Ed Lines August 4, 2017

Ed Lines August 4, 2017

PRINCE Philip is my kinda guy. He’d be on the Locky dinner party list every time. A bloke to stand next to at the bar in the local. Funny. Outrageous.

He’d ogle the barmaid’s ample wotsits and tip her the wink, 96 years old or not.

“She’s a bit young for you, Phil!” you’d admonish. “If one doesn’t shoot, one won’t score old chap,” he would reply, using his favourite polo adage of course – not that godawful game “soccah”.

And then, because like the Queen he hasn’t carried anything so common as cash since he left the navy, he’d leave you to pay for the brewskis.

I’d happily stump up.

There’s much current breast-beating about the retirement age going up, especially for women. I have some sympathies because we’ve all been led down the garden path for years, until finally an unlucky government had to call time – literally. 

A more cynical type than I might ask what happened to the gender equality argument, especially as women live longer anyway? 

Moving on…

The retirement goalposts will keep being moved – they’ll have to if people want the NHS, schools, police and every other public sector Tom, Dick or Harry being revered and remunerated like royalty. Their pensions are an economic crash waiting to happen, but I’ve never had any faith in the state being there as a safety net anyway. 

I don’t quite want to go on until I’m 96 like the Duke of Edinburgh, who finally retired this week, but putting on my slippers at 65 is hardly likely.

Britain is awash with socialist curmudgeons who will fiercely resent what they see as Prince Philip’s life of privilege, who scorn anyone who doesn’t share their jealous world view.

Well, I’d take a plate of corned beef hash over foie gras every tea-time, and take in a rugby league match over polo every Sunday afternoon. Horses for courses, you could say.

Meeting the great unwashed, standing or sitting through endless boring speeches, trying to be civil to a sea of strangers, day after week after month after decade – until you’re nearly 100? 

Not for all the paintings in Buck House, thank you. 

Philip and the wonderful Queen Elizabeth II have been a rare example of consistency and dignity in British public life. What the Corbynistas call privilege I’d call a life of service. 

So thank you sir – and I even hope you claim your OAP’s winter heating allowance, if only to have a flutter on one of old Lizzie’s horses at Royal Ascot next summer.

PROBABLY like Prince Philip, I won’t be watching Channel 4’s exploitative documentary on Sunday featuring previously unseen footage of Princess Diana discussing intimate details of her courtship and marriage to Charles.

There’s nothing more I need to know, see or hear about that disastrous relationship.

Diana was little more than a child and it seems she and Charles met only 13 times before they wed. 

Her family should be ashamed of subjecting the girl to that – it makes it sound like the court of Henry VIII, where grasping noble families virtually threw their daughters at the old lecher. “Close yer eyes and do yer duty gal, and we’ll have lands and castles across the country!”

From virginal vulnerability to unhinged promiscuity, the Diana phenomenon changed the Royal Family – maybe even the country too, because it ushered in the age of public hysteria, the carpet of flowers syndrome that greets any and every newsworthy death.

I’m not criticising people who publicly grieve this way. If not Diana, some other celebrity icon would probably have triggered Britons into a nation of weeping willows.

But it does characterise our changed society, and not for the better in my view.

The Channel 4 show comes hot on the heels of numerous stories about or interviews with William and Harry where they’ve bared their souls in referencing their own childhoods.

Is that therapeutic, cathartic for them? Perhaps. There’s certainly an OK Magazine/daytime telly audience for it and I’m probably in a minority of one in wishing they’d put a sock in it.

It may well be ‘good to talk’. But to everyone? Get professional help if it’s required, lads.

I sense that something of deeper import is underpinning this soft-PR offensive by some parts of the royalty. 

We shall see.

DO YOU have young people on the cusp of heading off to university this autumn? 

I’ll say a prayer for you – and them – because it’s a roll of the dice for most. 

I know parents cursing the faculty at the University of Leeds right now and numerous scenarios where, out in the real world, people would be thrown out on their ears. Clearly public/civic employment is a beast from a different world.

I’m familiar with one occasion where Leeds Uni students trying to finalise a critical piece of work sought clarification from their lecturer only to receive a ‘Sorry, I’m out on strike’ automated email reply.

In another instance a student couldn’t graduate because unaccountable admin staff simply failed to file their results.

And therein lies the truth of the university racket. 

It is not, repeat NOT, about the students and their educations/careers. 

Oh for sure that comes into it – you can make a car without caring if the engine works, but you won’t sell many if it doesn’t. Motions of ‘care’ have to be gone through, but it’s too often cursory at best.

The bottom line, literally, is that universities sell bums on seats at £9,250 (and rising) a year. It’s why, at a time when journalism jobs are in free fall, unis and colleges can’t create enough media courses whether they are fit for purpose or not – because kids with no idea what to do with their futures think journalism’s sexy.

The latest news comes of a £17.5 BILLION black hole in the university pension scheme (see comments above). 

I can’t imagine those pampered, too often bone idle and self-entitled lecturers will be volunteering to put their hands in their pockets to meet it, can you?

It puts Jeremy Corbyn’s now discarded promise to remove the billions of debts from students into perspective because either way he’s going to need serious amounts of manure for his money tree. 

Which, I suppose, is where Diane Abbott and John McDonnell come in.

I’M GOING to make a point of watching the final races of Usain Bolt’s stellar career over the next week or so.

At a time when so much of sport leaves me baffled – £200 million for a half-decent Brazilian footy player Neymar and the hype over a Formula One industry that’s basically two blokes racing each other? – Bolt is a beacon of talent, endeavour, honesty and niceness.

Niceness, not an adjective much used in megabucks sport, but Bolt’s smile and his personable nature put into stark contrast how miserable so many gifted and privileged sportspeople can be (yes, you Tiger, and most whingeing Premier League footballers).

Usain Bolt joins the immortals alongside people like Muhammad Ali, Pele and Dewsbury Rams coach Neil Kelly...

‘ACTION Man’ Mark Lloyd claimed disability benefits at a time he won a triathlon, climbed Kilimanjaro, went skiiing in the Alps and took part in the World Powerboat Championships.

He claimed he could barely walk and needed help going to the toilet – I make no wonder, anyone would have been knackered after that little lot.  

The ex-paratrooper tried to blame it on undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but a judge sent him down for 20 weeks anyway of which he’ll only do 10. If we want to seriously crackdown on this blatant theft it should have been 10 years.

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