Enough of all these rewards. Let’s have a ‘dishonours list’

The Independent Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Enough of all these rewards. Let’s have a ‘dishonours list’

It’s pretty embarrassing to admit, but whenever I read the New Year Honours list, there’s always a part of me that hopes that – due to a massive clerical cock-up – my name will somehow appear.

I know I’ve done nothing to deserve it, and it’s not that I particularly yearn to be a dame; I do the same thing with FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women and Specsavers’ Spectacle Wearer of the Year. Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel slightly deflated when I’m overlooked yet again.

No such disappointment for Roger Carr. Selling off Cadbury and overseeing gas price rises might not seem to be laudable behaviour to you or me, yet he still gets a knighthood. Maybe the Queen is like Santa, with a “nice” and “naughty” list, and she accidentally got the columns mixed up. I know Santa used to do that quite a lot, because I always got presents even though I was a vile child.

Unlike Santa though, the honours system isn’t supposed to be fair. Nothing about rank and privilege is fair. The Queen was born in a palace and gets to wear gold hats just because her great, great, great, great, great, great granddad wasn’t a Catholic. I was born in Croydon and wear crap hats just because my great, great, great, great, great, great granddad probably was.

Clearly, since the “cash for honours” scandal the politicians have to be a bit more careful, but I’m sure deals still go on. You might think Annie Lennox is being recognised for her charity work, but I have it on good authority that she’s actually got pictures of David Cameron dressed up in sexy lady pants.

The whole set-up has always been riddled with corruption, so I don’t know why we don’t get rid of the veneer of democracy that has been introduced to the honours. Let’s just go back to a system where the monarch rewards the people she owes money to or fancies. I bet Alan Titchmarsh would be a Life Peer overnight – Liz wouldn’t just be thinking about his talents in the flowerbeds, eh ladies?

Unchecked, our ruler could make more “fun” choices than the politicians and committees who are in charge now. In 2005, the Norwegians made a penguin in Edinburgh zoo honorary colonel-in-chief of the King’s Guard. We could have an army of puppies, people.

Something must be done because at the moment, the cool people are the ones turning down the honours. In 2003, when The Sunday Times obtained leaked documents revealing the names of people who’d declined, that was a list I really wanted to be on. David Bowie, Paul Weller, Bertrand Russell … who wouldn’t want to join that super-group? Bertrand Russell played the spoons in case you were wondering.

Even people who do accept know that it’s a bit naff. When Helen Mirren was made a Dame she lamented: “My street cred is gone”. That’s why she’s doing those Wii adverts, she has lost all self-respect: next thing you know, she’ll be showing her norks for a fiver round the back of Yates’s Wine Lodge.

We could change the whole set-up of the honours system, so that the intention is not to reward, but to punish and publicly shame. The truly evil would still be punished within the justice system, but the new Dishonours System would highlight people who’ve just been a bit of a dick – Gordon Ramsay, Nick Clegg, the man from the Go Compare advert, that type of thing.

Maybe the easiest and most democratic thing would be simply to give everyone a title and a trip to the palace. The Queen would have to suspend all her other duties, and her knighting arm would get a bit tired but I’d be delighted because otherwise I’ll have to keep getting my hopes up about Pipe Smoker of the Year.

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