This stern sentinel is a mighty container of memory. It is not, however, a place of hushed reverence – except on Remembrance Sunday. How can it be, located as it is on a busy street in the heart of a capital city? If the Cenotaph were in a military cemetery or on a battlefield site, it might be possible to preserve decorum around it. Instead, it stands on Whitehall. This white sepulchre is there to remind us of the lost as we go about our business – a stopped heartbeat in the hubbub. But that’s not enough to stop the wave of complaint that led broadcaster Chris Evans to apologise for a stunt filmed for Top Gear on his radio show on Monday morning. Evans unequivocally said he was sorry for a scene in which Matt LeBlanc drives a fast car near the monument. “Retrospectively, it was unwise to be anywhere near the Cenotaph with this motor car,” said Evans. How long did he have to rehearse those words to be able to say them without laughing?Gosh! A CiF column in which Top Gear’s irreverence and ‘anything goes for ratings’ approach isn’t lambasted for being offensive?
Top Gear can’t possibly have intended this offence, which surely exists only in the imaginations of a few excessively sensitive souls.Hang on, I thought Perceived ‘Guardian’ Wisdom® was that offence was in the eye of the beholder?
And that one cannot claim one’s complainer to be ‘overly sensitive’ or that merely compounds the offence?
Is this thoroughfare now to become a no-man’s land, where pedestrians must be hushed and all traffic banned? Are tourists to be prevented from taking pictures of the Horse Guards lest they “disrespect” the nearby Cenotaph?Is anyone even suggesting this?
Liberty means taking liberties. Whitehall needs to be desecrated from time to time precisely because it is the heart of government.Ah. In other words, ‘I’m quite in favour of you horrible oiks who revere Remembrance Day and like to see all the pomp & circumstance frothing at the mouth, so I’ll overlook the fact that the people who are doing it are the racist, sexist, knuckledragging morons I’d otherwise see put in stocks for enlightened folks like me to sneer at’…