The Storm of Silvester

Only a few weeks ago I was reading Chris Hadfield’s book ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’. It was inspiring, moving, and an uplifting tale that painted a picture of humankind on the tipping-point of achieving true brilliance; a species capable of working together for the benefit of all, a species ready to embark on the challenge of establishing outposts elsewhere in our solar system. Enlightened. Modern. Going-places.

But of course, that’s just a book. It’s the story of a small bunch of talented and aspirational human beings who are embraced for all they are within a bubble inhabited by free-thinking scientists and eternal optimists. It’s lovely, but it’s not the real world. The real world contains a sizable helping of idiots; lying on the ground screaming, kicking, and having a tantrum whilst the rest of us stride ahead.

I’m always somewhat averse to political discussions because they’re a key indicator as to the performance of a dinner party. A good dinner party will descend into wine-fuelled banter about sexual antics and annecdotes about vomiting in innapropriate places. A dinner party goes sour when a ruddy-faced man begins jabbing the table with an erect finger whilst loudly exclaiming “What this damn government needs to understand is…” Then the disagreements begin. Someone begins to cry, the dessert is eaten in stony silence. The taxis arrive before the After Eight mints.

Thankfully, in the UK we are all free to irritate dinner guests by loudly expressing our political views, or to otherwise piss everyone off by spending half an hour arranging some childish ‘party game’ that no one wanted to bloody play in the first place. In fact, politically speaking, we have no qualms about expressing what useless turds some of our civil servants can be. Of course, it’s only fair that the same right is extended to the other side: politicians allowed to express their thoughts about their fellow citizens.

David Sylvester is a politician who – horrified by the government’s recent move toward marriage equality – defected from the Conversatives to UKIP. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Silvester warned of divine retribution for the recent introduction of marriage-equality laws. Yes, a plague of locusts, floods et al. So, when floods affected many parts of the country in recent weeks there was only one thing for Sylvester to do – have a self-congratulatory rant in his local rag expressing that ‘the gays’ were responsible for the flooding, and that the government had directly offended God. Yes, David. I can see your line of thinking there old chap, stay for an After Eight mint won’t you? Global climate change? Pah!

Writing as a gay man I can’t say that I’m offended by Silvester’s letter, nor even his later radio appearance where he expressed that he actually loves gay people. In fact, given the opportunity, he’d cure all of us of our niggling affliction. Nope, not offended, I’m merely strangely amused by him – and thankfully the common consensus of the population supports that. Silvester is part of that old-school generation who describe shades of shoe polish by reference to skin-tone. He is a man to mock and ignore, as you would an elderly relative who inadvertently peppers dinner conversations with casual racism.

I’ll get your coat David – it looks like there’s a storm brewing.

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