Great news all round. We are staying just outside Cambridge. A blessed day away from my Plod as guests of one of my favourite people, our younger son, Oliver and his wife Lois and their not so baby girls, Amelie and Annabel. I visited Kings College Chapel, one of the wondrous things you should mark high on your Bucket List.
We discover that Oli and Lois are now expecting their third child, our eleventh grandchild so, God willing, in a little time we will be Mr and Mrs Quiverful. I love the grandchildren experience, all Jane and I have are the good bits: the games and the stories and the fun and when they start to smell or cost lots of money they get handed back to their struggling parents.
We read of the English football manager being caught in a sting whereby he was offering to sell influence for £400k to Overseas buyers of his team and other favours that I didn’t understand. Poor man. Why did he need more than the three million pounds he was already getting? What would he have spent it on? It seems that vast piles of cash have ruined the game and so it is no longer just fun but an international industry. It seems the whole bang shoot is riven with corruption and the UK were meant to be setting an example. What a sad day for football lovers.
My Good Name
In retrospect, it was only a matter of time before the police attracted strong criticism for neglecting the vast number of young girls in Rochdale who were being sexually abused by Muslim men. For years the police decided to ignore complaints for fear of attracting criticism of “institutional racism”.
It was only after a Times journalist and a courageous abused girl persisted that the awful truth flowered into a vast scandal. Then there was the horror of the abuses of the grotesque Jimmy Savile who for years managed to rape vulnerable people, wherever he found an opportunity, on an industrial scale.
The police sought to avoid more damage by pronouncing that the words of those claiming to have been molested would henceforth be taken “seriously”. This offered open season not only to genuine claimants, but also to every fantasist, opportunist and ambulance-chasing lawyer going.
The disastrous “Operation Midland” included rigorously investigating the late Ted Heath, war hero Lord Bramall, politician Leon Britain and former MP Harvey Proctor for sexual abuse based on the accusations of a single man – whose outpourings were deemed by one senior cop to be “credible and true”. Then Cliff Richard was smeared. In each case the police called the accusers “victims” with the implication that everyone who had been fingered in the enquiry was probably guilty. In each case, the police apparently tipped off the press. The allegations were supported by publicity-seeking MPs (such as the appalling Tom Watson), and an army of solicitors who smell money like sharks scent blood. Allegations where sex is involved are toxic for there is “no smoke without fire”. Of course, the damage to the reputations of the accused is terrible and lasting.
Despite vigorous attempts by the police to generate sufficient evidence to get the cases to stand up they dribbled away to an embarrassing… nothing.
There is a Chinese proverb quoted by Jung Chang, in her book Wild Swans: “Where there is a will to convict, there is always evidence.”
If you want to believe something bad about someone, you will usually find something to justify your prejudice if you look hard enough. We are all fallen and we all make mistakes.
I knew a man once who was responsible for recruiting his company’s graduate intake. He was an odd choice for he nurtured a cluster of prejudices about universities, which he took pleasure in sharing with each new intake. “Graduates,” he claimed flatly, “are by definition work-shy, impractical, prone to lateness with dubious moral behaviour and worst of all… they are always socialists!”
It has to be admitted that granted the strength of his will to convict, he could always find some evidence to convince himself that he was right.
This man’s prejudice is played out every day. When it’s played out by the media, the outcome can be ruinous for the lives of its victims. Once the media have the will to convict then it’s only a matter of time before the “evidence” is collected and backed up by pictures. Should a person be grieving over some disaster, then find a picture of him with a drink in hand. Should he be showing some gravitas, then find one where he is acting the clown, even if taken at a party years ago.
When it’s played out by heads of State (Hitler, or in recent times Donald Trump) it can lead to nations going to war with lives destroyed. When it’s played out by the police and the Director of Prosecutions, reputations can be shredded.
It’s an unfair world and we all have to plead guilty to convicting people we know – and celebrities we don’t – without evidence in the court of our own personal judgements. How do we react to the names of Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn, Rupert Murdoch or Tony Blair? Do we really know all the facts or are we just quoting Daily Mail headlines? Are we joining in the prejudice of the crowd?
We should be careful: take heed of these words from Othello:
“Who steals my purse steals trash…’tis something, nothing;
’Twas mine, ’tis his and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.”