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Emblems of honour ?

Posted by Big John on June 22, 2007

The ridiculous British honours system is in the news again this week due to a ladies underwear designer ‘getting his knickers in a twist’ over being awarded an MBE.

Joseph Corre has rejected his ‘gong’ on the grounds that he had…   “been chosen by an organisation headed by a Prime Minister who I find morally corrupt”.

Well good for him, for now he joins the likes of actors Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Kenneth Branagh, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Honor Blackman, the writer Michael Frayn, , the singer David Bowie, the composer Benjamin Britten and the artist L. S. Lowry who turned down the lot … knighthood … OBE and CBE.

In 1969, John Lennon returned his MBE in protest over a number of things including the Vietnam war, and in 2003, the poet Benjamin Zephaniah publicly rejected an OBE from ‘er Maj’ to protest against the war in Iraq and other British policies. 

According to press reports this week, the author Salman Rushdie was given his knighthood … ‘by public demand’ … What public ? … I doubt if many of the public have ever picked up one of his books, and if they had I’m bloody sure that they never finished it.

A few years ago the writer J. G. Ballard rejected the chance to become a CBE, and said at the time that he opposed the “preposterous charade” of the honours system … Blimey! he should see it now.

Tony Blair, who loves to hand out honours to overpaid sports ‘heroes’, dodgy businessmen and ancient pop singers, announced this week that another group of people were to be ‘honoured’…  The Bevin Boys …  the 50,000 or so young men who were conscripted to work in the coal mines during the latter stages of the Second World War.

They were named after Labour MP Ernie Bevin, Minister for Labour and National Service, and suffered more hardship and were in greater danger than many of their fellow conscripts who were in the armed forces; but unlike their comrades in uniform they did not qualify for any medals at the end of the war.

So what is our Tone going to give the surviving few thousand after more than sixty years ? … A small lapel pin !

My father, although a civilian, was belatedly awarded The Defence Medal for his service in the Fire Guard during the years that London was under attack from the Luftwaffe, and it is said that …

“… it was not unusual to find a man with several stars (campaign medals) who had never heard a shot fired in anger. Conversely, a man with only the Defence Medal who earned it, for example, whilst serving in the fire or rescue services in London or any other city subject to constant air attack, wears a medal worth having …. only the man who wears the medal knows how it was earned“.

I certainly think that those young miners ‘earned’ more than …

…      a bloody little badge !   


9 Responses to “Emblems of honour ?”

  1. Chris said

    They should get rid of all those honours for footballers, actors, authors and so on. Most celebrities get plenty of money and recognition, and their ‘work’ ought to be its own reward, just the same as charity campaigners like Bono and Geldof. The honours system has become so cheapened in recent years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started giving OBEs to bloomin’ bloggers next!

    Mind you, if you want an honour these days, all you have to do is bung a few grand into the party coffers. So what do you fancy then, John? A knighthood?

    By the way, one thing’s been puzzling me: ‘OBE’ stands for ‘Order of the British Empire’, doesn’t it?

    Er…what empire???

  2. Betty said

    I tried to read Salman Rushdie’s first book and couldn’t stand it. It was just silly, I thought.

  3. Big John said

    I’ll settle for an MBE Chris … ‘Master Blogger Exceptional’. 🙂

  4. gawilli said

    Giving the Bevin Boys an award at this point does seem like too little, too late. Sadly it is the way we go when we ride the backs of those unable to decline, which quite often is done by those giving out the awards.

  5. Maria said

    I wondered when I heard about the award for Rushdie. It didn’t seem to make much sense except to inflame a number of terrorists lurking around the sidelines.

  6. Jackshian said

    ‘Sir Salman’? .. well why not? .. we already have Sir Elton, Sir Mick, and Sir Tom, so its a pretty meaningless honour these days anyway (bloody hell we nearly had Sir David Beckham).

    I also think that those young miners earned more than a ‘bloody little badge’ but then I doubt they donated to the political party in power.

  7. Terri said

    Boy, you have that right on Rushdie’s books….I tried, but it wasn’t worth the painful effort.
    And if you can figure out how ole Tony can take Bush with him, please let my country know! Sounds like a grand plan to me.

  8. Freda said

    I always intend to read “worthy” books, but cannot seem to stick at it. So I join the ranks of tried but failed where Rushdie is concerned.

  9. Red Baron said

    My Grandad, and Great Uncles fought in the war because not to have done so would have resulted in Great Grandad being interned for being a German. When you think about the standards people used to have for family and honour etc. makes you see the idiots who trot forth these days who’ve done nothing more than grease a palm, kiss an arse in a different light, well ok maybe not a different light but puts the feckers into perspective doesn’t it?

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