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First we take Piddletrenthide…

June 23, 2020
Piddletrenthide, Dorset. Pic: Marilyn Peddle

“This statue lark is getting a bit out of hand, isn’t it?”

“Whoa! You call removing emblems of racist repression A LARK??? You must be a racist yourself!”

“Oh golly, I was just about to point out that all those Roman and Greek statues are made of marble, which is white. That’s no reason to rip them out of museums and drag them to the nearest river. They were once painted, you know – all sorts of bright colours. And if you look at the skin colour on Greek vases, all the men are dark-skinned, even if for cultural reasons the women were light skinned.”

“Did I just hear you say golly? Well that’s it then! You are a bloody racist. And actually, a lot of Roman statues were brown, because bronze is brown, but the bastards were still slave owners, so they should be taken down.”

“OK, so what about all those statues of Jesus looking like one of the guys howling at Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice? They’re white, aren’t they? And the Leonardos, the Michaelangelos, the paintings in the churches, the stained glass windows created centuries ago? They have to go too?”

“Of course! We all know that Jesus had dark skin, so to portray him otherwise is an act of cultural appropriation. So yes, we should take them down, burn the paintings, smash the windows.”

“But wasn’t Jesus depicted as a white man in parts of the world where the population was predominantly white because the artists wanted to portray him as one of us? So that we would relate to him? Just as in Ethiopia the Copts gave him a dark skin, and Chinese Christians depicted him as Chinese?”

“Not the point. Far better that we have no images of Jesus at all, so that he can’t be hijacked into a racist icon. And the same goes for all other depiction of humans. Do you think people should give a shit whether Marie Curie, Adolf Hitler, Abraham Lincoln or Julius Caesar were black, white or yellow?What matters is what they achieved, or what monstrosities they carried out. If Christians truly want to be equal before God, it shouldn’t matter whether we are black or white, man or woman, whether we ejaculate or menstruate. So why depict all those images that create focal points for division and illusions of superiority? Take them down. All of them!”

“Well, I suppose the iconoclasts of Byzantium did have a point. All those icons that rode into battle against the Huns, the Goths and the Arab hordes. What good did they do? And it would be quite nice if all we could see was the birds and the bees, the sheep gambolling in the pastures and a few tyrannosaurs ambling benignly by. I for one wouldn’t miss those photos of Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Genghis Khan. Not for a moment.”

“Exactly. So if you want to redeem yourself, and truly repent of your ingrained racism, there’s a march next Saturday on the Church of St John the Baptist in Piddletrenthide. We’re going to take down the racist windows that have been oppressing the village for the past eight hundred years. More details on your local Facebook Antifa Group. First we take Piddletrenthide…”

Yes, I know that’s one of the silliest conversations you’re likely to encounter today. And Socrates would laugh like a drain at the logic leaps. But consider the tweet that inspired it. It came from a guy who has over a million followers. He has a podcast and supports all kind of worthy causes, such as casting out the Republican majority from the US senate.

This is what he says:

Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been. In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down.

In a follow-on, he continues:

All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda. They should all come down.

Oh, and by the way, this chap, from the picture under his name, appears to be a white guy. His name is Shaun King. I know nothing about him other than what he says about himself in the jumble of hashtags that constitutes his Twitter profile.

The response to his message was largely mockery, though a few people clearly agreed with him. Who knows? Perhaps – as Donald Trump claimed when he said in Tulsa over the weekend that he was slowing the COVID testing down so that the US wouldn’t show so many cases – he was joking.

But I think it’s one thing if some crackpot like me, who has about two and a half followers on Twitter, comes out with stuff like this, but someone with a million followers?

All things considered, the best response is probably to have a laugh. Not about the important stuff, but about the wild shores that people are increasingly visiting. Until, of course, they come for Piddletrenthide, which, by the way, is a real village sitting down the Piddle Valley in the beautiful English county of Dorset.

And the Church is actually named All Saints. Very inclusive.

