Got a bounce in my step this morning. Just heard on the news about the Queen's birthday honours list (which is issued, I think, three times a year - as recommended by the Prime Minister at the time). Three names jump out at me who are well worthy to be so recognised:-
The lovely, talented and still-young actress, Sophie Okenedo
The American writer/commentator Bonnie Greer - always acutely and eloquently perceptive.
The young astro-physicist Professor Brian Cox - left-leaning atheist whose boyish enthusiasm and cheeky charm has rapidly endeared himself to us on our TV screens over just the last couple of years. When the time comes for the revered Richard Dawkins to hang up his clogs, Cox would be a worthy successor - and could well win his laurels by being the primary hate-figure of all those pesky God-botherers. One can but hope.
Of course being 'honoured' with the title of 'Member/Order/Companion of the British Empire' these days carries an absurd incongruity (what Empire?). Even when there was an Empire to speak of, it was hardly something to be proud of - but nowadays everyone recognises it's just a symbolic recognition of excellence.
Before Tony Blair such awards were largely confined to crusty old retired politicians and entertainers - the notable exception was the Beatles being awarded M.B.E.s in the mid 1960s, which saw significant numbers of retired army-majors and generals etc returning their honours in disgust. But then a few years later John Lennon returned his own anyway.
Even if I myself had achieved something in public life which had been considered worthy of being recognised by a title (ah, if only!) I don't think I'd have felt comfortable accepting it. There have, indeed, been quite a number of high-profile refusals, one of the more noteworthy ones being the Jamaican Rasta populist-poet, Benjamin Zephania (one of the few people alive whom I'd most like to meet). But even so, it can't stop my rejoicing at the public recognition of people whom I admire. Congratulations to all!
4 hours ago