I am having terrible trouble with my hair at the moment. It is lank, flat and lifeless. There are split ends. Also, it doesn’t smell too good. What’s that appalling stench, my wife asked recently while sitting next to me on the sofa as we watched a rerun of the old racist editions of Midsomer Murders starring the excellent John Nettles. ‘Probably the dog, again,’ I replied — but I knew that was a lie. I knew it was my hair. It smelt like that rotten cheese Italians eat. I don’t know why, because I wash it frequently enough. Maybe, to adapt Orwell’s mordant observation, at the age of 56 everyone has hair which smells exactly as they deserve. In my case, Gorgonzola, with a subtle undertone of raw sewage.
What I needed, then, was a brilliant haircare product available from a shop called Urban Outfitters. It is called ‘Peachy Head — Peach Shampoo for Suicidal Hair.’ That would do the job. But unfortunately the product is no longer available to me, because of the furore that was occasioned. The screeching, the howl-round, the mentalisms. Suicide is not a laughing matter, you bastards! The perpetually furious internet denizens — obsessives and compulsives all — bombarded Urban Outfitters on Twitter demanding that the firm withdraw the product forthwith and also donate money to a mental health charity to atone for their sins. I assume this last broadside was a case of economic self-interest on the part of the fantastically deranged individuals who inhabit cyberspace — they will be needing that assistance one day soon. Anyway, Urban Outfitters of course caved in and pulled Peachy Head. I can no longer buy the product because of the offence caused to a handful of people who have skin as thin and fragile as the surface tension of water.
Beachy Head, in East Sussex, is a famous suicide spot, hence the punning name of the product, the peachy/beachy joke which so enraged. Unhappy people throw themselves off the sheer and stark white cliffs and down on to the rocks 531ft below. As a reliable termination-of-life venue, it is quite close to the city of Brighton — and yet despite its great convenience and pleasant surroundings, all too few Brighton residents avail themselves of the opportunity of killing themselves here. Perhaps Beachy Head should advertise itself a little better in the city, maybe with a helpful map — ‘This Way To Top Yourself — You Know It Makes Sense’. I would happily drive charabancs of right-on Brightonians eager to end it all the 20-odd miles from their debauched and smug little bijou seaside residences to the terminal pristine clarity of those majestic white cliffs.
This is a city which has abolished men and women so as not to offend people who aren’t entirely sure which of the two they are. The council has a fleet of eco-friendly electric cars which, of course, never work. It had a council leader called ‘Jason Kitcat’. It is the home of our only Green MP. It makes Islington look rational and rooted.
Hell, if the people of Brighton can’t be arsed to make the short journey to Beachy Head, I would pay towards having Beachy Head transported to Brighton, so that it is even handier for them, and personally chaperone them towards the precipitous edge: ‘Look, look — it’s France just over there! Doesn’t the water look a lovely blue! Now take a deep breath…’ They’re all in favour of assisted dying, after all. Well, let me lend a helping hand.
It’s also the place — of course — where parents have objected most stringently to Sats tests for their unspeakable children. Granted, it is a mild surprise that there any people left in Brighton predisposed towards procreating in the normal manner — although maybe all the children are adopted. I don’t have the stats for that. But whatever, Brighton is the place where a ‘strike’ of six- and seven-year-old children took place — actually organised by their parents (or guardians) and various cretinous leftie-green activists. The children (but rather the parents) were supposedly aghast at having to sit these tests — one mother complained plaintively that her offspring (almost certainly called Syriza or Gaia) had a ‘tummy ache’ as a consequence of the stress induced by these brief exams. So they took their kids out of school for the day. One of the strike organisers said: ‘The kids weren’t just having a day off. The event had speeches, workshops, yoga classes for the kids. This is Brighton, don’t forget.’ Nope, we won’t forget, have no worries on that count.
A former head teacher called Kit Messenger said she thought that by and large children should be encouraged to learn things, sure, but not at the expense of not being taught ‘resilience and interpersonal abilities’. Listen, you silly woman: that stuff is taught by parents, or should be. Schools are there to educate, to teach, to inculcate knowledge and to both enhance and evaluate ability. But thank you, Kit, for no longer being a head teacher. There are some mercies in the world.
My suspicion is, though, that the parents took their kids out of the Sats tests because they were scared stiff that their brats would be revealed as being even thicker than they are. That’s usually the reason the middle class cavil at tests in schools. And they retrospectively decide that their children are one of two things — either ‘dyslexic’ or ‘more intuitive, intellectually, than academic’. Au contraire — your child got a Sats score that would embarrass a bowl of cauliflower cheese because he is as thick as a plank. And your genes are to blame.
The government has largely backtracked on plans to improve the education we give our kids, and thus to hoist the UK back above the likes of Djibouti and Cape Verde in the educational league tables. The poorest families rather liked what Michael Gove had to offer. It was always the middle class which cavilled. They don’t like the idea of a meritocracy, in practice.