Perhaps you heard of Emma Thompson. She is one of those people domiciled in gentrified parts of north London who support public funding for the arts, Greenpeace, global warming and dinner parties. She is – perhaps I might be allowed to coin a double-root neologism to describe her and her ilk – ‘über-sinister’ (it means ultra-left but sounds much more frightening). She is pushing her new film ‘Nany McPhee and the Big Bang’ at the moment. She was once married to the Shakespearean actor Kenneth Brannagh and is currently married to another thespian, Greg Wise. Her mother is actress, Phyllida Law (though she would say actor). Her father was Eric Thompson, most famous for his English script and narration of the French stop-motion puppet show ‘Magic Roundabout’. Her sister is also an actress (-or). If you look Emma up (she is all over Google so I can’t be bothered about a link) you will find that she attended a ‘posh’ London ‘lefty’ public school and Cambridge University. Unfortunately, this seems to have deprived her of an education. Her Wikipedia entry quotes her as misusing the word ‘refute’ in the sense of ‘deny’, but more important was her confusion of the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Man (a bit like confusing Hawaii with Kenya) (that was a jibe, Hawaii and Puerto Rico would be a better analogy).
On a late night chat show she traduced the Isle of Wight. When her host mentioned that he was soon to holiday on an island off the Californian coast “kind of like the Isle of Wight”, Thompson replied: “Oh, so they stone homosexuals there? Nice. I think they are still allowed to flog them, which of course some of them enjoy. I think they are allowed to shoot Irish or Scottish people if they arrive on the island – it is still in the rules. They are allowed to torture people. It’s lovely – you should go.”
The Isle of Wight is part of England. You can see it from Bournemouth beach. English laws apply there. The Isle of Man has never been part of the United Kingdom. It is a self-governing British Crown Dependency (a bit like the Falkland Islands), located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. Among those who were born or brought up there are the Bee Gees, Tour de France stage winner, Mark Cavendish, Nigel Neale, the author of Quatermass, and Frank Kermode, the recently deceased literary critic. Current or recent residents include racing driver Nigel Mansell, Rick Wakeman, the rock musician and Jeremy Clarkson the ‘Top Gear’ presenter. It is a tax haven and its politics are right wing so perhaps a legitimate target for the über-sinister. (The Isle of Wight is Left-of-Centre if anything, having frequently elected a Liberal-Democrat MP, though Queen Victoria did have a house there). Uneducated as Emma is she would be unlikely to know that on the Isle of Man homosexuality was decriminalized in 1992 and use of the birch ended in the 1970s. Shooting Scotsmen is an urban legend, though I believe it is still legal to kill Welshmen if you find one after dark in the English town of Shrewsbury! (or perhaps that's Chester,)
Emma Thompson, I am sure, is a very fine actress having won a couple of Oscars and BAFTAs for both acting and screenwriting. Which only goes to show that a cobbler should stick to his last. Just because actors are in the public eye it doesn't mean that they know anything at all about politics. Not that politicians know much about running a country. The middle verse in the Bible tells us not to put our trust in princes. The same applies to actors, politicians and pop-singers.