18 December 2010

The right and wrong kinds of inspiration

Bel Mooney in the Daily Mail wrote recently about the Inspirational Women of the Year awards. (Nobody had nominated me.) Typically, the nominees had suffered a severe setback in life, such as major physical injury, but continued to live with apparent enthusiasm, setting up a charity to provide help and counselling to people with similar injuries.

‘It does require putting your own moans last’, Bel Mooney said. ‘They identify a need and just go for it. As Katie Piper said, “You can look to the left and to the right and see people with far worse problems.”’

Clearly someone who responds to a bad situation in their own life by trying to ameliorate it, as I did, is taking their own ‘moans’ seriously and hence cannot qualify for approval or admiration, although they appear to qualify for unlimited opposition.

My colleague Charles McCreery’s mother, Lady McCreery, was well aware of what made women qualify for being regarded as ‘inspirational’. She went every year to the lunches at which these awards were made, being a close acquaintance of the Marchioness of Lothian, who ran them for some years, having started them.

When Charles brought her to meet me, soon after I first met him, Lady McCreery took an instant dislike to me. Of course, it is quite possible that she had already gathered from other statusful people that I was persona non grata. On the face of it, it might appear that I was not doing anything very different from what had been done by acceptable people regarded as ‘inspirational’, in responding to adversity in my own life by setting up an independent academic institution for research in previously neglected areas.

Lady McCreery told Charles that she had got me taped at once. I was, she said, ‘patronising, offhand and humourless’.

Far from wishing to bring my efforts to the attention of the Marchioness of Lothian and other supporters of inspirational women, she proceeded to stop at nothing to thwart my efforts.