I bought a pristine copy of ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck’ in a junk shop for fifty cents the other day. No great grandchildren in the offing to receive it, but rather on account of the nostalgia I felt at the very words Jemima Puddle Duck.
I was given a copy of this classic on my eighth birthday, and mightily disappointed I was too, by the waste of a birthday present.
Having read ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in my grandmother’s original edition, published in 1719, having given up on ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ in another original edition, when I got to the unbearably depressing engraving of the Slough of Despond, and having wept over ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, and become an abolitionist on the spot, Jemima Puddle Duck was small beer.
But I do remember when I rather contemptuously read it, my feelings of alarm when Jemima encountered the polite gentleman with a bushy tail and sandy whiskers. In today’s parlance I was ‘triggered’, and quite anxious until I reached the happy ending and violent demise of said sandy whiskered gentleman. Oh dear, violence too… Beatrix Potter is obviously on the slippery downward slope to becoming cancelled -violence and cruelty to animals being very good reasons for Beatrix to go on the Index ( the list of banned books by the Vatican, but in this case, banned by the guardians of our thoughts and minds – the virtue signalling woke brigade.)
I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction.
But I Am surprised that ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ hasn’t received a trigger notice yet – however virtuous the subject- as it contains a great deal of violence which might upset snowflakes.
If Browning and Wordsworth – the latest culprits – can be cancelled, I’m just waiting for Shakespeare to go on the index too, as he qualifies for it over and over again – sexism or violence in just about every comedy or tragedy I can think of…
I read that Hollywood is not prepared to film any plot line that doesn’t cover diversity and inclusion, and any other popular buzz word at at the moment… (sigh)… so no more corny re-makes of ‘War and Peace’, or ‘The Dambusters’, all populated by macho white men, and not a coloured person in sight, just macho men and violence the backbone of ‘The Dambusters, … and class, snobbery, materialism, and conspicuous consumption as well as violence, the themes of Tolstoy’s masterpiece. Trips down memory lane to ‘The Red Shoes’, the story of art versus true love, a giggle over ‘Some Like it Hot’ .feeling guilty about laughing at cross dressing, and no more fun with Georgette Heyer, and her regency frolics, no diversity, no poverty, but lots of gorgeous men with money and poor girls who marry them…..are these all verboten in this new age of compulsory virtue and righteousness?
‘Zulu’ comes up to scratch on the diversity scale, but the violence, and defeat of the natives/ tribes/ noble indigenous fighters – not sure what description is acceptable these days – might not go down well with BLM, and the on- the- edge- of -your seat- violence, would probably cause snowflakes to have a conniption.
‘Cry, the Beloved Country,’ one of the most powerful novels about apartheid ever published, triggered such buckets of tears from me, that it must be a candidate for being plastered with trigger warnings, while I fear for that magnificent novel ‘Middlemarch’, by George Eliot and indeed, for all her books, for they contain no diversity at all – nineteenth English society being a fairly mono-cultural one, and therefore diversity an unknown concept.
Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.
Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..
Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution.
For every righteous campaigner against Western racism and slavery, there are few who dare to point out the horrors of the slavery as practiced by the Barbary Pirates of the North African coast for three or more centuries, when they rampaged along the shores of nearly every country in Europe from Iceland and Cornwall, to Italy and Greece. These merciless pirates captured white men and women from sea-side villages far beyond the Mediterranean.
Spanish writer Cervantes was the most famous of all, only being ransomed after five years when his family was finally able to raise the money. At least million and a quarter were enslaved to work as galley slaves or in other brutal activities. Ethiopia only closed down the slave trade in the mid nineteen thirties, and a huge slave trade of Nubians and Abyssinans from the Upper Nile had sustained the Egyptian economy for centuries until the nineteenth century.
Yet no-one seems to have been cancelled in any of these places, or had their memorial destroyed – maybe, because those slave traders hadn’t also been benefactors of their societies by endowing schools, hospitals, universities, libraries and orphanages, along with the other benefits, that so many cancelled historical figures in Britain’s history did. ( And those who so righteously condemn Britain for the slave trade, forget that she was one among many at that time, and was also the first nation to abolish it, spending large sums of money and several thousand British sailors lives, maintaining a naval squadron to patrol the seas for sixty years, intercepting slave ships, and freeing the slaves.)
Will the Thought Police cancel our favourite classical composer, the mainstay of British musical life – the magnificent Handel, who even the wonderful Beethoven acknowledged as the greatest composer who ever lived. Handel, who had no family, put his money into the shares of the infamous Royal African Company, the main British trading organisation which was formed as early as 1660.
So I fear for Handel , as I do for Jane Austen – no diversity, but worse still, in Mansfield Park the whole plot hinges on the paterfamilias being absent looking after his estates /plantations in Antigua, a sugar producing slave working island. Jane Austen’s novels of course, were bereft of diversity, gender re-assessments, abolitionist sentiments, or of any redeeming woke features.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do. An example of this was the boycotting by staff of every publisher of a book by an American expert who had reservations about the exploding numbers of teenagers having re-assignment surgery in the States. She couldn’t get her book published.
Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.
It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying.
Therapists say it’s important to call out the attacker if we feel we’re being gaslighted. It’s just as important to do the same to those who would undermine our inheritance of books and poetry, our literature, and history, our precious customs, and even our favourite books. If Black Beauty gets a trigger warning, which for a number of woke reasons, I think is due, I shall despair. It’s books such as these, which educate us and civilize us, and in this case has taught generations that other species matter, which are irreplaceable.
These are the sort of books which teach us to be better humans, as did Beatrix Potter’s legacy of sympathy for animals, and her legacy of love which so many share, for delicious little Mrs Tiggywinkle and Peter Rabbit, and slightly simple Jemima Puddleduck who longed to hatch her eggs before they were taken away for eating.
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
I wanted a quick meal for one, but I ached for something delicious. This was it. Pour a cup of cream into a frying pan, and grate a good handful of parmesan cheese into it. Chop smoked salmon finely, add to the cream, and boil them all up together.At the same time pour boiling water onto two minute noodles.
When noodles are cooked and drained, pour the salmon and bubbling cream over the noodles, grate more parmesan and some black pepper over and eat !
Food for Thought
“One man with courage is a majority.” —Thomas Jefferson Founding Father, philosopher and lawyer, diplomat and architect. A superb portrait of both he and his fellow Founding Fathers is the TV series called ‘John Adams’, a magnificent account of the American Revolution and creation of the US.