Thing is, I had planned to take the Bank Holiday weekend off. There was supposed to be a ‘Littlejohn Is Away’ logo where this column usually appears.
Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell the Government department which meets once a week to dream up something for me to write about. They’ve been working overtime this month.
And just when I thought it would be the perfect time to put my feet up for a few days, it’s been the turn of the National Health Service to get in on the act.
For the past 30-odd years, men in Ludlow, Shropshire, have dressed up as nurses and pushed a bed through the streets to raise money for the NHS
Before they grabbed a six-pack of Red Stripe and headed off to celebrate diversity and smoke a few spliffs at the Notting Hill Carnival, they decided to lob another dolly drop my way. What can a poor boy do? It would be rude not to. We’re talking gift horses and mouths here.
Over ’ere son, on me ’ead.
For the past 30-odd years, men in Ludlow, Shropshire, have dressed up as nurses and pushed a bed through the streets to raise money for the NHS.
It might not be as big a deal as the Notting Hill Carnival, but it has certainly become one of the highlights of the social calendar in the market town, drawing large, enthusiastic crowds from miles around.
This year, rattling their buckets as they ran, the ‘nurses’ raked in £2,500, which was to go towards a new ECG (electro-cardiogram) machine for the local hospital.
But the po-faced, Guardianista jobsworths who run the Shropshire Community Healthcare NHS Trust have decided arbitrarily that they won’t accept the money — because they consider the event to be sexist and offensive.
Oh, for heaven’s sake. In a statement, chief executive Jan Ditheridge and chairman Mike Ridley said: ‘The presentation of men dressed as female nurses in a highly sexualised and demeaning way is wrong, very outdated and insulting to the profession.
‘It isn’t OK to portray healthcare professionals in this way. We have previously asked that this doesn’t happen and therefore don’t think it’s right to accept any money associated with this activity.’
They were backed by Dr Simon Freeman, who describes himself as ‘accountable officer’ — whatever the hell that is when it’s at home — for the Shropshire clinical commissioning group, who insisted: ‘The objectification of women is not acceptable.’
In the immortal words of the late, great Bruce Forsyth: Where do they find these people?
Ms Ditheridge (you just knew it was going to be a Ms, didn’t you?) said they had warned the organisers in advance that the Trust disapproved of men dressing up as female nurses, sorry ‘healthcare professionals’. So when the chaps from the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital attempted to present their cheque for two-and-a-half grand it was a case of ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
More from Richard Littlejohn for the Daily Mail…
To which the only sane reaction is: how dare they? How bloody dare they turn down a sizeable donation, obtained in the most generous of spirits, to a health service which is constantly pleading poverty?
Peter Corfield, chairman of the League of Friends, described their refusal to take the money as ridiculous. ‘In these times of austerity you’d expect they would want all the help they can get.
‘This bed push is a traditional thing. The whole thing is a light-hearted fundraiser. These guys, year after year, rain or shine, give up their free time to raise funds for the hospital — a hospital everyone here holds dear.
‘We are just a group of blokes trying to raise funds for our local community and have a laugh at the same time. Of course they’re angry they’ve been singled out and demonised in this way.’
I don’t blame them. Over the years, they have raised tens of thousands of pounds for the NHS by the annual bed push.
Where does Mizz Ditherer and her little gang of moral guardians get the idea that somehow they have the right to reject money raised by men dressing up as nurses, simply because it offends their own warped sense of what is or isn’t politically acceptable?
Their job is to run the health service for the benefit of everyone in the Ludlow area, including the guys who gave up their spare time to make a spectacle of themselves pushing a bed through the streets while dressed up as Kenneth Cope in Carry On Matron.
Anyone who can interpret this event as ‘highly sexualised’ and ‘demeaning’ belongs in a padded cell in one of the NHS’s secure institutions. The health service isn’t so flush with funds that it can spurn a £2,500 donation towards a much-needed piece of equipment for heart patients.
Mizz Ditherer and her ‘accountable officer’ sidekick need to be reminded in no uncertain terms to whom they are accountable.
They don’t own the health service. It belongs to everyone. They are mere hired hands and are not entitled to impose their political bigotry on the rest of us, especially to the detriment of the medical services they’re employed to provide.
Anyway, apart from themselves, on whose behalf, exactly, are they taking offence? No one has ever complained about the event, not even members of the local cross-dressing community.
On the website of the Shropshire Star newspaper, one Ludlow resident commented: ‘I am transgendered, the child of a medical practitioner and someone who supports gender equality.
‘In short, I’m in a position to have a claim to be offended by this method of fundraising — and the decision by the Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust has disgusted me. This money was raised in all good faith by people who gave up their time to follow a tradition that has been going for 30 years. With the country and the NHS in the state it’s in, it is ludicrous to turn this down.’
The Met are always bleating about staff shortages and lack of ‘resources’. So it’s good to know they can still rustle up enough officers to respond to genuine emergencies.
Eight coppers in five police cars raced to the scene of an incident in South-West London — to arrest a Yorkshire terrier called Alfie. A courier had complained that the dog ran towards him and bit him when he tried to deliver a parcel to Alfie’s owner, 73-year-old Claudia Settimo-Bovio.
Alfie, who is aged ten, stands only 6in tall and weighs just a stone, was collared under the Dangerous Dogs Act and taken away to help the police with their inquiries. Miss Settimo-Bovio hasn’t seen him since. She claims the courier fell over and Alfie didn’t touch him.
The Met are always bleating about staff shortages and lack of ‘resources’. So it’s good to know they can still rustle up enough officers to respond to genuine emergencies
Still, can’t be too careful. I’m only surprised they didn’t send a helicopter and an armed response team, too.
It’s not as if a crime was in progress. The alleged incident is said to have taken place two months ago, back in June.
Maybe they were hoping to be nominated for the finals of this year’s prestigious Mind How You Go Awards and were inspired by the headline on this column a couple of weeks ago: ‘Silly season? This year it’s totally barking!’
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Virgil, quick! There goes Admiral Nelson Mandela
The American Left hasn’t always had such a violent aversion to all things Confederate.
One of the great anthems of the Woodstock Generation was The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. It was written by The Band’s Robbie Robertson, and was a hit for Leftie folk singer Joan Baez, darling of the labour movement, who sang We Shall Overcome for President Obama at the White House.
Rolling Stone magazine, the hippies’ bible, praised Dixie’s ‘overwhelming human sense of history’. The song contained the line: ‘Virgil, quick! Come see! There goes Robert E Lee’ — a reference to the famous Southern civil war general. Still, now statues of Lee and others are being pulled down in the States, it was inevitable that the British Left would want a piece of the action.
Some dopey bird in the Guardian even wants Nelson’s statue removed from Trafalgar Square. I’m reminded of when Looney Tunes Labour councils were naming every street and building after Nelson Mandela. Haringey, which flew the ANC flag above the Town Hall, happily gave planning permission to a pub in Wood Green, North London, to be called The Nelson — they presumed in honour of the South African civil rights leader.
Imagine their surprise when the pub opened with a picture of Admiral Horatio over the door; scenes from the Battle of Trafalgar; and red, white and blue bunting everywhere.
It was a time, I remember, oh so well . . .