Such an honour.

When I was a child I starred as Aslan in a school production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the local village hall. Imagine my delight then, when this performance was recognised in the New Year Honour list. I mean, I was rather good in my home made lion outfit and an inch of sticky make up, but for the Queen to retrospectively award me an MBE for “services to the theatre” is such a thrill. I suppose it is a reflection of just how many lives that production really touched and how many people I inspired to follow in my hallowed footsteps. G B Hewitt MBE. Has a nice ring to it. But it hasn’t stopped there. I had all but forgotten the time I came second in the 3000 metres at a sports day in 1992, but clearly someone out there remembered just what a great achievement that was and saw it fit to award me an OBE for “services to nearly running as fast as the person in front”. G B Hewitt MBE OBE. I mean, it’s quite embarrassing really. What’s that? No! Oh my gosh. A knighthood! What, for me? For when I gave 50p to a tramp in the centre of Leicester? But that was nothing, honestly. A knighthood for “services to charity” ma’am! I am truly honoured. Sir G B Hewitt MBE OBE. Whatever next?

This morning they published the New Year Honours list and as usual there was a heavy spread of luvvies, people who do sport, hand wringing sycophants, failed politicians and everyone in the category named – who the hell are they? It must be very hard to judge who gets these awards; some of them are doubtless richly deserved, some others are bordering on a joke and the rest are actually a joke. Take the Covid boffins, for instance. I know they’ve been quite helpful but surely we should wait until the dust has properly settled before throwing knighthoods at Prof Chris Whitty and Prof Jean Claude Van-Tam? It doesn’t feel as if we’re quite out of the woods yet and so it wouldn’t hurt to wait a while longer. As for a knighthood for Tony Blair, well given his haunting legacy in some areas I really can’t see why he deserves much at all. Perhaps a scalding cup of coffee on his lap would be more appropriate.

I was surprised to hear Joanna Lumley has been made a dame, but purely because with all her gushing and goshing and national treasure status I assumed she’d been made a dame about 30 years ago. So she gets that, while June Brown is awarded an OBE for “services to EastEnders and nicotine”, at the age of 94. I wonder how long she’ll have left to enjoy that thrill. On top of that some kid I’ve never heard of has been thrown a British Empire Medal for sleeping in a tent for 600 nights in a row, but it is for charidee so I’d better stop there. And let’s not forget about those people who do the sport. For falling off a diving board in a controlled manner and appearing half naked in newspaper supplements Tom ‘taking your time’ Daley gets a big fat OBE, though officially its for “diving, LGBTQ+ rights and charity”. Kind of like a Duke Of Edinburgh Award then. Oddly, his diving partner, Matty Lee, gets an MBE, which will serve him right for only being bothered to service one thing at a time. Jason and Laura Kenny are knighted and damed (is that a word?) for “services to cycling”, which sounds dafter every time you read it, and then we come to Emma Raducanu who is made MBE, and I know this will split opinion but something in my heart tells me that’s not right. That said, I have yet to win my first grand slam so perhaps it’s just the hangover talking.

I think the public should vote on the honours list next year. Some of these honours are spot on but others seem to be given out to fat chums of whoever the Prime Minister is on a given day. So a public vote might be a much fairer way. You could almost turn it into a gameshow of some kind, but I’ll need to have a think about how that would work. I know a couple of people who have been honoured over the years and I know for sure they worked very hard, and more importantly that they weren’t ever working for the honour itself. In the end one must take these things with a pinch of salt, and not in the hope you may end up with a CBE for “services to taking things with a pinch of salt”. And besides, no-one cares what I think, especially when I’ve got a New Year’s Day headache. Perhaps I’ll go for a walk and be recognised for my “services to getting a breath of fresh air”. I’ve heard of sillier things.

G B Hewitt. 01.01.2022

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