Tag Archives: being offended

Tis the season (to be offended)

full of people

You can tell it’s winter, there’s a chill in the air. It’s so cold that two brass monkeys knocked on our workshop door and asked if I did any brazing. In fact it was so cold that several ‘newspapers’ stopped printing pictures of topless models because it couldn’t find any girls willing to take their clothes off. OK so perhaps not quite but you get the idea.

Today I was out looking sheep and it was a bit on the cool side. There’s still grass for them, and when Sal and I went into a field, each bunch would glance at Sal and pattern recognition would immediately take over.

Teeth?   Snap

Teeth mounted in long muzzle?   Snap

Ears, two, cocked up?     Snap

Is it watching us?     Watching us, it’s never taken its damned eyes off us!

With this the sheep begin to move away, forming a defensive huddle and then turn and stare accusingly at their potential tormentor.

But today was different. You see, because it’s cold, we’ve got the fire lit. (Just don’t even think of trying to get central heating into our house). So of course I’m recycling wood as heat. And whilst looking sheep I’ll take a bag with me and any suitable bits of wood will be dropped in it for burning. And as I walked across the field, I moved the bag from one shoulder to the other. This produced the distinctive sound of a cake bag being moved. Within seconds the sheep that had formed the huddle fifty yards away were running towards us. Sal, her teeth, ears and whatever was totally ignored, it was winter and here was man with a feed bag. It had to be lunch time.

They were sadly disappointed but still, winter is drawing on and sooner or later we’ll have to start giving them supplementary feed.

But I quite like this season. It’s November so obviously it must be Christmas. According to some enthusiasts Christmas now starts on the afternoon of Remembrance Sunday! But along with Christmas we get those who demand that we don’t wish them merry Christmas, and those who remand that we only wish them merry Christmas, and a score of shades of opinion in between.

Indeed, tis the season to be offended. And this year, we’ve got a real gem here in little old England.

The Church of England produced a short advert, people saying the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve heard it but never seen it, and it lasts a full sixty seconds. This was to be shown in cinemas. Except that Digital Cinema Media (DCM), which handles adverts in all the big cinema chains, has refused to allow it to be screened.

DCM has told the Church that this advert risked “upsetting or offending audiences.” Further more (and doubtless with much pious finger wagging on DCM’s part,) it has pointed to its policy document. This bars commercials that advertised “any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief” or “any part” of any such religion or faith.

So that’s perfectly clear then.

Except email correspondence between the Church and DCM which has been released to the media shows that in July a member of the company’s sales team offered the Church a 55% discount if they signed a deal for the ad campaign. What the blue blazes did they think the Church of England was going to advertise? Car sales? Sofas? Time share holidays? You really would have thought that the clue was in the name, ‘Church of England.’ Call me old fashioned but I’d have suspected they were a religious organisation with a name like that.

So at the moment matters might well rest in the hands of lawyers. The problem is, DCM is going to be awfully short of adverts this December. After all they cannot mention Christmas (or any part of any such religion or faith), or the solstice, or have Christmas carols in an advert sound track, or pictures of yule logs, holly and ivy (because paganism is a religion too you know and they might also be offended.)

As far as I can work out, those advertising with DCM are restricted to wishing viewers, “A festive mid-winter commercial festival”.

Anyway I’m quite enjoying this one. I do rather like it when the ‘oh so correct’ brigade end up wiggling on the skewer they’ve managed to hurl themselves onto.

But it struck me that I am failing in my duties. Christmas is coming. I notice that there are not many who are mean enough to use lack of belief as an excuse for not giving presents. In my more cynical moments I suspect there is an even smaller group who use their lack of belief as a reason for not receiving them.

But still, when you’re buying presents, I have paperbacks available. These are the perfect present to give if you wish to offend anybody with no sense of humour, no imagination, and a far too precious regard for the sanctity of great literature.

Go on, you know you want to. Available from all good on-line book shops and you can order them from real bookshops as well. Or you could just buy them for yourself and ensure you do have a good Christmas. (Or insert any other festival/non-festival of choice here)

four books





It’s not what you do that counts; it’s what you’re offended by that matters

Funny old world isn’t it. Win a Nobel Prize for, “Discovering a key aspect of cell cycle control, the protein cyclin which is a component of cyclin dependent kinases, demonstrating his ability to grasp the significance of the result outside his immediate sphere of interest” and all anybody ever remembers is that you aren’t cutting edge cool and politically correct.

full of people

I’ll tell you a story. Back in 1972 they put on a special excursion train to take people from up here to see the Tutankhamen exhibition in the British Museum. It was a huge train, and it was the old style coaches with the six seat compartments and a corridor down one side.

My mother took my sister and I. I don’t remember much of the journey down, the exhibition itself I do remember something of. It was certainly spectacular enough to leave memories which have stuck with me.

But coming home I have another memory.

In ‘our’ compartment there was my mother, my sister and myself sitting on one seat, and facing us was a father and his two children. Both adults were similar age, both born in the 1920s. There was a little polite small talk, but frankly I think everybody was tired by then. Anyway it was summer, a hot day and the compartment was hot. So the gentleman opposite would do the sensible thing and take off his jacket and tie. But before he did so, he first asked my mother’s permission.

Because back then, that’s what you did. It was a sign of good manners.

Indeed I was brought up to stand up when a ‘lady’ entered the room, and I was also brought up to believe that ‘lady’ included school dinner ladies as much as it included teachers or friends of my mother.

Now Tim Hunt is older than me. In 1972 he’s have been 28. He’d have been the generation that was taught that you asked a lady present for permission before taking your jacket off.

Since then, he’s been working for a living, he’s had a life. He’s achieved stuff that most of us can barely understand. So perhaps he’s missed out on a few pointers as to current trending social etiquette.

I sympathise with him. Keep your mouth shut and those desperate to be offended will have to get their kicks out of attacking somebody else.

I suppose there’s always a chance they might be offended by this. If so then I suppose I ought to include a link to one of my books, that way they can show their offence by buying a copy and burning it publically.

Even better I could leave a link to one of the ebooks, so anyone offended can download a copy more cheaply, print if off at work so it costs them nothing in paper and ink, and then burn it. You cannot say I don’t try to be accommodating.

But one real consolation is that in forty years time, when fashions have changed at least twice, those doing the pillorying now are going to be so embarrassed by how out of touch they were back in the second decade of the twenty-first century.