Jack Lesgrin’s Week

In a new regular feature, Jack Lesgrin gives a wry perspective on what’s caught the eye over the past week

A shepherdess speaks

In a fluff piece to promote her new Channel 5 documentary, celebrity Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen opined in The Times about how “the snowflake generation, they can’t do anything”. Laying the blame at the door of parents, and not knowingly affected by self-awareness, she noted of her own situation that “living here gives you a different mindset, a can-do mindset.” I imagine her motivational tips will go down as well as a tank full of slurry among the millions of parents who do their best to bring up children in small houses or flats in our inner-cities, with tiny or no gardens, limited outdoor space, low incomes, high crime levels, and sky-high property prices due to a planning system that favours rural NIMBYs. After all, not everyone is blessed by living on a 2,000 acre farm, or having lucrative second jobs such as presenting a hit Channel 5 show or being a best selling author. What next, tips on entrepreneurship by someone who inherited the seed capital from a rich relative?

Add Fennel for the flavour of success

Speaking of which, your correspondent was intrigued to gain yet more insights on the magic of success during BBC Radio 4’s Profile of the obviously talented Emerald Fennell – who readers may know as The Crown’s Camilla and who is currently Oscar-nominated for her film Promising Young Woman.

It is important that the world understands the elixir that could explain her mastery of more career roles by the age of 35, than most provincial towns could muster across their entire population during two centuries (actress, novelist, television writer, screenwriter, film director, television producer, film producer, and playwright).

Could it be the bohemian household of her childhood, which welcomed the great and the good from showbiz? I guess had most people been asked by family friend Andrew Lloyd Webber to re-write Cinderella for him, it might have boosted their confidence, too.

A co-collaborator on Killing Eve explained: “I think that family are a very, very tight family, who clearly adore each other and there’s a sort of freedom, I think, that has come from that, and a security, that just allows Emerald to take risks. I think it would be lovely if all people had that sort of freedom that I think she feels. I don’t know whether it comes from a sense that there’s always going to be someone who will catch you and that you’ll always be loved.”

And there lies the rub, if only the millions of young, aspiring actors, artists and musicians, who have to spend much of their spare time working in pubs (when they could) or restaurants, to make ends meet, let alone grant themselves the financial freedom to take risks, could emulate the ecosystem of top class networks, support and education that Fennell enjoyed, then it would be a clean sweep at the meritocracy Oscars. No matter how lovely and talented Ms Fennell is, I doubt her story, or indeed that of the celebrity shepherdess, will much inspire the ‘average’ young person.

It’s not a #LabourDoorstep

Finally, electioneering was back on the agenda, albeit temporarily given the passing of Prince Philip, with the Hartlepool by-election, local, Police and Crime Commissioner, Welsh Senedd, and Scottish Parliament elections on the horizon. Swept up in the excitement of being legally permitted to knock on doors to canvas or deliver election leaflets, several Labour activists immediately tweeted their thrill at being on the #LabourDoorstep. This phrase projects all that voters detest: arrogance, taking support for granted and hints at a one-way lecture not a two-way conversation. You can imagine a floating voter submerging him or herself just to avoid coming into contact with anyone from the #LabourDoorstep team.

Then again, given that canvassing so often becomes little more than a box ticking exercise to identify solid Labour voters (I used to get ticked off for engaging people in political discussion or asking why it was that we never knocked on the door of known Tories), perhaps it is after all a #LabourDoorstep. Hopefully it won’t take yet another defeat before Labour activists realise that we need also to venture onto the #ToryDoorstep, and be able to listen to what people say there, then develop policies and a manner of engagement that wins them over. Here’s hoping…

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