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I’m in the middle of a culture war – but I don’t know which side I’m on

I’m in the middle of a culture war – but I don’t know which side I’m on
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Woke division is being stoked by the Labour Party. McCarthyism is rife among the Conservatives. Polarisation is renting our political class asunder.

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But far, far worse than that, the culture wars have reached my kitchen table and (whisper it) I’m not entirely certain which side I’m on.

This week the battle is over hearts, minds, transgender sleeping rights at boarding school and disputed Ghanaian gold most of us had no idea we owned.

Having seen the pieces in all their magnificence, I really wish I had known. In fact, I feel quite piqued they’re being sent back to Ghana; it wasn’t as if they were on display inside a world-class museum that was free to visit or anything.

They were? Whatever. Go fetch the bubblewrap. On this my husband and I agree. The Elgin Marbles are trickier, not least because he flinches when I say it and pointedly refers to them thereafter as the Parthenon Marbles. Uh-oh.

I have no strong opinion. Apparently this (and calling them the Elgin Marbles, obviously) is the problem.

When my husband goes to see them for an hour or five, he is very disappointed that most people just wander in and shamble off again. They have no understanding and don’t deserve nice things.

The Greeks do. Also, if they bring them home they can reunite them with the other broken bits and visitors from the UK might finally grasp their significance. 

As I routinely wear high-street dupes of designer brands, I’m quite content to make do with that (almost) indistinguishable robot-carved replica of the Marbles.

Next up, the incendiary news that trans pupils at Britain’s more progressive boarding schools can use the dorm that aligns with their gender identity; in other words, biological boys can sleep in the girls’ dorm. As the mother of two daughters, I surprise myself by not minding because I know they wouldn’t.

Besides, it’s great big manipulative manspreaders in badly applied lipstick sharing the changing rooms in the swimming pool that worry me, not lost teenage souls in existential crisis.

Yet the father of two daughters, my card-carrying leftie husband, unhesitatingly says an unequivocal no to transgender sleepovers.

Back to basics now and the future of postal deliveries on a Saturday. He won’t countenance it. As long as my Amazon Prime orders keep coming, four days of haphazard snail mail will do me fine.

Should Rule, Britannia! be banned from Last Night of the Proms? I think not, it’s a traditional tune the crowd loves. My spouse wants to ban the “outdated” Last Night in its “jingoistic, flag-waving” entirety.

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Mind you, he went to see Elektra at the Royal Opera House this week and I’m off to an am-dram production of a Tom Stoppard, so maybe that figures. 

Either way, it’s nice to get a break from all those decisions we are forced to make before we’ve had our first coffee: should the MoD recruit soldiers with tattoos to solve the recruitment crisis? Both of us say yes. 

What about those with asthma? Um, no? Are they having a laugh? Oh wait, there’s another dilemma: do we consider it discriminatory to prevent brave men and women with hay fever from entering the theatre of war? No, we may not consult Wikipedia first. That’s a big, fat (-shaming) no. 

Closer to home, AI technology at supermarket checkouts is to scan our faces, ensuring we can legally buy alcohol. My other half is delighted he can get his reasonably priced Primitivo home quicker. I feel crestfallen I will no longer be able to have my usual age-related cackle with the sales assistant. Will she even keep her job? 

In its retrospective defence, at least political correctness was clearly defined. It was everything Ben Elton believed.

By contrast, jiggery-wokery is everywhere. It’s also very complicated indeed, as Sir Keir Starmer found this week after accusing the Government of mounting a modern-day woke-hunt of institutions like the National Trust.

I’m one of five million members of the National Trust and I’m in two minds about where it’s heading; yes the public should be educated about the grand houses built on the wealth of the iniquitous slave trade. But no they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty.

I’m all for equality. But the passive-aggressive approach to celebrating minorities at the expense of the majority is grating to say the least.

Last November an “inclusion and wellbeing” calendar was provided for volunteers. It included Diwali, Eid and Ramadan, but not Christmas or Easter, in a bid to “serve local communities and allow everyone to learn about and enjoy different cultures”.

And there was I thinking the NT was about preserving our history, heritage and natural beauty. This will probably be construed as racist, because the most pernicious aspect of wokery – and its opposite – is the crushingly simplistic all-or-nothing, with-us-or-against-us ideology that makes a mockery of nuance and common sense.

Not everything is black and white. That’s why I can’t – won’t – align myself with Right or Left in this regard. At Woods Towers, we make our own minds up – and believe me when I say diversity has its limits and asthmatic soldiers will never win a war.

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Not even a cultural one.



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