Lady Susan Hussey, what’s she like?! One minute she’s offering advice on how to eat an apple properly or how to float out of a room backwards and the next she’s abusing a black stranger. Typical, really. This, after all, is the woman who became the Queen’s longest serving lady in waiting, which therefore surely qualifies her as one of the least in touch with the real world human beings in the history of human beings. She’s a walking institutionalisation. An ancient lizard. A bizarre anachronism. A fragment of yesteryear that somehow survived, to be found hovering over a crustless cucumber sandwich at a garden party that started in 1924. If anyone in Britain today could be defined as an boundless irrelevance it must surely be Lady Susan Hussey. And yet here she is, filling our headlines as she sits at home and tries to work out what use anyone could ever find for YouTube or crotchless panties. Her time is up. Her 15 minutes of fame have come at exactly the wrong time and for absolutely the worst reason. Oh well.
It seems that Queen Consort Camilla held a bit of a shindig the other day and in a moment that would never have ever happened at any other time, ever, Lady Susan Hussey found herself talking to one Ngozi Fulani. It could have turned out to be a perfectly civil conversation if it weren’t for the fact that Hussey was born in 1878 and that Fulani is not only black but is also the boss of a domestic violence charity called Sistah Space. Rarely have two so mismatched planets become so disastrously aligned. After all, Hussey comes from a generation of women for whom domestic violence was often considered a mid-week ritual, and in turn whose exposure to strong black women would have been limited to safari holidays and the downstairs help. Hussey won’t have completed many race awareness courses or been part of any role play exercises titled: ‘What To Do When You Have To Talk To Someone You Initially Assumed Was Serving Canapes And Wearing An Exotic Hat’. For poor old Hussey windrush is just something that happens when you stand at the end of Eastbourne pier on a blustery day. She’s had decades to forget how to be down to earth in front of anyone she might describe as common, by which I mean anyone who isn’t in the royal family.
But then, on the other hand, you can sort of see what she was asking. She may have been profoundly tactless about the whole thing, and she could have worded and directed her questions in an infinitely better way, but her goal was fairly straight forward: to find out where Fulani was from. Not how she got here or to question her qualifications as a British citizen (though that is a supplementary accusation) but simply to identify where she could trace her heritage back to. To where, surely, at some point, many years ago her distant family could be traced. Quite why it mattered to Hussey at that point in time may remain a mystery forever. Perhaps she was bored. Perhaps she was feeling a smidge superior. Perhaps she was just trying to be friendly but found it hard to get that across because she’s a stuck up, privileged, culturally ignorant, nosy old cow. Whatever it was she was trying to do she made a right royal fuck up of it, without a shadow of a doubt. But was it, as Fulani suggests, flat out “abuse”? I’m not convinced that’s the right word. She could have at least started her reply by suggest Hussey get, as they say, stuffed.
Without wishing to dig myself into a hole (only to find that Lady Susan Hussey is already there, muttering to herself that while she reluctantly concedes that we may all ultimately be African, some Africans are more African than others) I would suggest instead that Ngozi Fulani, albeit as traumatised as she clearly feels she should be, might remember that Hussey is a fucking idiot and that while she may have resigned and will soon be fast-tracked to a dementia ward, there are literally millions more like her out there and there will be millions more to come. This, alas, is a battle that might be won, but in a war that never can be. Her godson, Prince William, no doubt bamboozled with embarrassment over this matter, has hurried to stoutly declare that “racism has no place in our society”, but he’s flat wrong. You see, there is always a place for racism in our society and the place for it is anywhere you find a racist.
Society can clamour for as much fairness and tolerance as it wants but the unrepentant racist never attends those meetings and nor do they apologise, and they never worry that one day they might suddenly turn round and realise they were wrong. Like it or not we need these racists, the shameless, the blatant and the bubbling under, just like we need misogynists and fundamentalists and homophobes. They may not be nice and they may leave a nasty taste in the mouth but without them we wouldn’t have anything to complain about; and where would we be if that happened? The good can’t thrive without something to look better than. You can’t wipe out racism any more than you can wipe out salt or sand or stupidity. It will always be there, as long as there is more than one colour and more than one creed. In a few weeks’ time Hussey will be forgotten and Ngozi Fulani will most likely be offered an apology damehood, for the inconvenience and to stem a crimson clot of royal guilt. And so the world will keep on turning and stupidity will keep on coming in waves. And it shall not stop, regardless of where it came from in the first place; not that where anything comes from ever really matters. Except when it does, of course.
G B Huss-in-boots. 01.12.2022