Now the walk of 143 miles is over, our 11th walk! – the weather was kind to us – In fact it was perfect.
A couple of last thoughts.
If I am denounced for expressing my views, I shall of course demand ”counselling”: apparently it’s all the fashion these days.
I was told that my nemesis could come by twitter!
What an extraordinary world we are living in where we are seemingly unable to express our views and disagreements clearly to one another.
It would seem that little has changed since the early seventeenth century.
Trial by Twitter
On 11 April 1612, despite being given the chance to repent at his trial in Lichfield, Edward Wightman was burned as a heretic.
That was said to be the last time. Just think how enlightened we are today. How could our ancestors ever have been so plain stupid and wicked to kill people because their beliefs were contrary to our own?
Yet 400 years on we still are condemning people as heretics. At least Wightman had a trial… well, a trial of sorts. Today on social media, trolls are destroying people’s reputations, careers and livelihoods… without trial. Why? Just because the victims disagree with some arbitrary consensus – usually to do with race or gender – and because it’s such fun to sit in cruel judgement.
Look at what George Orwell wrote: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” It appears to have been junked…
Today, we all have to conform – or else! I have been warned that my simple blog is a bomb waiting to explode, and if the social media trolls get wind of it, like Dad’s Army “We’re doomed!” It’s ridiculous. I find it hard to believe that we have regressed to the days of Savonarola. But the trolls believe that their “views” make them morally superior to everyone else – and that if you disagree with them, then you are not only lower than vermin, they will destroy your career and livelihood and as publicly as possible to show the world the fate of heretics, just as they did in 1612.
This is monstrous. Today, talented people are running scared of saying anything that could be distorted, because once it’s been weaponised by the trolls, employers will be fearful of employing them, commercial firms won’t sponsor them, and TV producers will be frightened of hiring them. Who can blame anyone with a living to earn for being terrified? Once careers are destroyed, they stay destroyed.
What’s the motive? It’s a power play: a controlling minority are just as cruel and vicious and hungry for power now as they were in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. The trolls get their kicks by inflicting cruelty by Twitter: they tap away, anonymous and giggling with glee, safely hiding behind the narrow consensus of “the mob”.
That’s what happened to actor Laurence Fox. He simply argued on Question Time that Meghan Markle may have had grounds other than racism for leaving the UK. He now worries he may never work again. Then the reputations of Germaine Greer, Toby Young, JK Rowling and the late Sir Roger Scruton – to name but a very few – have all been thrown under a bus. An article by journalist Kevin Myers in the Sunday Times was purposefully misunderstood: despite the fact he never said what was reported, he was denounced worldwide for misogyny and anti-Semitism, his career destroyed.
At least the “heretic” Edward Wightman was given a trial. That’s more than Laurence Fox and the others were granted.
People take you at face value and life isn’t fair when it comes to faces. In repose, my beloved wife Jane has a face that clearly shows the world she’s a good and kind person; but in contrast, my face looks like an agitated horse and it’s not fair.
When they first meet me, people assume I’m a grumpy sort of guy, but in fact I’m just as nice as Jane. Well, I suppose not quite as nice, for that wouldn’t be possible, but at least a great deal nicer than I look. But people are bound to take you at face value; they assume that the way you look reflects character. Oh look, here comes that miserable old git. One look and its judgement day! And usually there’s no second chance to show a critical world my true colours.
But I’m sure that looking grumpy is better than being a continual smiler. The vicar of the church I used to go is an all-the-time smiler: every time you look at him, he’s grinning away as if he’s just heard some private joke. I find that irritating and it must be difficult for his parishioners. There you are, deserted and penniless with angina and fallen arches, and there’s old Fred grinning away as if he’s chorusing, “No worries!” Or you’re dying of the dreaded lesser-spotted lurgy and here he comes grinning like a Cheshire cat. Or you’re corpsed, the family’s in deep mourning, and there’s Fred again grinning like a ragtime band to spoil your misery.
On balance, I’ll settle for looking like a horse!
Our youngest grandson, Raphael Benyon (Raph), took it upon himself to write to the queen as follows:
“Dear Your Majesty the Queen,
I am writing to you because I wanted to say “thank you” for being such a brilliant and superstar queen for such a long time.
My two brothers and our little dog Lotti have enjoyed playing and doing puzzles with my dad and riding my bike in lockdown. I wonder what you have enjoyed doing?
My family are praying for you in this very strange time. We hope you will be happy and full of hope.
Ralph Benyon, aged 7
Nothing else to be said really, is there?