When my grandfather set off for World War II, he was a handsome young officer in his prime, the spitting image of Gregory Peck.
He returned a very different person, haunted by what he’d seen. Like countless others who fought to safeguard the freedom of this country, he never truly found peace again. He survived the bullets only to drink himself to death.
Were he alive today I wonder what he would make of his legacy — today’s generation of young people for whom he sacrificed his health, happiness and, ultimately, his sanity? Part of me is very glad he’s not. Because I fear he would think his efforts wasted.
Certainly, if young people like Andy Cuff are anything to go by.
Cuff, 22, is one of a group of sneering students who this weekend took it upon themselves to intimidate staff and customers at a Winston Churchill themed cafe in Finsbury Park, North London, describing anyone who supports the wartime Prime Minister as ‘narcissistic, self-conceited [a new phrase on me!], uneducated fascist scum’.
‘It is our duty to fight for freedom,’ they chanted. Ah, freedom. You already have freedom, dears. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there, with your stupid Citizen Smith berets and silly hashtags.
‘We’ve nothing to lose but our chains,’ bleated a fellow protester, Halimo Hussein, a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London. She more than anyone should have recognised the absurdity of this statement: her family are Somali refugees.
Thanks to what she terms Britain’s ‘colonialist oppression’, they were able to flee a country torn apart by civil war and ruled by Islamic militants who kill and torture their own people with impunity.
Of course, no one remotely expects people like Halimo to spend their lives saying thank you. But it might be nice if she hadn’t actively decided to dedicate her life to trashing the history of her adoptive country.
But this attitude is typical of so many young people now. People who see the world from a uniquely privileged perspective and who, instead of counting themselves as the luckiest generation in history, join the ranks of the perpetually peeved, seeking offence where it simply does not exist.
You see it everywhere, from gender politics to animal welfare. Take the poor trainee farmer from Northumberland who spoke out on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show about the abuse and death threats she has received from militant vegans.
Aside from the irony of people who profess to cherish all living things threatening to kill fellow humans, it’s a pattern of behaviour becoming all too familiar. Young people getting themselves in a terrible lather about things that don’t matter at all — while ignoring the things that really do.
Because let’s face it, mounting a protest against a Churchill-themed cafe or trolling some poor farmer is not exactly the stuff folk heroes are made of, is it? We’re not protesting against the Vietnam War here, or nuclear disarmament, pit closures or the poll tax.
Not THAT there aren’t plenty of worthwhile causes to espouse. To the protesters who took to the streets in Tehran recently, for example or those who dare challenge the likes of Putin, this behaviour would seem laughable if it weren’t so tragic. And insulting.
But then what do you expect from a generation that has never had to want for anything? Whose idea of injustice is a slow broadband speed, or an unripe avocado on their toast.
They really don’t know they’re born. Like the spoilt second or third- generation children of self-made men, they have no idea of the gargantuan efforts it took their ancestors to get here. Of the sacrifices made in order to give them a brighter future.
All they know how to do is squander the legacy and, through their ignorance and arrogance, insult the memory of far better men and women.
MPs are forced to attend compulsory sexual consent classes, I shall be urging my husband to hang up his hat rather than submit to such treatment. I cannot imagine anything more insulting for the vast majority of MPs who are perfectly capable of behaving themselves in the company of the opposite sex than being subjected to some sort of thought re-education process. And all for what?
To calm the shrill hysterics of a minority of women who, quite frankly, are becoming an embarrassment to their sex. BEYONCE, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian wave their breasts in everyone’s faces and it’s considered to be ‘empowering’.
Ordinary girls making a living from holding up signs in swimsuits at darts matches is ‘demeaning’ — or at least that’s what some TV broadcasters have decided in the wake of the Presidents Club scandal.
People, make up your mind: feminism is not a supermarket pick? As the next round of Brexit talks looms, the civil service Twitter feed releases this nugget: ‘Cabinet Office to draw up policies to support staff with caring responsibilities.’ So glad to see them getting their priorities right.
Those of us waking pasty-faced and frizzy-haired on the last day of the longest January in living memory (well, since last year) will take heart at the notion that it doesn’t all come naturally to the Duchess of Cambridge either, after her stylist Amanda Cook Tucker revealed the tools of her trade on social media.
Given 13 brushes, seven combs and three sets of curling tongs, not to mention the services of the redoubtable Cook Tucker, most women could look half-decent in the mornings, too.
I must confess I feel some sympathy for Blue Ivy, six-year-old daughter of rapper Jay-Z and Beyonce, caught on camera telling her parents to shush at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night. It’s bad enough to have been saddled with such a ridiculous name, but she also has to bear the ignominy of her mother leaving home wearing only half a dress.
Wouldn’t it be delicious if, instead of turning into just another car-crash celebrity brat, little Blue Ivy ended up becoming an accountant and voting Republican?
Just a few years ago, the idea that a woman like model Yasmin Le Bon, 53, would have even owned up to going through the menopause, let alone speak openly about how it has affected her physically and mentally would have seemed impossible. The fact that she can share her experiences without fear of being mocked or sidelined speaks volumes about how older women are now accepted.
And that is a message so much more powerful than any vapid hashtag or virtue-signalling awards speech. As Britain’s first feminist Princess-in-waiting, it follows that Meghan Markle should be planning to give a speech at her wedding. Personally, I cannot think of anything worse.
It’s stressful enough getting married without adding another cause for worry — and besides, when it comes to making a complete fool of oneself in front of a room of important people, surely that is a task only a man can adequately perform?
I agree with equal pay for women. But sometimes just winning the argument is enough. In the case of the BBC women — already earning higher than normal salaries — surely it would be better to draw a line under past mistakes and move on rather than cripple the Corporation with lawsuits and claims for backdated salaries?
– Daily Mail