Editor's Comment: December 2017
PUBLISHED: 12:14 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:14 16 November 2017
"Perceived rules and regulations change so rapidly that you now have to check with Twitter for a behavioural update before daring to leave the house."
We live in difficult times. Perceived rules and regulations change so rapidly that you now have to check with Twitter for a behavioural update before daring to leave the house. I called a supermarket till operative “love” last week, as is my Northern wont. I’m now expecting the six o’clock knock from the Thought Police. By yesterday things had got so desperate that I wore a balaclava, mittens and sewn-up trousers before venturing out.
I know, I know – sexual harassment and bullying isn’t a laughing matter and like any gentlemen of my age who have managed a department or company (or newspaper) which had female employees, I’ve had to cast my mind back a couple of decades to try to recall if I had ever done anything that might now be considered to be abusive or exploitative. I am glad (and relieved) to say that I can recall nothing untoward. But then, it’s not my decision, is it? The women who worked for me get to call my behaviour right or wrong.
(Men are excluded from this mea culpa, given that I once put a news editor in a waste bin and also set fire to a chief sub’s hair. Just newsroom japes, honest.)
There is an interesting split in the reaction to the latest outbreak of outrage. The formidable women who surround me, in work and at home, tend to side with the “kick him in the nadgers” school of thought. They have always had to put up with this kind of nonsense and have coped with it admirably. Other, perhaps younger, women are quite furious and would happily see someone lose their job and career as justifiable punishment for a wandering hand or an over-familiar embrace.
I suspect that the correct response is somewhere between the two. And we should not forget the role of Twitter and its ilk in stoking the flames whenever something like this occurs. So I blame social media. And Brexit, of course.
Like our columnist Adam Edwards, I am distraught at the mysterious loss of Pakeman, Catto & Carter from Cirencester’s Market Place. This emporium represented to me the epitome of Cotswold style. Like taking the decision to buy this magazine, to wear something from there was a badge of belonging; a statement of your commitment to the Cotswolds.
Not that I ever managed it. I have been saving up for a decade to one day stroll in there and say: “See that tweed-clad mannequin with the yellow cords and burgundy waistcoat in the window? I’ll have everything it’s wearing please.”. Finances never allowed, and now never will. (Perhaps that was the problem.)
I would probably have never worn the full outfit – I once wore a pair of red trousers to a function for a bet and startled two old ladies who caught me hurriedly changing out of them in a hotel car park after the lunch - but I would have owned it and that would have been enough.
But as Adam identifies, and catching the theme of this Comment column, times are a’changing. Luckily Cirencester still has another classic gentlemen’s outfitter just down the road. I can now not afford to buy anything from there instead.
While we’re on the subject of our brilliant columnists, I advise you to take a tissue with you as you head along to Clare Mackintosh’s contribution on Page 17. Don’t panic, it’s not bad news, but a situation every parent has had to face eventually.
Oh, and Merry Christmas to you all!
For more from Mike, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor