One of the more disturbing facets of our brave new Britain is the extent to which the state seeks to micromanage our private behaviour within increasingly narrowly-defined, self-righteous and humourless guidelines. If you’re a drinker, a smoker, overweight, a keen outdoor photographer or just a slightly anxious air traveller trying to leaven the mood in the search area, you’ll know what I mean.
In recent years, this has become a growing trend in schools with the ‘food police’ inspecting lunchboxes, restrictions on fast-food outlets in close proximity to schools, propagandising climate alarmism and even the encouragement of young children to nag parents on matters such as recycling. Today, we have another piece of state-sanctioned interference in our childrens’ natural development.
At school, I had a French teacher who rejoiced in the name of Miss Topliss. She was young, beautiful and, somewhat ironically, was in possession of what most would describe as a magnificent chest. Of this, she appeared to be justifiably proud: she certainly spent an inordinate amount of time looking down at her breasts and brushing off real or imagined detritus. Naturally, as pubescent boys, she fascinated us, particularly when she turned out in her regulation tennis whites for the end-of-year staff/pupil sports day. She was well aware – and thoroughly amused by – the disquieting effect she had when she leaned over us to check our conjugations (snigger).
Inevitably, she was the subject of a great deal of smutty discussion and the more worldly-wise amongst us awarded her a variety of (in)appropriate nicknames none of which would have been particularly Wildean in their wit or originality. Like all the other teachers, she got to know what her nicknames were and like most of the teachers, she played the game and claimed to derive amusement from them. I suspect that she was more bemused: I certainly was.
Today, we hear that 4 police officers spent 90 minutes giving ‘restorative justice‘ (spend a few moments savouring that fine piece of justice-debasing, tautological Newspeak) to five 13-year-old lads for privately describing the school’s liaison WPC (who was elsewhere) as ‘PC Nipples’. That’s 6
man person hours of taxpayer-funded time – from the very same service that regularly pleads a lack of resources – to lecture five lads in possession of raging hormones over a nickname they used in private… And when did ‘nipples’ become a perjorative, sexist term? We do all have them don’t we (please tell me that it’s not just me)?
By contrast, at a different school not so far, far away, a 57 year-old assistant described a 5 year-old girl as a ‘f****** t***’ in a message which she inadvertently left on the child’s mother’s answerphone. The head teacher declined to apply any ‘restorative justice’ and suggested that the parents needed to ‘move on’. Compare and contrast.
The thought police move in mysterious, contradictory and increasingly intrusive ways. Thank goodness Miss Topliss had the confidence and self-assurance not to need them.