NEW HONOURS SYSTEM EXPLAINED

As was widely anticipated the British Honours system has been recommended for a complete overhaul to bring it into the modern age. Out go archaic terms such as ‘Order of the British Empire’ or ‘OBE’ and it is also possible that knighthoods may also go so there will be no more Sirs or Dames. Honours may also be taken largely out of the control of the government and the monarchy. However, the report does support retaining some form of Honours system. What shape will they take and how will they be awarded?

The lower-ranking honours of the type normally given to popular entertainers and sports celebrities, such as CBEs will be replaced by a more modern system where the honoured recipients will be given a nice framed certificate signed by the Queen (suitable for sale on EBay) and a £20 Book Token.

OBEs will be replaced by a similar certificate (but with a gilt edge), a signed photograph of Ester Rantzen and a £100 Ikea gift voucher.

Knighthoods and Dameships, of the type of Honours normally only given to senior politicians, military leaders and civil servants (and rich businessmen) will be replaced, although this will not affect most of the UK or Commonwealth citizens since only the Nobs ever get this gong. No longer will we have Sirs, such as Sir Les Patterson, or Dames such as Dame Edna Everidge. Instead recipients will have an ennobled title more in keeping with modern society. Sirs will become Da Main Man and Dames will be known as Queen Booty (as in Queen Booty Judi Dench or Da Main Man Sean Connery).

The Order of the Bath will be replaced by the Order of the Jacuzzi, the Order of the Thistle is replaced by the Order of the Camomile Tea and the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is replaced by the Order of Saint Marks and Spencer (and comes with a £500 M&S gift voucher). All references to the ‘British Empire’ will be removed on the somewhat inconsequential grounds that it no longer exists apart from a few islands in the Indian Ocean we rent to the Americans (and the loyal sheep and penguins of the Falklands).

While we at the Gazette are pleased that the Honours system is to be revised and made more acceptable to modern society we do admit to a slight twinge of regret that now we will never see ourselves or our chums knighted. Now the world will never see Lord Woolamaloo of Ursa Major (although Lord Woolamaloo would probably wear leather with lace trim instead of the normal ermine robes); there will be no ‘arise, Sir Ariel’ as our esteemed Alien editor is knighted for services to the SF community. A shame, really.

As government and the monarch may have less of a role in choosing who receives the Honours in order to remove any claims of political motivations, favouritism or cronyism, how will possible recipients now be selected? The report has again plumped for a thoroughly contemporary system designed to engage the great unwashed mass of the British populace in a method it can relate to: reality TV. Possible Honours recipients will be put into a closely monitored environment and shown 24/7 on TV where they will have to perform various ridiculous tasks while viewers can vote regularly on who gets booted out with a title. Thus once revered ancient British traditions may be introduced to the general decline and fall of British culture, with OBEs (Order of the British Empire) being replaced by LCDs (Lowest Common Denominator).