Sitting next to the dying embers of the Honduras Rosewood log fire in the Polo Club on Sunday sipping on my Camus Cognac Cuvee 3.128 and reflecting on the sumptuous luncheon of deer fawn stuffed with fois gras that I had just enjoyed; my thoughts turned to a conversation I had recently with Major Wiffington Smythe – Smith and his good lady wife Tilly, about the state of the nation.
Whiffington Smythe-Smith was in reflective mode following the successful purchase of some hounds from a local farmer. During the transaction the farmer had mentioned that he had been forced to sell his beloved beasts as the current economic climate was starting to hit him hard.
Never one to appreciate whining the Major had beaten the Farmer so severely with an Equistar Elan dressage whip- this altercation caused Whiffington Smythe – Smith to reflect on his life as a guardian of decency and all round philanthropist. It was with this in mind that he addressed me.
His premise seemed to me a sound one and was drawn both on personal experience growing up in Giles St.Marty’s on the Wolds and as a health and safety advisor to Saloth Sar in the late seventies.
In essence he said this – that this great country has lost its sense of place in the world order and that the idea that one should do one’s duty within one’s means and whenever possible. He described how, since his retirement from the security service, he now personally volunteered his services for a modest stipend at several Merchant Banks and that he had always allowed his Land Steward and Valet to volunteer their services at the Polo Club on their evening off.
As he got into his stride I recognized that he was describing the Big Society and perhaps for the first time I found myself gaining clarity over the ideology and a new sense of purpose.
‘Doing good’ he said, ‘ is a moral obligation, these people who want paying for volunteering should be shot in the face’ – to maim not kill he emphasized.
He eloquently lectured that true Christian values, philanthropy and solid public school discipline would lead this Marxist ridden den of inequity of a country back to greatness, a new age of discovery and ultimately the re-colonisation of important overseas territories.
His own philanthropic works are well known – he personally instigated the fund raising initiative to re-glaze the Thatcher Memorial Window in the Giles St. Marty Grammar School Lecture Theatre where he also annually presents the Whiffington Family Latin Scholarship Award. His wife Tilly, sits as a Trustee on several local Charity Boards including the local Chamber Music Appreciation Society, the Church Restoration Fund and Help the Poor Cripples and Less Fortunate Foundation (HPCLF) – pointing out that she has never claimed back a penny in expenses.
In a fitting conclusion to his eloquent ruminations he listed several key truths which he felt would help guide and create a climate that empowers local people and communities. He pointed to the fact that deer management through culling does work – that fox hunting wasn’t just vulgar blood letting, but also a lot of fun – that national service hadn’t harmed anyone – that dole scum didn’t need local gyms as this only breeds fitter criminals – that compulsory euthanasia for the over 70s was the answer to the health services budgetary crisis – and that Glen Hoddle’s much derided interpretation of Karma had much merit.
In the distance a horse neighs, a fox screams and a muffled shot from a 12 gauge can be heard, and, as I gently fall into a hazy slumber I feel that I now have the parameters set perchance to dream of a really Big Society.