Monday, 29 July 2013

Arise, Sir Wotsit

There have been suggestions recently that Michael and Carole Middleton should be elevated to the peerage.

(If, by chance, you have been living on a desert island or a distant planet for the last week, I will tell you that Mr and Mrs Middleton are the maternal grandparents of the baby who is third in line to the English throne, the new Prince George of Cambridge.)

I have no reason to suppose that Mr and Mrs M are anything other than perfectly decent, honourable people.  But what have they done to deserve such a signal honour?  Other, that is, than having a daughter who caught the eye of a Prince?  Not that it would be any skin off my nose if they were to be made the Earl and Countess of Somewhere-or-Other.

Come to think of it, plenty of folk have been honoured for less.  Indeed, the whole system of honours probably came about because some men were stronger and tougher than others from whom they stole land, castles - kingdoms even.  And even now there are plenty of people who receive honours just for doing their jobs.

The honours system in this country is rather quaint.  Apart from the peerage - the viscounts, baronets, barons, lords, earls and dukes and so on - there are a number of orders of chivalry, eight in fact.  There are the Orders of the Garter, the Thistle, the Bath, St Michael and St George, the British Empire and the Royal Victorian Order, plus Companions of Honour and the Order of Merit.

Several of those orders have within them, different ranks or classes; Members, Officers, Knight (or Dame) Companions or Commanders, Knight (or Dame) Grand Crosses and so on..

The one we hear of the most is the Order of the British Empire. I have to admit that I get a little hot under the collar when I hear of some of the people who are made Members or Officers of the Order of the British Empire.   Too often this honour seems to be awarded to people simply for doing their jobs.  Actors, sportsmen, lollipop ladies.  Just because they are particularly good at what they do does not seem to me to be sufficient reason for honouring them and it diminishes the honour for those who have done something extra, something of value to the country or the local community.  That's what honours should be for.  As an aside, I might add that my father declined the offer of being made an MBE.  Three such honours were to be awarded to members of the crew of the ship on which he was then serving and it was suggested he should be one of the three.  His view, like mine, was that simply tossing out awards like a handful of sweets tossed into a crowd of children was demeaning and devalued the award.

So, an honour for Mr Middleton?  Frankly, it would make no difference to me one way or the other, but has he done something to deserve it?  Not as far as I am aware.


The weather broke at the weekend in this part of the world, though I believe it broke earlier in the week "oop north" - just as the children's long school holidays started!  It is considerably cooler and I have wanted a thin jacket when walking the dog after breakfast.  This morning we walked across 39 Acres to a spot where I knew wild raspberries are growing.  Sod's Law was inoperative, rather to my surprise, and although somebody had been there over the weekend, I was still able to pick a few ripe ones.  They amounted to only a couple of ounces or so but will add a delightful flavour to a dessert today or tomorrow.

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