Claire Rayner and other icons

I cannot let this sad news pass without comment. A truly good, kind and altruistic person, Claire Rayner OBE passed away over the weekend. For the international readers of this blog, you may not know who she was. For my UK readers, you will remember her for her forthright, down-to-earth-warmth, tell it like it is, sage attitude to life. A true pioneer of medicine and healthcare systems, she was a trained nurse and midwife, probably best remembered in the UK for her Agony Aunt columns and Wings Adverts, but she was a humanist and a humanitarian, in the true sense of the word. I loved this article written in the 1990s, you can tell it had an impact on me, I remembered it, googled it and found it to add to here for you twenty years later. Supporting endless charities, her final words have been released by her family: “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him.”

But I prefer this quote about the Pope: “I have no language with which to adequately describe Joseph Alois Ratzinger, AKA the Pope. In all my years as a campaigner I have never felt such animus against any individual as I do against this creature. His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us, that the only thing to do is to get rid of him.”

Amen to that. (And yes, I get the irony in that statement). The world is a better place for Claire Rayner having been in it, but can the same be said of a man who hid, conspired and moved paedophiles around the Catholic Church so they could abuse children again, and again, and again? Is the world a better place? I don’t think so, his consistent refusal to accept that the fundamental beliefs in the Christian Church is loving everyone as an equal extends to women priests, LBGT people, disabled and special needs and don’t get me started on the complete and utter bullshit the Catholic Church spreads about condoms spreading AIDS and HIV. Yes you did read that right. Stephen Fry says it far better than I can; here, here and, of course, the glorious Hitch at the same debate here and here.

Sadly for me, I am reaching an age where icons in my life that have guided and directed me from my teenage years onwards are slowly departing these shores for elsewhere. Maybe that was why I got emotional seeing the pictures of the unveiling of Ronnie Barker’s statue with David Jason and Ronnie Corbett flanking his bronze presence? The last time I saw them all together was for the BAFTA tribute, which was filmed a year before he passed away. This video was recorded from the TV, (complete with announcer telling you that Eddie Murphy is coming up), but Ronnie’s simple, open and emotional thank you speech still gets me. Life does come down to luck, and what you make of it.

Forgive me for litter bombing this post with links to videos and pictures, but sometimes words fail me. Particularly when I am angry, or sad. I am both tonight. Sad that Claire Rayner has passed, because there is no-one shining like the beacon of clarity she was at all now, I can’t imagine any of the female ‘icons’ of today in the UK being as inspiring. Colleen, Cheryl et al. I am angry that a country I love will again be decimated by the Conservatives, in the name of budget cuts. Far deeper and far worse than their past Mary Poppins, Margaret Thatcher. Again it is people on benefits who need the welfare state that will lose out, while the tax exiles that flit about from the Isle of Man and Monaco and back again get off scott free. Look at the top end, not the bottom end, shouldn’t the money come from those who can afford it, and who mostly created the shit hole we’re left with through pure greed? Not those who are left up the creek without a paddle. But then, that is the socialist ethos isn’t it? Looking after everyone? David Tennant on Woman’s Hour last week was great fun, living in Scotland through Margaret Thatcher’s rape and pillage of the country, he wondered how on earth anyone could vote Conservative. When they’ve finished with annihilating the parts of the UK that can’t afford to be cut, I will wonder too.

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