AS the great and the good of Our Wee Pravince beam for the cameras after being included on this year’s Queen’s Corgi’s Birthday Honours List – or Spot the Catholic, as it’s known in West Belfast – Squinter wonders how he can elbow his way into this exalted company.
Turns out the best way to find out how the British honours system really works is not to go to the Buckingham Palace website, but rather to the website of one of the companies who make a living out of making sure you get your nominee a gong. Yes, that’s right, if you’re really keen for your guy or gal to get a knighthood, an MBE, an OBE, or whatever else is going, there are guns for hire whose job it is to let you know what buttons to push – as well as how to push them and how hard – when you’re filling in that all-important nomination form.
Now you’d like to think, wouldn’t you, that these things would kind of work themselves out naturally and on, ah, merit. There’s the CV, there’s the nominating letter, there are the letters of support, just leave it to the judging committee to make the right choices. But not a bit of it – if you’re willing to come across with the spondulicks, not only can you have your nomination letter drafted for you, but letters of support can also be supplied for the relevant supporters to sign. Apparently the director of one such company has been awarded an OBE for services to literature.
So Squinter has made that all-important first move and asked a close pal to contact one of these honours companies with a view to submitting an application that the Hooray Henrys on the queen’s honours committee simply can’t ignore. But first things first. Which honour should Squinter be aiming at? Let’s go through the choices, with a tip of the cap to directgov.uk for the technical info.
Companion of Honour
This is awarded for “a pre-eminent and sustained contribution in the arts, science, medicine or government”, which on first glance would appear to rule Squinter out. But a quick look back over his body of work will reveal that the arts, science, medicine and government all feature regularly on this page, and frequently in the same article.
Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
This one’s for “a pre-eminent contribution in any field of activity (usually at a national level)” and so, since the Andytown News is not widely read in Chipping Norton or Auchtermuchty, this column is unlikely to be renamed ‘Sir Squinter’ anytime soon. But the rules say that a Knighthood may be awarded to one whose “contribution is felt at a national level”. Squinter knows for a fact that his phrase All-Day Pyjama Syndrome has won a place in the online bible of modern language urban
dictionary.com A knighthood for services to brushed-cotton nightwear and fluffy mules – that’d have to be a first.
Commander of the British Empire
“This rewards a prominent national role of a lesser degree…” If a knighthood is indeed a bridge too far – at this stage, at least – then it might make sense for Squinter to lower his sights to around this level, this lesser level.
Order of the British
Clearly, we’re starting to see the bottom of the barrel, if we’re not actually scraping it yet, for this is a lesser, lesser level since it’s beneath the ‘lesser’ CBE. The abandoning of any pretence of elitism has begun and the catchment area for the OBE is widened to include, well, just about anyone. “This rewards a distinguished regional or county-wide role in any field…” If Squinter’s not in with a chance in this one – especially with a high-priced professional doing his lobbying for him – then he might as well pack it in
Member of the British
We’re down to “community service” now as we arrive at the award which traditionally patronises dinner ladies and lollipop men. Squinter has instructed his paid professionals that under no circumstances will he accept an MBE because – and let’s be absolutely frank here – when people see those letters after your name they don’t mentally bow or curtsey, they immediately think Minor Bureaucrat Endorsed, or Maladjusted But Effective or… (that’s enough, Ed).