaginary bananas which the UK is rapidly becoming (like a banana republic, only with a hereditary head of state and a distinct lack of bananas), showering titles on supporters and friends on the flimsiest of excuses is probably only to be expected. Titles help to keep those who are thus entitled (in both senses) happy. And I suppose that it’s far less harmful than some of the things in which the PM could be otherwise engaged. Such as repeating his demands that the imaginary bananas be properly bent, for instance.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Frankly I'm amazed that Mrs May hasn't been elevated to Baroness Weak and Wobbly, or Soft and Silly might be better. I wonder whether she might have been offered but declined to remain on the backbenches so she can help with the internal coup that will boot Boris and chums out of office when all those clusterfucks he and his daft mob have engineered will inevitably reach their climax(no pun or metaphor!).

I just can't see how this rabble can do another 4 years and 3 months and there will be a round of acrimonious distancing long before then. I suspect that Remainers and other Tory cliques not comfortable with Boris' style(can I have another more appropriate word for bouncing from pillar to post?)will make some kind of common cause to remove him and others.