Society Diary: Angry sailors, concerned vegans and a guilty aristocrat

26 Apr 2019 Voices

A boat formerly known as "she"

It’s Friday once again, dear readers! Another four-day week draws to a close. Firstly, to address a rumour that’s been floating around over the past few days - Society Diary can confirm that its mother was once a contestant on the Eurovision song contest. While this may put some of you off from paying any further attention to Diary’s satirical musings, for those of you readers who are undeterred by Diary’s star-studded ancestry, please read on.

Sailors against political correctness

Diary’s subscription to the Telegraph is certainly good value for money. This week it informed us that a charity was insulting “generations of sailors”. That’s quite a lot of sailors Diary thought, and obviously read on.

The Telegraph was of course quoting Admiral Lord Alan West, former First Sea Lord. He had called the BBC to express his horror that the Scottish Maritime Museum has, in response to vandals objecting to boats being referring to as ‘shes’, changed its naming policy to refer to boats as ‘its’.

Well they are inanimate objects after all. But Lord West said the move was “stark staring bonkers” and a “sort of insult to generations of sailors. The ships are seen almost as a mother to preserve us from the dangers of the sea and also from the violence of the enemy. To change it in this trite fashion is just absolutely stupid”.

The story has actually been reported in an astonishing number of places as editors flock to talk about something other than the climate emergency, poverty, Brexit, and so on. But the Telegraph went one step further and followed up with an opinion piece by Lord West. 

He explains that ships are in fact ‘shes’ because they are both “like a mother, holding us and keeping us safe from storms”  but also “a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that she’s often like a lover”. 

And there was Diary thinking there was something a tad creepy about the tradition.

Lord Oedipus concludes with this rallying cry: “It’s about time that those in charge of our institutions realised that they cannot let a vocal minority of right-on fools, often utilising the power of social media, push the rest of us around. Our history and traditions cannot be held hostage by people who choose to be perennially offended.”

Ignore the perennially offended says man outraged by an inanimate object being called ‘it’.

In Diary’s humble view, if in a bid to slightly modify your charity’s language to appear less sexist and join the 21st century, you have inadvertently angered a Lord and the Telegraph, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. 

Diary would humbly suggest that Lord West visit the Manchester Art Gallery, where some of the galleries have alternative feminist descriptors for the paintings. They’re witty and enlightening, especially helpful if you’re having a hard time getting your head around the fact that for the past few hundred years or so society has been mainly catered to the needs of men.

Taste of their own

It is not sailors that have been upset by linguistic changes this week – vegans are angry too!

Diary’s regular readers may remember a few months back when Peta caused a stir by suggesting that popular meat-based phrases such as “bringing home the bacon” are replaced by vegan alternatives such as “bringing home the bagels”.

Well now the European Union has proposed that vegan and vegetarian burgers and sausages should be renamed “discs” and “tubes” to protect the meat industry.

In response, the Vegan Society charity has expressed concern that this could lead to confusion for consumers.

That’s right, reader, the shoe is on the other foot now! For once the poor downtrodden meat-eater is in the ascendancy, having suffered years of persecution from the vegetable lovers. See how they like a taste of their own vegan medicine!

Diary thinks the EU’s proposals might be more palatable if the alternative names sounded more mouth-watering. “Discs” and “tubes” sound more like prosthetics than food. Maybe “patties” or “bites” would work. “Vegan cylinders” would at least be more accurate when describing sausages. Even a burger is a very flat type of cylinder.

Perhaps this is the last straw in the UK’s Brexit saga. Vegan Remainers will be turned by the EU’s meat-loving demands and will now back a Vegan Brexit, a Vegzit if you will.

Trigger sad

And finally, feast your eyes on this extravagant donor.

Eccentric aristocrat Sir Benjamin Slade was in the news this week after deciding to ship 50 oak trees from his 2,000-acre estate in Somerset to Paris to help rebuild the Notre Dame.

The gift is clearly practical but it is also break with tradition. Shipping magnate Sir Ben was moved to donate his trees because his ancestor Sir Thomas Slade used English oak to design Nelson’s ship HMS Victory which beat Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

According to a spokesman for the 72-year-old, when once asked by an American visitor to his estate what his family’s main line of business over the centuries had been, the aristocrat replied “mainly killing the French”.

This is not the first time Sir Ben has made the headlines.

Last year, he publicised his search for a wife to provide him with two sons. His requirements for the perfect “breeder” stated she should be no taller than 5ft 6ins, aged 30 to 40, possess a gun licence and be “castle trained”.

If that sounds like you, reader, Diary would like to draw your attention to Sir Ben’s choice of media photos, most of which involve him being surrounded by guns and dogs.

Sir Ben is clearly trying to get across the fact that his two favourite past times are collecting vintage weaponry and walking his adorable pooches. But Diary can’t help thinking that he looks like he’s about to shoot those dogs, and with a big smile on his face.

His decision to be pictured with a gun in each arm is particularly bold, given the fact that he was charged in 2012 for possessing a firearm without a certificate and leaving a shotgun unsecured. After having his house raided by police, Sir Ben said he used the shotgun to shoot at foxes from his bedroom window.

Ah, the good life.


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