I have always enjoyed clothes but could never claim to be in the least interested in fashion. I love dressing up and I deplore dressing down. Give me a chance to wear a dinner jacket or tails and I will be there. Ask me to wear jeans, plimsolls (called “trainers” by many) and a T-shirt and I will quietly decline.
Jeans may be good to wear for gardening, plumbing or plastering but certainly not for going out to dinner or the theatre. Plimsolls are shockingly bad for the feet. I am totally the wrong shape for a T-shirt and why men – and, increasingly, women – choose to expose a beer belly to the world when a good jacket would conceal it a little baffles me.
While I enjoy a rant about dress sense and modern tastes, I need to add my total revulsion to tattoos and to ironmongery planted in the face. The growing number of women sporting tattoos stupefies me. Not so long ago, tattoos were confined to sailors, soldiers and slags. Clearly the world has changed but I am not convinced it is for the better. When I have to go shopping and, thank goodness, the internet makes this challenging experience increasingly rare, I positively avoid a check-out sporting someone heavy with facial ironmongery.
Having said all of that, let me return to the news item that sparked off this blog. I see our Prime Minister is in trouble for refusing to don a T-shirt bearing a feminist logo. Well done, DC! I don’t often agree with your (frequently tieless) dress sense or your modernising political views but, in this case, I think you have got it dead right. I support the right of women to equal pay and to equal opportunities and I have consistently promoted this view while in public service. However, I strongly oppose positive discrimination which is frankly insulting to women and to men and I dislike the in-your-face style of arch feminists like Harriet Harman ( or should it be Harperson?). Having said all of that, the joke appears to be on Messrs Miliband and Clegg who agreed to wear the feminist T-shirt only to learn that it is manufactured in some dreadful foreign sweat shop by workers who are paid a pittance!
It is the same with the gay rights brigade. I am not greatly interested in a person’s sexual preference but I do dislike the in-your-face style of the more vigorous campaigners for the so-called LGBT community (which I think means “lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender”!). You will certainly never see me on a Gay Pride march and certainly not sporting a T-shirt, jeans and trainers.
So let me address a rumour that has been put about that I have a misogynist attitude to women in high office. This could not be more wrong. In my eleven years as Leader of the Council, I enjoyed a first class professional working relationship with my Chief Executive, Joanna Simons. I was delighted to have been involved in nominating her for her CBE which she richly deserved. I also had a first class working relationship with senior council officers who happened to be ladies as well as with Sarah Thornton (Chief Constable), Janet Beer (Vice Chancellor of Brookes University), Sally Dicketts (Chief Executive of the Oxford & Cherwell College where I was a long term governor) and Debbie Dance (Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust where I was a trustee). To suggest that I am adverse to women aspiring to the highest rank is a total nonsense and I resent the suggestion.