Protesters and Mr Punch

Six years ago today, I arrived in Chinde, one of the oldest towns in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of my walk down the Zambezi. It was obviously a special moment but I can remember feeling curiously flat at the time. I had become the first person in recorded history to walk the length of that mighty river – 3200 kilometres – but I just didn’t know how to better that particular feat.

The trouble is that I still don’t and as the years go on, my battered body keeps telling me that it has had enough. Am I to endure a sedentary dotage I wonder?

Ah well…!

The nutcases were out in force again this weekend with Extinction Rebellion causing all sorts of mayhem. Home Secretary Priti Patel is threatening to proscribe the organisation as a criminal group in order that tougher sentences can be handed out, but to my mind, that will make the protesters think of themselves as Martyrs for the cause.

There are plenty of laws already in place and all we need is for the police to actually enforce them and the Courts to back them up. Why are these ill-informed fanatics being allowed to mess up the lives of innocent people in any case? I suppose some of them feel that they are justified in their protests, but as far as I can see, the majority of the ringleaders are comfortably off, middle class people who have nothing better to do and the government are making them feel ever more important and justified in their actions.

It is not so long ago, that their ‘leader’ the precocious Greta Thunberg was haranguing the United Nations and being lauded by Michael Gove and a few other British politicians when in fact, the rubbish she spouts has little bearing on reality. Yes there are a few things that people can do to cut down the damage being done to the world – get rid of plastic for example – but in general, progress is progress and even if we don’t like what is happening – and I certainly do not – we must surely appreciate the fact that life is far more comfortable for us all than it was for our forefathers and their fathers before them.

Another prominent and vocal nutcase would seem to be the lady in charge of the British Library. Chief librarian Liz Jolly leaves Auntie BBC standing when it comes to spouting patronising tommytwaddle.

Jolly, who manages the collection at the UK’s national library (our library damnit, not hers) is supporting changes to displays and collections in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Around two hundred library employees have signed a letter declaring a racial ‘state of emergency’ in the library. It seems that the library building to start with was designed to resemble a battleship – ‘an imperialist symbol.’

What a load of pathetic nonsense! Most countries with a coastline have navies, and battleships. The Royal Navy had a big hand to play fairly recently in freeing the Falkland Islands from a fascist invader.

A few decades before that, they were decidedly useful in defeating Nazi Germany during the Battle of the Atlantic. Oh, and didn’t Britain use her battleships to close down the international slave trade after the UK led the world in abolishing that evil?

Other items causing concern to the worthy and very woke Ms Jolly are busts of Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Why? Because ‘they are part and parcel of Western civilizational supremacy.’

What on earth does that mean damnit?! I would have thought librarians needed a decent grasp of the English language but that really is woffle of the lowest order.

Even a portrait of Mr Punch is marked down for the skip; some staff believe he is ‘a figure from the heyday of Victorian imperialism who entertained through abuse that mirrored colonial violence.’

I could be wrong but I was always led to believe that Punch originated in 16th century Italy as the Neapolitan ‘Pulcinella’ and has absolutely nothing to do with anything colonial.

Please will someone free me from these pathetic zealots in high places.

I have spent a fairly substantial chunk of my life in or near Stroud in Gloucestershire. It is where one of the two founders of Extinction Rebellion come from and has always been known for its vegans, poets, scribblers and general cranks, most of whom are quite harmless.

I could not help smiling last week though when I read about a salon owner in that fair town who tried to advertise for an assistant through the local job centre. Her advertisement was rejected because she specifically asked for a ‘happy’ person to apply.

That it seems would only offend unhappy people.

Once again, I can only quote my friend Mfanasibili Nkosi – ‘Nuff said.’

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