Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Put a brave face on it


IN THE noble cause of dissent, today’s true conservative quite rightly ponders what best to say and do. But there’s another question, sometimes neglected: what face should I wear? When entering the lion’s den – alack, in the current climate virtually anywhere outside our front door – how does one manage, even weaponise, one’s visage?

The vast majority of people we encounter see us but don’t hear us. And, lustful impulses aside (he says nostalgically), when they do see us, however momentarily, they home in on our face. Hence our expression is a visual beacon or megaphone, meriting due attention. Like others, I employ several strategies to navigate my mien through the woke rapids. 

‘Smile and the whole world smiles with you’ remains a wonderful truism. In saner times it’s the only physiognomy advice to follow, particularly when, in repose, one’s face is stubbornly serious-looking (as mine is). But in Bio-State Britain here’s our dilemma: if we smile warmly at the mask-wearer we risk normalising the mask.

Two years into this virtue-signalling theatre, then, the surgical mask-wearer in my immediate orbit receives, free of charge, a look of weary resignation: a faint smile betraying just a hint of pity. If conversation is necessary, say with a muzzled library assistant, throwing in the odd ‘Sorry, I can’t hear you’ proves a handy complement.

For those in the voguish, protruding ‘white beak’ masks, more effort is required: such avian grandstanding demands it. Meeting their gaze for an all-important split second, the eyes narrow and a look melding mild curiosity and disdain – a sort of slit-eyed bewilderment – is affected. For added quizzical effect, the head is slightly tilted. (I tend not to try this on surly security guards, at least when entering the premises.)

All Covid-related mask-wearing is farcical, of course. But to maximise their impact one should reserve outright mirthful responses for lunatics: the jogger (especially uphill), the seafront walker, the lone office worker behind a screen, and (my personal favourite) the elderly person alone on a canal boat. Here, a conspicuous chuckle is absolutely justified, indeed essential. If common sense is so obviously absent, measured ridicule is the only appropriate reaction – and possible panacea. (Canal lady looked daggers – a victory of sorts.)              

I haven’t yet been asked by a nurse whether I’m pregnant, but I relish the prospect. For when that time comes, an uninhibited guffaw will be just what the doctor ordered (so to speak). And I shan’t be held responsible for any embarrassment or offence caused, not when the ‘victim’ claims the status of healthcare ‘professional’. With its current direction of travel the NHS will soon be drafting a policy of zero-tolerance towards humiliation, never mind violence.     

Ideally, the ubiquitous ‘inclusive’ advertising billboard should provoke a similarly jocular rejoinder. But such is the sinister injustice confronting us here that any kind of laughter can be hard to generate. Better (first ensuring bystanders are present) to deploy the knowing smile accompanied by an exaggeratedly slow shaking of the noddle, which must nevertheless remain proudly upright.

Finally, what countervailing countenance should we present to the swivel-eyed SJW – the ‘Palestinian’ protester, the Socialist Worker-flogger, the ‘anti-racism’ campaigner and the climate change zealot? In this area my tactics have evolved. Occasionally, an aspect of contemptuous hauteur has had a flicker of purchase. I’ve also conjured, with mixed results, various looks of incredulity revolving around the screwed-up-face approach.  

My current line of thinking, which I should have settled on years ago, is that most SJWs are too delusional to notice, much less be moved by, overt facial pushback. No, my new default expression for these fanatics is of resolute blankness, declining to entertain their very existence. Henceforth they’re getting nothing out of me, least of all a rise.

Venturing into the danger zone outside, conservatives are putting on a brave face. Let’s continue, with imagination and elan, to do so literally as well as figuratively. 

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Stuart Major
Stuart Major
Stuart Major is an independent scholar based in Sussex.

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