Now is the time to cast a glance over a year drawing to a close and repent any sins one has committed. In that spirit, though I’m incapable of emulating St Francis’s saintliness, I’m adopting even as we speak his penitent pose, as depicted by Zurbarán. So, in no particular order:
Several times over the past 12 months I’ve enjoyed a cocktail called Negroni, a mixture of gin, red vermouth and Campari. Yet never once did I stop to think of how criminally racist the drink’s name is.
That is doubtless a symptom of unconscious bias, and I am deeply sorry. Anyway, the cocktail is bright red, not black. So why give it that offensive name if not for the beastly purpose of expressing implicit racism?
By way of redemption I propose that this drink be henceforth called Uguaglianza, which is the Italian for Equality – and that every bar using the old name be summarily closed and ideally razed.
Now, my heart is racing and my throat feels constricted, but I have to make this next admission. On numerous occasions this year I’ve revealed my subcutaneous racism by using words like niggardly, niggling and renege.
Also, even though I’m aware of how offensive certain words can be even in seemingly innocuous contexts, I’ve callously neglected to replace apes and monkeys with simians, bananas with curved yellow tropical fruit, coconut with the fruit of the palm tree, spade with shovel (as in ‘call a shovel a shovel’) and watermelon with a Cucurbitaceae, a much safer word, though not easy to pronounce. I apologise unreservedly.
Then earlier in the year I wrote that President Macron of France had decreed that the French national anthem La Marseillaise be replaced with the hymn O Come Emmanuel. It turns out my friend Manny never did any such thing, and neither does he have any intention of ever doing so, much as he would like to. I apologise to him, France and anyone whose religious feelings I might have offended.
And, following today’s fashion, I apologise on behalf of Western civilisation for bringing our planet to the verge of extinction, using scientific and technological progress as a lame excuse.
I also apologise on behalf of all those who insist on citing irrelevant statistics, such as those comparing our life expectancy now, at the time of the wholesale rape of the planet by science, industry and intensive agriculture, and in the morally impeccable old days, when energy was produced by muscle, wave and wind.
Trust those materialists to point out that we now live twice as long. They don’t realise that what matters isn’t the length of life, but its moral quality.
In this connection, I’d also like to apologise to Greta Thunberg, whom I have on several occasions inadvertently called retarded, evil, hysterical and generally mad. I now know she’s a brilliant, saintly young woman ideally suited to lead the world towards extinct…, sorry, I mean excellence.
I also apologise to no one in particular for driving a car powered by a 3-litre diesel engine.
By way of extenuation, I’ve proposed to Penelope on several occasions that we replace that offensive vehicle with a tandem bicycle. However, she has vetoed this environmentally responsible shift, saying that if I want to cycle all the way to France, I’m welcome to do so. She’ll be driving that planet-killer come what may. I’ll continue to work on her, but knowing how bloody-minded she can get, I’m not holding my breath.
Even though no one has authorised me to speak for our whole civilisation, I’ll still take this opportunity to apologise for its racist, colonialist past. Especially objectionable is Britain’s pathetic excuse for it, so-called liberal interventionism. Far from being liberal, all such interventionism was criminal and none was necessary.
After all, we can see how well all African countries are doing at present, now they are free of the trammels of Western colonialism. Those who point out that over 10 million people have been murdered in Central Africa over the past few decades are inveterate racists, and I apologise for them humbly.
Also I can’t help noticing that animal proteins have featured prominently in my 2020 diet. I apologise unequivocally for this barbaric carnivorism. Only consuming naturally grown grasses, nuts and tree bark would obviate the need for apology, and I hope to do better next year, although honesty prevents my issuing any ironclad guarantees.
Finally I apologise to the NHS which I have been known to besmirch. Far from being the unwieldy socialist Leviathan I called it so many times, it’s the paragon of efficiency, fairness and equality, the envy of every country in His creation. If they aren’t falling over themselves trying to imitate it, I apologise for their tardiness in seeing the light.
Having got that burden off my chest, I wish you all a happy, or at least happier, New Year. And if your 2020 wasn’t entirely ecstatic, I’m genuinely sorry.