  1. Just an irrelevant note: there is also “lower Piddle, Wyre Piddle, and best of all, Piddle in the Hole” among others.

    Apart from that, this destroying statues IS a lark, engaged in (perpretrated by) nincompoops without brains.
    Statues were usually put up during, or just after, the lifetime of those they represent. Whatever we think of them NOW we shouldn’t forget that times were different. Beliefs were different. The statues were put up THEN. Instead of just pulling them down, there should be information boards by the statues telling the WHOLE story of the life and deeds of the person represented.
    I like the part of the inscription on the tombstone of Elihu Yale, benefactor of what became Yale University, written by himself, by the way: “Much good he did, some ill, so hope all’s even and that his soul through mercy’s gone to heaven…..” “you that survive and read this tale, take care, For this most certain exit to prepare
    Where blest in peace, the actions of the just
    Smell sweet and blossom in the dust”

    • Love the quote. Altered inscriptions, yes. But I also think that controversial statues that sit in town squares are sometimes difficult, because they can be seen to represent the outlook of those who live in those towns. So move them, don’t destroy them, because they’re part of our history.

      As for the Piddles, yes indeed. I chose Piddletrenthide because it’s very close to where I went to school, and I went cycling through it often. Lovely part of the world, especially at this time of year.

  2. Andrew Robinson permalink

    A bit of a shame that it’s in Dorset. It should be a village near the source of the river that flows through Nottingham, beloved for a children’s game popularised by The Famous Five and The Secret Seven….

    How do you pronounce “Piddletrenthide” by the way? 🙂 (I go for “pid-let-RENT-haïd” – a sequence of actions when the landlord comes to call.)

    I’m not sure if I am “fundamentally” against fecal points for division and illusions of superiority. They’re possibly a load of …… Some people started pulling stuff down (blowing/smashing up in fact) at Bamiyan and Palmyra.

    It’s like reading your blog… once people start, they can’t stop.

    My home town, Darlington, has a big statue of Joseph Pease, younger brother of the Edward, co-father of the railways (with George Stephenson). Not sure that Quaker statues are shaking in their boots…..

  3. Douglas Langmead permalink

    Its going to be hard to read through future blogs without recalling that they were partly inspired by pedaling through puddles of Piddle.

  4. deborah a moggio permalink

    Please note where he is at present. How could he possibly be incorrect?
    P.S. I do so want to thank you for finding Piddle for me!
    We drove through it the first time I was in Jolly Olde, and could never find it again!!!

    • He sounds like quite an unhappy person, despite his million followers. Delighted you have experienced the Piddles!

    • Douglas Langmead permalink

      From a NYT article published 19 August 2015:-

      The activist, Shaun King, 35, rose to prominence in the Black Lives Matter movement after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. He has said that his mother is white and his father is black and that the assault fueled his passion for helping people.

      But conservative bloggers accused him of lying about both, pointing to a police report from an incident that Mr. King describes as his brutal beating by a white mob. In the report, dated March 1, 1995, Mr. King’s race is marked as white, his injuries are described as minor, and only one other student is identified as being involved.

      Keith Broughton, the investigating detective, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he had not asked Mr. King about his race but filled out the form based on the observation of the student’s light skin and white mother. He said he interviewed six witnesses put forth by the school’s principal, including a teacher who broke up the fight. They all described it as a one-on-one altercation, he said.


      With the best will in the world, in the light of what we have recently witnessed and the undeniable race issues in the US, can anyone take this detective at face value. The school principal has the school’s reputation to protect and white parents to placate – he chose the witnesses. Quite possibly they were the same boys who carried out the beating – are there medical records to validate the extent of the injuries?

      Based on King’s Wikipedia photo, the call on skin colour is marginal, but rather than query a racial motive, the detective took the easy option.

      Whatever the provenance, no fundamentalist pastor can be taken seriously.

      • He obviously worked hard for his million followers. Twitter is a strange place.

    • Douglas Langmead permalink

      With everyone having been through puddles of Piddle, if you ever come visiting, please leave your shoes at the front door !

      • Certainly will. And Marilyn Peddle, who too the pic, no doubt does so as well.

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