Dear Miss Ann Noreen Widdecombe, Privy Councillor, novelist and former MP for Maidstone,
I read with interest today the reports of the speech you made at the anti-equal marriage fringe event at the Conservative Party conference this week. You were there with your friend, George Carey, to whom I wrote a little letter of thanks a few days ago, and you seem to have had a jolly old time doing what you do best: lambasting people for their wrongdoing. I really must congratulate you on being able to do this so excellently, seemingly day in day out. You are a veritable mistress in your field (so to speak). It never ceases to amaze me that you can lambast on such a wide spread of topics, ranging from abortion, through women priests and the death penalty (two separate issues) to gay rights. Some people might say that holding such strong opinions on so many contentious topics and broadcasting those opinions across every possible form of media at every possible opportunity could result in you looking a little foolish, especially when you don’t know very much about the topic in question, but not me! I say go for it. Remember, Ann, no matter how stupid you sound, someone stupider will always listen to you (in addition to George).
Now, that’s enough of my sycophancy. I can tell you’re a ‘no nonsense’ type of gal and that people fawning over your mighty lambasting skills would receive short shrift, or possibly a swift backhander, or be sent to the gallows to hang until their necks snapped and they died in writhing agony, if they fawned over you in person, so, in fear of my life, I’ll stop the compliments there and get to the reason why I have decided to write to you. You see, Annie – do you mind if I call you Annie? I find Ann without an E so brutal and heartless, like an ageing woman flogging the dead horse beneath her in a desperate desire to rejoin the party that’s rapidly leaving her behind – you see, Annie, I’m a little tired of life of late and I’ve been thinking of making a change, a career change. But what to do? I could, as you did at the tender age of 40, go into politics, but people who do that often end up crashing and burning and resort to going on cheap reality TV dancing shows and the like that make them look pretty ridiculous, or end up writing cheap and nasty novels with inane titles like The Sycamore Tree, so that’s not really for me. No, I’m not one for politics, but there is something you do that I have decided I would like to do too. I would like to become a professional lambaster!
I too want to lecture people constantly that what they are doing, and believing, is wrong. I too want to write a weekly column for a trashy ‘news’paper in which I make provocative and unsubstantiated statements that sound unhinged and batty. I too want to castigate people for doing things that I don’t believe are right, however inoffensive and harmless their actions may be. I too want to lambast, and I know you’re the woman to help me!
From a study of some of your finest work, I have been able to generate a list of advice that anyone wishing to become a professional lambaster like you should follow, and I’d be very grateful if you would cast your eye over it to see if I’ve covered all of the salient points.
To be a professional lambaster, you must:
1. Be very loud.
2. Suffer fools with no amount of gladness whatsoever.
3. Remember that everyone who disagrees with you is a fool.
4. Find one main topic to lambast people about (This MUST be in the area of gay rights and, preferably, should be the subject of ‘marriage equality’, however, the topics of ‘teaching school children that homosexuality is normal’ and ‘showing gay kisses pre-watershed’ are acceptable alternatives).
5. Ensure that you have little or no experience of the main topic about which you choose to lambast. So, for example, if (as is HIGHLY recommended) you choose to lambast professionally about the right of gay people to marry, ensure that you yourself know very little about marriage, have never been married and have little or no experience of being in a relationship. In this way, the professional lambaster can remain assured that he/she will never be swayed by his/her own personal feelings of empathy and understanding. Because they have none.
6. Have a range of other topics about which you are able to lambast in order to ensure that you never swing too far to the left to be considered soft and caring. Suitable topics are: the death penalty (you must be in favour of it) and abortion (you must be against it).
7. Never let anyone take you too seriously.
8. Always take yourself immensely seriously.
So, Annie, how’s that? Have I covered everything, or can you think of anything else? I’d really appreciate your advice as I think you’re the best in your field.
Just before I go, I’d just like to raise a little concern I have about entering the world of professional lambasting. I do hope you can put my mind at rest. Looking at the list of advice above, I’m wondering If I can still become a professional lambaster if I can’t actually do numbers one to nine? You see I can be loud when I want to be, but I find there’s nothing worse than someone who harrumphs around being loud for the sake of it. It’s just annoying. And I do suffer fools with relative gladness because we’re all foolish from time to time and I hope that someone would suffer me gladly when I slipped up and did something stupid. And I find that sometimes when people disagree with me it’s because they have genuinely good reasons for doing so and, even though they might think I’m wrong, they don’t try and force me to think like them or force an unfair or religious-based view on an entire country. And I actually think that marriage equality is a great thing, and that teaching school children that homosexuality is normal is fantastic, and that showing a gay kiss or two on TV before 9pm is beneficial to society. And I don’t really have a lot of right-wing views I can shout at people about: I hate the death penalty in all circumstances and think the abortion laws we have are well-thought out and decent. And, finally, I like it when people take me seriously and I always try to take myself as unseriously as possible.
Oh dear, this is a bit awkward. It looks like maybe I’m not cut out to be a professional lambaster like you, after all. And I was SO sure I could be good at it! Darn it. I guess I’ll be leaving you to reap your just rewards. There’s clearly only room for one portly, ageing woman in M&S print and sensible shoes to lambast her way across Britain, and it’s not me.
I wish you well, Annie, and look forward to hearing more from you on the main lambasting topic of choice in the future.
Just a heads-up, though…equal marriage is coming, it really is, and not too long into the future either. You might want to pick a new lambasting topic soon. You know, one you can start working on, get it warmed up ready for the inevitable day when I’m walking down the aisle with my husband (I think that’s what I’ll call him; not progenitor or carer, as you seem to fear we’ll have to call each other) and you’ve nothing left to lambast about. Why not try the topic of ‘universal female suffrage’? That’d be a really contentious one and you’d get on lots of TV shows if you lambasted women about that. Food for thought!
Anyways, take care. And happy lambasting!