From an iconic English poet to steam trains.. it seems nothing is safe from the 'woke brigade'/ Dave Thomas column

I’d done my morning walk, 6,000 steps up and down the local canal.

Dave Thomas resorted to consoling himself with cake and biscuits after reading about more victims of the 'woke' brigade
Dave Thomas resorted to consoling himself with cake and biscuits after reading about more victims of the 'woke' brigade

It was time for coffee and a relaxing read of the papers when I got home. All was going well; it was the usual stuff, climate change, Boris, Tory sleaze, covid statistics, Irish Protocol tensions, Joe Biden, channel migrants,

energy prices, shortages of Walkers crisps, Harry and Meghan.

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All the usual cheery stuff.

I’d decided not to have a large slice of cake with the coffee. Perhaps I should have done and been a bit more relaxed, because I found something that made me annoyed. And being annoyed is something I am trying to erase from my daily routine. Not even appalling refereeing against Crystal Palace the other week had managed to work me up.

It was because I came across something at which I had to look twice. Which of us has not read a Wordsworth poem every now and then? Which of us has not read the poem about daffodils? You know how it goes.

“A host of golden daffodils, Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

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William Wordsworth, an icon of English Literature. But the Woke brigade were onto him. Woke is an adjective meaning 'alert to racial prejudice.'

He and his sister rented a cottage in the Lake District, and the person from whom they rented it, had links (allegedly) to slavery. Guilty by association therefore, and the wokists demanded that an explanatory note be made part of the cottage tour.

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Ah well, I sipped my coffee, wondered if indeed I should have a slice of cake, and read on. Oh dear, next on the list was the painter, Thomas Gainsborough, now on the ‘related to slavery’ list, compiled by the National Gallery, because he painted portraits of families whose wealth came from slavery.

Guilty by association again, poor bloke.

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On the same page was a report that the Cambridge Union had drawn up a list of speakers it would never invite to their debates again. ‘Cancelled’ just like that, because they have views that the 'snowflake' student president had decreed are offensive. They changed their mind when John Cleese made fun of it.

At this point I did raid the cake tin in need of munchy support and chewy relief from all this claptrap.

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But there was no respite. There was no place that was safe from all this holier-than-thou, moral superiority, with woke judgments based on being offended by things that happened centuries ago.

And on and on we go. Statues are taken down. Libraries and schools are renamed. Lecturers and professors are ‘outed’, some of them hounded out of their jobs. What a depressing page of reading this was. And God help you, if you say the wrong thing about transgender and non-binary.

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By now I felt like a second slice of cake, but resisted the temptation.

But what next did I find? That not even the steam train is innocent of slavery links, and worse still, imperialism.

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Imperialism, that dreaded word, the march of the Colonial British through the untamed world, claiming land, subduing populations, forcing themselves on India and Africa. Yep, guilty enough. But all this was generations ago and it’s the way things were. History in fact.

Do we need to apologise for things that happened centuries ago? I did not have a second slice of cake. I had a

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Hobnob instead. Imperialism flourished with the help of the steam train. The romance of the steam train. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and all that.

So: the steam train is now tainted. These miracles of mechanical engineering, were simply vehicles for the exploitation of other lands, and the National Railway Museum in York has begun studies with York University to investigate links between steam trains and that dreaded word, colonialism.

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Ask any Indian historian what is the greatest thing the British did in India and what is their legacy, and they will surely say, they built the railways. That probably won’t matter to the wokists.

So, what next then? Thomas the Tank Engine to be re-written for the new woke world?

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It wouldn’t surprise me.