SARAH VINE: Shame on the Dame who sneers at Britain… If Hilary Mantel thinks Dover is unwelcoming towards refugees, she should spend some time in Sicily or Calabria
As someone who considers herself more than a little Italian, I couldn’t help raise an eyebrow when I read that, in an interview with the Roman newspaper La Repubblica, Dame Hilary Mantel had denounced the ‘ugly face of contemporary Britain’.
She railed against the ‘people on the beaches abusing exhausted refugees even as they scramble to the shore’.
I think most people would agree that humans should not abuse other humans. But if she thinks Dover is unwelcoming towards refugees, she should spend some time in Sicily or Calabria, or in the suburbs of Paris or Marseille.
After a few honest conversations, she might just find herself warming to the good people of East Kent.
As someone who considers herself more than a little Italian, I raised an eyebrow when I read that Dame Hilary Mantel (above) denounced the ‘ugly face of contemporary Britain’
Truth is, every nation has its ugly side.
Ireland, to which Dame Hilary wishes to escape the cultural hell-hole of Britain, recently mourned the deaths of more than 9,000 children in the country’s mother-and-baby homes between 1922 and 1998, a tragedy the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, called a ‘dark, difficult, shameful chapter of very recent Irish history’.
Perhaps that sort of thing doesn’t bother Dame Hilary. Either way, she seems determined to signal her disapproval of a certain type of Britishness.
The monarchy as an institution baffles her; Brexiteers are ‘callow opportunists, insincere and devious’; and Boris Johnson ‘should not be in public life’.
Everything here is so utterly ghastly that she can see only one possible course of action: to pack her bags and ‘become a European again’. But what, exactly, does she mean by that?
It’s interesting that Mantel — who like so many people who voted to Remain and appear to have been unable to reconcile the reality of the 2016 Referendum result with their own overriding sense of entitlement and superiority — makes the same fundamental error as many other prominent Remainer intellectuals.
The monarchy as an institution baffles Dame Mantel; Brexiteers are ‘callow opportunists, insincere and devious’; and Boris Johnson (pictured) ‘should not be in public life’
She confuses the EU — a relatively recent concept — with Europe itself: that is to say the many disparate nations, traditions and languages that stretch from Portugal to Finland and beyond, and to which, when I last checked the map, the UK still very much belongs.
She cannot ‘become a European again’ for the simple reason that she never stopped being one. She can, of course, adopt the nationality of an EU member state such as Ireland.
Truth is, every nation has its ugly side, says Sarah Vine (pictured)
But even that won’t solve her fundamental problem, which is that her post-referendum frustrations seem to have caused her to develop a deep-seated loathing of everything she, herself, represents.
Mantel is a Dame of the British Empire who says ‘the popularity of monarchy as an institution is something that baffles me’ and a writer who has made a career out of chronicling the history of these isles, which she believes to be ‘an artificial and precarious construct’.
Maybe it is; but it is arguably a good deal less artificial and precarious than a tenuous political and economic alliance that was formed less than 30 years ago.
Perhaps the solution is not for Dame Hilary to move to Ireland, but to the U.S., where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex seem to see no contradiction in trading off their British royal connections while simultaneously doing their best to bring the institution down. Dame Hilary should be right at home.
THIS IS MOTHERS’ RUIN
An estate agent who took her employer to a tribunal after he refused to let her work a four-day week and leave the office early to collect her child from nursery has been awarded £180,000 — more than her annual salary — in damages.
She claims she brought the case to ensure her daughter does not have ‘the same experience’ when she is older. In fact, she has ensured precisely the opposite: it’s thanks to people like her that small firms are so reluctant to employ women of childbearing age, in case they find themselves embroiled in similarly ruinous proceedings.
Truth is, some jobs just can’t be done part-time or on reduced hours.
In this particular case, the woman was on £120,000 a year — more than enough, you would have thought, to employ help. Not so much having it all as grabbing it all.
The Girls’ Schools Association is calling for an overhaul of the university admissions system so students apply after receiving their A-level results.
Yes, yes and thrice yes. As someone who’s eldest is trapped in the UCAS U-bend, I’m convinced it would make life easier for pupils, teachers and parents. What’s stopping them?
DELAY THAT COST SARAH HER LIFE
Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding’s death from cancer at the age of 39 seems all the more tragic because, while she spotted a growth on her breast, she initially dismissed it as a harmless cyst that had been caused by the abrasion of her guitar strap.
Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding’s (pictured in 2008) death from cancer at the age of 39 seems all the more tragic because, while she spotted a growth on her breast, she initially dismissed it
A YouGov survey, commissioned by Breast Cancer Now last year, revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for symptoms, and 21 per cent admit they are ‘not confident’ about what they should look for when they do check them.
The idea that this vibrant, talented young woman might well still be with us if she had recognised the tell-tale signs and sought help, rather than waiting until the pain became overwhelming and her skin had started to bruise, fills me with sorrow.
A MARK OF IGNORANCE
Botox and fillers are to be banned for the under-18s, following a spike in demand as a result of tawdry reality TV shows such as Love Island.
But the truth is the entire industry is in dire need of proper regulation — and the vast majority of responsible practitioners would welcome it with open arms.
In fact, for almost two decades the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has been calling for tighter restrictions, in particular when it comes to dermal fillers which, as things stand, are not classed as medicines and carry no minimum standards for training.
All they require is a CE mark — the same as for a teddy bear or a toaster. Unbelievable, when you think about it.
Dame Jenni Murray is right to be furious that her replacement on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Emma Barnett, is being paid more than she earned.
It’s a stark reminder of how pronounced the gender pay gap was in Dame Jenni’s day, and how — thanks in large part to her pioneering efforts — women now command commensurate salaries to men.
Emma, I think you owe Jenni a few cocktails!
Adorable pictures of David Walliams squiring his mum, Kathleen, to his 50th birthday party.
I couldn’t help wondering whether we were looking at the inspiration for Walliams’s brilliant children’s book, Gangsta Granny, which my then seven-year-old adored when it came out in 2011.
Let’s hope none of Amanda Holden’s bling went missing!
Adorable pictures of David Walliams squiring his mum, Kathleen, to his 50th birthday party. I couldn’t help wondering whether we were looking at the inspiration for Gangsta Granny
The news that the Yorkshire regiment has been hit by a drugs scandal — with 19 soldiers testing positive for cannabis and cocaine — certainly lends new meaning to the term ‘Colombian marching powder’.
Apparently their excuse is they don’t have enough to do.
I would suggest getting them to fill in for absent staff at border control in Heathrow and Manchester, where never-ending queues have been making the lives of families returning from holiday a misery.
But perhaps putting them in charge of customs might present too much of a temptation…
Sales of super-strong vapes have rocketed in the past year. One brand, Geek Bar Pro, which contains twice the legal level of nicotine, has seen sales across its range jump from around 2,000 a week to 53,000.
And the worst part is that they’re deliberately aimed at youngsters.
They are heavily promoted on social media platforms such as TikTok, flavoured to taste like fruit, bubble gum and ice cream, and cheap: between £5 and £7 a pop, which makes them roughly half the price of a packet of ordinary fags.
Plus they are much easier to get hold of, since they can be bought online.
Vapes have, of course, been heavily promoted as a safer alternative to tobacco.
But, quite honestly, I would prefer if my teenagers just smoked old-fashioned tabs, instead of inhaling hot, unregulated liquid which medical experts say can be the equivalent of 125 cigarettes.
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