Late Life Crisis - October 2019

Kanye West has apparently discovered God. Would it be mean to suggest that probably his publicist got there slightly before him?

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I warble from time to time about the virtues of random acts of kindness, where you help a stranger in a small way. At Holborn station I carried an older woman's case up some steps for her. As she took her case back, she said "God bless you". I have no religious belief these days, but there was something touching about this.

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A rough sleeper finds the answer to getting personal space on the tube: just sit at the end of a carriage and the other passengers will move at least half a carriage away to escape the smell. Another one: the sight of a Big Issue seller berating a chugger for standing in the Big Issue seller's territory, the latter clearly having a keen sense of marketing and footfall.

One or other or both of those observations might have generated a small smile. But would that reaction be appropriate in today's politically correct times? Might the observations be considered discriminatory against rough sleepers? Was there in the second story unconscious bias through maybe assuming thet the Big Issue seller was a rough sleeper? Many barbs today are attempted to be excused on the grounds that the comments were a joke/light-hearted etc. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know where to draw the line.

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As I write, political gaffes have come into their own, and the Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly may have regretted his birth name as he did the media rounds to try and excuse some howlers from his Party. However, the one from Jacob Rees-Mogg - smooth, cultured and unerringly polite - is worth recording for posterity. Talking of the Grenfell Tower fire on LBC, he said to his interviewer: "I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building." In his later apology, he said (to the Evening Standard): "What I meant to say is that I would have also listened to the fire brigade's advice to stay and wait at the time. However, with what we know now and with hindsight I wouldn't and I don't think anyone else would".

The apology is even worse than the original insult. In a burst of tortuous, disingenuous hypothetics, Rees-Mogg postulated a situation that he wasn't in and where his preferred course of action depended on the hindsight that he would not have had at the time. In this incident the mask of good manners slipped to reveal the arrogant, patronising visage underneath.

 

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