We are gathered here today to mark the sad passing of Common Sense. He was cut down long before his time; his life snuffed out by the two demons of our age: Political Correctness and Health and Safety.
Today, as we sit here together in contemplation, looking back through the mists of time, we find ourselves wondering, “Did we remember to thank Common Sense enough?” For all the times he stood alongside us, protecting us from the ridiculous vagaries, not only of Political Correctness, but Political Preposterousness. Who can forget his valiant fight when Political Preposterousness wanted to prevent the British press from reporting on the cash-for-honours case in 2007, while simultaneously refusing to tell the press what it was they were being prevented from reporting. Brave too was his fight when the European Parliament, beset with a severe case of Political Correctness, introduced proposals to outlaw titles stating marital status, such as “Miss” and “Mrs”, so as not to cause offence. Good old Common Sense was outraged, and managed to win the day just in the nick of time, before “Madame” and “Mademoiselle”, “Frau” and “Fraulein”, “Señora” and “Señorita”, were banned from all public places.
Common Sense was forced to up his game, however, when Political Correctness and Political Preposterousness joined forces in 2008. Their combined efforts resulted in Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in Kent, banning the term “brainstorming” and replacing it with the phrase “thought showers”. By way of response, I suggested that Common Sense should inform Tunbridge Wells Borough Council that he had had a go at a thought shower and had decided that whoever decided to replace brainstorming with such a nonsensical term, must have been inebriated beyond the exuberant confines of their own perspicacity. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council declined to comment.
It appeared that Common Sense was winning the war. However, just when we, and all our fellow Common Sense supporters were planning our celebrations, the news came through that a school in Seattle had renamed its Easter Eggs “Spring Spheres”, in order to avoid offending anyone who didn’t celebrate Easter. This, sadly, proved too much for Common Sense to bear. As he pointed out, not only was the renaming unnecessary, but an egg is not spherical, but elliptical!
Browbeaten by the ludicrous litany of examples of Political Correctness and Political Preposterousness getting drunk on their own absurdity, the heart of Common Sense, sadly, could take no more. And so, dear friends, we find ourselves here today, and we realise that no, we did not thank Common Sense enough. And now it is too late.
This, of course, is a purely whimsical, hypothetical funeral speech. Yet, I for one, would like to do away with Political Preposterousness and preserve our beloved Common Sense, if only For Posterity.
Common Sense is there for us in all our every day lives. How many times have we seen a hole in the ground, one without a cordon around it, and thought, “Shall I step into that?” At that precise moment, Common Sense steps in and reminds us that our parents raised us not to be idiots. He is there too, when we are told by some nannying, officious jobsworth that we cannot have toothpicks on a public dinner table because they have sharp points and we may hurt ourselves (this actually happened at a council dinner). Similarly, Common Sense races to the rescue when some poor sensitive soul argues that the classic British pudding known as Spotted Dick, should henceforth be known as “Spotted Richard”. This poor, unenlightened soul appears to be suggesting that the word “dick” in Spotted Dick is both a shortened form of the given name Richard, while simultaneously a slang term for the male appendage; thus it is so confusing that the name should be changed to avoid offending people, who (1) probably have no idea why they’re supposed to be offended anyway, and (2) are no longer twelve and so don’t find the word dick amusing. Common Sense tells us that the word “dick” in Spotted Dick actually comes from the shortened Old English name for pudding: puddick. Therefore, unless you are a man named Richard, who not only hates being called Dick, but has an appendage shaped like a puddick, you’ve no reason to be offended, concerned or embarrassed.
In short, we need Common Sense, not just for posterity, but to ensure that neither Political Correctness nor Political Preposterousness ever win. We need it too, to ensure that over officious Health and Safety Execs are kept in their place, and to prevent overly sensitive creatures from imposing their vicarious offence upon us.