Wednesday 18 August 2010
Julie Burchill: So the Prince of Green Hypocrites is going on tour. Thank God I'll be abroad
Green is the first socio-political movement in which every single leader and spokesperson is filthy rich.
As if the idea of a summer "staycation" in Blighty hasn't been discredited enough by the soggy old weather, those of our countrymen unwise enough to linger anywhere in the vicinity of these sceptered isles in early September are going to get a nasty shock. (I personally shall be whooping it up among the fleshpots of 5-star Tenerife in tanning preparation for my October holiday in Israel – no staycation for me, ta!)
For they run the risk of running into Prince Charles in full-on, emerald-green hypocritical flight. Though he won't actually be flying this time – not like he did in 2007 to the US, first class, with an entourage of 20 people, to collect an environmental award. Or like he did last year, when he used a private jet on an "environmental" tour of South America, costing approximately £300,000 over a 16,000-mile trip.
No, this time he'll be riding the Royal Train, which runs on sustainable biofuel – and hot air – hosting a five-day series of meetings and receptions along the way. You know, that shag-palace-on-sidings where back in the day this man of principle used to sleep with the wife of a brother officer while engaged to a virgin he chose like a broodmare. Happy days of our glorious heritage!
In the words of the ace old Monkees theme, so you better get ready, he might be coming to your town! Yes, if you live in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carmarthen, Bristol, Newcastle, Todmorden, Manchester or Birmingham, you may well be treated to the Prince's thoughts on sustainable living, including "a major scheme to encourage people in Wales to help sustain tropical rainforests," according to the BBC, as well as "smaller-scale projects, including allotments in public spaces such as railway stations. He will also visit an estate in Nottingham where residents have reduced their energy bills by installing solar roof panels. The project is of particular interest to the Prince, who plans to install 32 solar panels on the roof of his London home Clarence House."
I wonder what they'll talk about, the Prince and his people, on this whistle-stop tour of modern Britain.
Maybe they can rejoice together that the price of food has gone up so much in the past three years, according to the price comparison website mySupermarket.co.uk, that shoppers are paying 58 per cent more for those oh-so-yummy rice and pulses, 30 per cent more for a keep-calm-and-carry-on cuppa and 18 per cent more for life's little luxuries such as bread and eggs.
You might think that this would mean that Prince Charles will have to pull in his belt like the rest of us and cease his habit of having up to half a dozen boiled eggs served to him at breakfast until he finds, in the manner of Goldilocks, one which is cooked to his liking. "If the Prince felt that number five was too runny, he could knock the top off number six or seven," Jeremy Paxman wrote in his book On Royalty. Happily, he is the proud owner of his own flock of more than a dozen hens who live in a £10,000 hen house modelled on a Saxon steeple and made of environment-friendly green oak.
Still, I hope the recession-hit Brit won't be looking for sympathy from the farmer Prince, as cheap food has always been one of his pet hates. As he pronounced back in 2002: "The consumer needs to be made more aware that the seemingly endless desire for convenience and the lowest price has a direct impact, like it or not, on the producer. There is a real cost involved in cheap food to the countryside, to those who live and work there and to animal welfare. So let us not sacrifice long-term security for short-term convenience."
Don't you love it when a princely plan comes together, shoppers? And you'll have even more chances to pay more for basket basics over the coming months, as the price of bread and pasta seems set to rise even further after Russia announced a ban on the export of wheat in order to protect itself from shortages; another thing the Prince will approve of, seeming as he does in his crazed green way to believe that every country should be completely self-sufficient when it comes to food and only be allowed to eat whatever is "seasonal". No more flying in fruit from those foreigner farmer johnnies in Africa, what! Only eat strawberries in a month with a 'Z' in it and you'll appreciate them all the more!
As I said, I'll be abroad when the clown prince spreads the word amongst us planet-polluting proles, but if I were to meet him, I'd have two words for him – yes, apart from those – and those two words would be MARIE ANTOINETTE. I've said it before but it bears repeating; Green is the first socio-political movement in which every single leader and spokesperson is filthy rich – with PC himself at the top of the pile. Let them eat Duchy Originals cake, eh Charles? But try to hold back with the Duchy Originals Cornish Pasty – which boasts more calories, fat and salt on a gram for gram basis than a Big Mac. Toodle pip!
Children: I'm worried about the boring kids, not fat ones
Thousands of parents of primary school children have received letters from the NHS telling them that their little darlings are overweight. Kids are currently weighed twice – once upon entering infants reception class, and again before they leave junior school. As extra weight undoubtedly puts people at risk of heart disease and diabetes, tattle-tale letters are then dispatched to parents suggesting ways in which their demonised offspring might change their eating and exercise habits so that they avoid becoming full-blown fat adults.
I've got no beef with this. (Because I ate it all!) But while we're at it, might children also be evaluated at five and again at 11 for early signs that they are becoming boring? I've suffered from bores all my life, and the idea that this devastating condition – for the borers AND the bored – might be checked in its infancy is enchanting to me.
When I go out, I never worry about being cornered by a fat person – fatter than myself, even. But I DO worry about being bagged by a bore. I've fled parties, marriages and cities, even, to escape from bores – but I've never left any of them because people were fat.
Two-thirds of British women are completely bored with their lives, a survey claimed a couple of months ago. If small boys were monitored for signs of becoming raging bores throughout their school years, and their parents sent letters containing handy hints on how to make them more interesting, think how this could be averted!
Charity: Professional beggars can rely on my patronage
Apparently lots of beggars DO have homes to go to, according to the police, and some of them are coining in £20,000 a year! I don't care – I'm still going to keep on giving. I don't even need to be drunk but when I am, the tenners become twenties and I get chased down the street by beggars who claim I have given them "too much"!
I might do this because I'm religious, because I'm flash, or because as a hedonist I appreciate the way the part of the brain which lights up on receiving lights up twice as bright on giving. Who knows? But it transpired last Christmas that there is a very handy side benefit of my open-handedness. When my friend Sara and I were refused any more alcohol by the local Tesco as we were so drunk, the charming Big Issue seller outside was happy to go in and buy our liquor for us. Cheers!
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