“Well, there used to be a bloke called Peg who had a wooden leg. He used to set himself on fire and then jump into the Lido to put it out”
“What would Health and Safety think of that?”
“They don’t let you do anything these days.”
It was announced at the beginning of the week that Catherine Walker had died. She was a very successful fashion designer but differed from many others in her field by shunning the limelight and not doing runway shows.
She was, however, famous for one thing that interested a certain section of our press. She provided frocks for Princess Diana.
How did they mark the passing of this talented designer, successful business woman and founder of a Cancer Charity?
Well, to be honest, most of them were pretty good about it. A short story on an inside page that played up the Diana connection. The Times had it on the front page with an accompanying photograph of Diana that at least Catherine Walker was in,
Not so the Express.
Really that is just a little bit rude. Covering the death of someone on the front page and then having a picture of someone else.
Friday the 1st of October saw the introduction of the much hated (by the Mail, Express and Church Groups, people who really know about bigotry) Equality Act.
The act aims to provide protection for workers by banning discrimination by employers and covering areas such as age, disability and pay. It brings together 9 different bits of legislation into one easy to follow act.
Ah, Britain moves, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. No one can be discriminated against in the workplace on ground of Race, religion, sexual orientation, age and a big long list of other things I haven’t thought of but nasty bigoty types have. A utopia has been reached, we are all equal. No man or woman is above any other. It is Brave New World (but without the drugging) and not 1984. Who could not be happy at such an event?
Well, entertainingly, both ends of the spectrum.
British companies don't like the Act. "Businesses are really concerned," said Abigail Morris from the British Chambers of Commerce.
"The government's own impact assessment shows that this is going to cost £190m just for businesses to understand the legislation, and this at a time when we really need them to be concentrating on creating private sector jobs and driving economic recovery."
What she seems to be saying is, “we want to carry on exploiting people, discriminating against older people and paying women less because it increases our profits. Equality=Cost and we don't want that.”
Well at least we now all know that I suppose. Business cares not for the workers. Is it any wonder that the Unions are getting twitchy?
I know that some see it as too easy to mock the Daily Mail but some times they make it too easy.
On Friday they published, on their front page, an article that complained that this was the “Death of the Office Joke”. Now, if you tell a racist, sexist, misogynist or anti-religious joke, you could fall foul of this legislation.
What's wrong with that? I don't know about the place where you work but we don't tell that sort of joke, it's not very nice.
They also have a problem with what is called Third Party harassment. According to the paper “It creates the controversial legal concept of ‘third party harassment’, under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive – even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren’t there at the time the comments were made.” Yep, nothing wrong with that either.
There is some argument however for a freedom of speech infringement here; do you have the right to offend? Is this legislation attacking your right to be a twat and it is possible that the answer to that question is yes. It is a defence that the paper often uses to defend it's self and did when Jan Moir wrote her awful article about the death of Stephen Gately, but for some reason they decided not to go with that, curious.
Maybe it is because the nasty Moir woman attacked “Modern” comedy earlier in the week. “This cruel, witless modern comedy is beyond a joke” she said. Her argument seems to be that we are no longer picking on the correct groups of people such as Gays, blacks and non-Christian religions.
So in Mail-land you should have the freedom of speech to attack anyone you like no matter how offensive you are, unless the Mail thinks you shouldn't. It's no wonder their readers are so filled with impotent rage, they have no idea what they can and can't do because their paper keeps confusing them.
But how about those that campaign for equality, what do they think of the act? As it is supposed to be anti-discriminatory surely they are as happy as a pig in the sort of thing that pigs are supposed to be happy in. What do, for instance, the British Humanist Association think about it? Well they are not happy either. They say that it gives “excessive privileges to religious organisations”. Oh dear, just when we thought we were getting somewhere.
I thought, given the coverage in the right wing press, that everyone had to be treated equally in the workplace but it seems not. According to Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, ‘Through wide exceptions that exempt religious organisations from significant parts of the law, the Equality Act gives excessive privileges specifically to religious groups, permitting them to discriminate against not only gay and lesbian people but against the non-religious and those of other religions.” Bugger. Oh well, it seems that we still have to carry on campaigning for equal rights for EVERYONE. Everyone, religious people, atheists, woman, gays, whoever, treated the same. No one group will be better than another. Please can we make that happen?
I've rambled on again haven't I? Sorry. Let's do some awards then,
The Award for Helping to Make Scientology Look Even Sillier of the Week,
Usually this award would go straight to Tom Cruise he seems to be on a mission (and not an impossible one, sorry, that was awful) to bring Scientology down from the inside by making himself and therefore, by association, his “religion” look ridiculous. This week, however, he has had some help.
Firstly there was a Panorama programme on BBC1 that had a bit a, admittedly flawed, look at what some may describe as the cult.
Then Councillor John Dixon, who was suspended from his job after the “Church” complained about him tweeting “I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off”, was cleared of any wrong doing and that he had not breached the councillors' code of conduct.
The final blow in a bad week came when the Charity Commission announced that it would recognise Druidism as a religion for Tax purposes. This is funny because they have refused to grant the same status to Scientology thereby making sure that it is not considered religion in this Country, well done us.
Ha, where is your Xenu now hey? Trapped in a volcano or something I think, to be honest I can't be bothered to wonder waist high through the levels of bullshit necessary to find out.
The Award for Bad Planning at a Sporting Event of the Week,
Maybe this should go to the organisers of the Commonwealth Games who have had one or two problems in getting ready for the event that starts today in Delhi but that would be too easy and I think that some people have been a little mean to them in recent weeks. No, no, the winner must be the person who thought that it would be a good idea to hold the Ryder Cup in Wales. In October.
What did they think would happen? Wales is not exactly renowned for its tropical weather and October isn't one of the UK's sunniest months. Surprisingly enough it rained on Friday and play was abandoned. Oh and then it rained yesterday afternoon and play was abandoned. And it’s rained again this morning and play is yet to start (at the time of writing)
I also heard, through the medium of Twitter so I don't know how accurate the story is, that the US team didn't bring any wet weather gear with them and had to buy some when they got here. Great research there. Planned about as well as the invasion of Iraq. It seems that the motto of America is “I'm sure it will be fine”. This is what happens if you watch too many Hollywood movies.
OK, enough moaning from me, I'm sure you have things to do. Have a lovely week and do try the Dorchester Online Radio Company podcast you might enjoy it, although you may not, it's the risk we take. Have a lovely week.