Society Diary: A very bad hat and an even bigger explosion

01 Sep 2017 Voices

The curious case of the National Trust and its very bad, definitely not good hat

Another week has been filed away safely into the history books and, yeah, it’s September. How did that happen? It’s a great question, but this column already spent over 100 words being maudlin about the notion of time and lost youth last week. So, yeah, not again. Also, CSM towers is currently an active building site so coherent thoughts and eloquent prose are even harder to come by than usual.

This week in charity sector satire, a veritable smorgasbord of arguably ‘good’ stuff. A couple of people suffered non-life threatening injuries when a bomb they were trying to explode at an English Heritage re-enactment actually exploded, the National Trust continues to court controversy by steadfastly remaining the National Trust, and dogs truly make everything better, even massive 'rail improvement' works.

Local re-enactment display really bombs

Now, let’s start from the beginning here, with the elephant-shaped bomb-related injuries. How, Diary hears you ask, can this column take a light-hearted view of something when people have been hurt? It’s crass and borderline offensive, when two actual human beings are currently the both physical and no doubt mental trauma of having been caught in an actual bomb explosion.

Well, this is true but, to be fair, the BBC said that the two men suffered injuries “which are not thought to be life threatening” and, besides, they were World War II re-enactors demonstrating how to explode bombs. They likely knew what they were getting into.

Anyway, onwards! To Saffron Walden in Essex over the August bank holiday weekend just gone. English Heritage were holding a sort-of ‘World War II’ themed nostalgia-fest at Audley End House and attendees got far more action than they could have either expected or wanted.

What was supposed to be a controlled bomb demonstration went horribly, if somewhat amusingly, wrong and two men had to be taken to a nearby hospital after being injured by the device.

Attendees of the re-enactment obviously took to social media, with one user rather helpfully noting that “someone legit just got blown up” at the event. Which is, when you think about it, quite a succinct and helpful statement given the situation. Strong use of the word ‘legit’, despite the fact that they had more than enough available Twitter characters to go with ‘legitimate’.

In wording that Audley End House and, indeed, English Heritage have no doubt since come to regret, the weekend was billed as being “action-packed” and organisers advised crowds to “get ready to take cover as this explosive bank holiday weekend propels you into wartime Britain”. They added that spectators would be “blown away at the spectacle of the explosive wartime assault”.  Alas, they said nothing about those taking part.

Quite what the fellas involved were assaulting at the time of the accident remains unclear. However, it’s fair to say that English Heritage have clearly waged a one organisation assault on the basic tenants of workplace health and safety.

Hats off to the National Trust

Ah yes, the National Trust. That veritable institution that is, without too much hyperbole, an absolute gift to the charity sector satirist. In the last few weeks it’s had a fight with its own volunteers over badges supporting the LGBTQ community, been pilloried in every right-wing tabloid for tenant rent increases and tentatively tried to pull advertising from a website after it appeared alongside blogs and articles containing, heaven forefend!, swear words.

However, this week, the Independent has reported that the National Trust has “come under fire” after one of its properties was snapped selling “sexist hats for girls”.

Yes, one outraged parent snapped and posted a picture of a hat reportedly for sale at one of the Trust’s gift shop at Tatton Park estate in Cheshire. The hat, in a rather loathsome shade of pink, is emblazoned with the caption: ‘Future Footballers Wife’. The picture, posted by Twitter user Laura Goss, has since been picked up by a number of people who have criticised the hat and, by extension, the National Trust of everything from every day sexism to encouraging poor grammar.



Some of the response tweets from other members of the public are great. Diary’s particular favourite points out: “How about just ‘Future footballer?’ England women’s team wins more than the men” – too true.

Hats off, National Trust! No, seriously, take that hat off (the shelves).

Dogs make everything, even commuting, better

Finally, to London Waterloo station and seriously, what a nightmare August has been for any and everyone who uses one of the capital’s largest train stations to yeah, get from their work to their house and vice versa.

The more than £800m restoration works have meant that Waterloo station has effectively been in lock down for the best part of a month, causing untold pain and suffering for the hundreds of thousands of people who use it every week.

However, in a bid to at least take some of the agony away, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home sent two Jack Russell terrier – Mollie and Millie – out to the scene of the chaos to bring a little joy into commuter’s lives.

Not only did the pups really bring some much needed joy to the station, but they also helped raise awareness of the hundreds of animals at Battersea in desperate need of a new home.

Good to see Battersea taking the lead on relieving commuter stress. Something that Southern or South Western railways could surely pick up on but, you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks.


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