Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Selling England By The Pound

As the Diamond Jubilee wankfest in the UK shudders to a sputtering climax amid all the usual back slapping ("No one does this better than the Brits", "Everything that's great about Britain", "Proud to be British"), the usual headlines about fathers of sixteen kids being charged with murder after a pub brawl (no one does this better than the Brits), thuggish footballers arrested for affray following a night club brawl (everything that's great about Britain), and corrupt white politicians close to the prime minister escaping investigation whilst Muslim politicians are investigated straight away (proud to be British) confirm that it's business as usual for high and low life alike in the modern UK.

As part of the excessive hype celebrations, the 153-year-old clock tower (strictly the bell inside the clock tower) formerly known as Big Ben is likely to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower. Those supporting the proposal admit that Big Ben will still be known colloquially as Big Ben and I suppose that 60 years' service merits a gong. And at least it keeps it within the family, the clock at the other side of Parliament having been renamed Victoria Tower in honour of the only previous 60-year time-server in the post.

However, this reminds me of a less justifiable renaming of a piece of UK history from a few months ago. Flamboyant and not-yet-tainted-by-arrest local tycoon, purveyor of overpriced baubles to the rich and stupid, Dickson Poon has made a £20m donation to the 173-year-old King's College, London's law faculty, ranked in the top 25 law schools in the world (QS 2011 rankings). The law faculty is to be renamed the Dickson Poon School of Law, apparently in gratitude rather than as part of the deal, although a nod and a wink before the cheque was signed would have amounted to the same thing. Whilst it is said to be the largest single donation by an individual to a British or European faculty (at least in nominal terms), and whilst Mr. Poon is an undoubted Anglophile and his intentions are surely genuine, to get such an institution renamed for about 1% of his net worth, or the price of one of his houses, is surely tantamount to a gift ... by King's.

Recognising the gaffe they have made concerns of alumni, I see that those who have sold the family silver, primarily "Professor Sir Richard Trainor, Principal and President of King’s College London" (clearly a man who likes his titles, especially if they don't contain the words "Dickson" and "Poon"), have issued a statement that degree certificates will not bear the name Dickson Poon. I think that says it all save to remark that it could have been worse. Suppose Mr. Poon had acted in concert with Henry Tang (poontang - geddit? Oh, never mind.)?

1 comment:

  1. I can't see his point: there is no insurable interest.