I KNOW nothing should surprise us these days about dumbed-down Britain. But an article on the moronic Mail Online website the other day had me choking on my cornflakes.
It read: ‘In 2020, Mandy Lieu, 38, bought 935-acre Ewhurst Park in Hampshire, once owned by the inventor of the wellington boot, the Duke of Wellington, and vowed to turn it into a world-class organic farm and nature reserve.’
The inventor of the wellington boot!
Good grief, I know teaching of British history is nowadays outrageously skewed and bowdlerised, but I didn’t realise things had got this bad.
The article’s author obviously thinks the Iron Duke’s main claim to fame was the welly. Does she know nothing about him being a soldier and statesman, victor of the Peninsular War, victor of Waterloo, nemesis of Napoleon, twice Prime Minister? Or is the wellington boot reference made simply to get equally thick readers to relate to the story? Who cares about fusty old battles and boring politics? It is all so yesterday, isn’t it? But everyone knows what wellies are, don’t they?
To anyone with a modicum of interest in this country’s past, such ignorance is deeply depressing, to say the least. But I suppose it could be worse. Think what would happen if some Mail Online know-nothing hack was able to interview other historical figures . . .
‘Sir Winston Churchill, tell us how you came up with the idea of a nodding bulldog to promote your insurance company.’
‘Napoleon, having invented a popular type of brandy, was it perhaps rather egotistical to name it after yourself?’
‘Pablo Picasso, as a car designer you must be thrilled to see your Citroën Grand C4 Picasso being crowned “Best Used MPV” in the Auto Express Used Car Awards 2023.’
‘Emperor Hadrian, I hear you’ve ordered two and a half million tons of bricks and thousands of tons of lime mortar. That’ll be one heck of a villa you’re building up north.’
‘Galileo Galilei, how exciting was it to find overnight fame when Freddie Mercury incorporated your unusual name into Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody’?
‘Julius Caesar, in these health-conscious times, the calorific content of the famous salad you invented can be a worry. What do you think about using yoghurt instead of mayonnaise for the dressing?’
‘Marco Polo, your three greatest achievements are inventing the “mint with the hole”, devising the horseback sport popular with the upper classes, and designing the polo neck sweater. What other ideas do you have?’
‘Lady Godiva, can you show us your latest riding outfit?’
‘Mahatma Gandhi, after your success with your eponymous blockbuster movie in 1982, are there any other film projects in the pipeline?’
‘Neil Armstrong, have you been anywhere interesting during your career?’
‘Oliver Cromwell, may I wish you a happy Christmas?’