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 He's at it again.

Yes, Piers Morgan, currently locked in a death battle with Piers Corbyn for the uncoveted title of "UK's most irritating Piers" has been flapping his jowls about the mental fragility or other wise of otherworldly, gravity-defying gymnast, Simone Biles, who, reasonably enough, given one wrong move could break her neck, has decided to sit the bulk of this Olympics out due to her mental state not being of the best.

Never having been an elite sportsperson, or been in an Olympic final, I'll confess I feel underqualified to comment on the stress levels that such a situation entails. If only Piers did.

He is, however, quieter on the subject of England's all-round behemoth, Ben Stokes, to take an indefinite time out from the game to look after his mental health, (Unsurprisingly, others who weighed on on the mental health of young female athletes are also being somewhat reticent on the subject of Ben Stokes, probably because there's a very good chance they'll cross paths with him sooner rather than later), funny that. I also don't recall Piers having much to say when the frankly terrifying Tyson Fury was battling his mental demons.

(side note, I have actually met Tyson Fury, and can report that he has a nice line in picnic wear, any man who has a wicker hamper with actual crockery in clearly takes his al fresco dining seriously, and as to the all-peach ensemble he was sporting, well, it takes a confident man to pull that off, and if I were the size he is, I'd be pretty confident too, he's massive). 

But yes, bashing young women of colour is very much Piers' MO, I'll leave it to the amateur psychologists amongst you to work out why, but if the answer isn't "pervy old racist" I'll be surprised. Therefore, it came as a bit of a shock to discover that when the Beeb's Olympics presenter, Alex Scott, was getting a dressing down for her accent, it wasn't Piers but Digby Jones, or "Lord Digby Jones" as he insists on being called, who was deploring her dropped g's (wait 'til he hears the Home Secretary speak).

I don't intend to spend much time dismantling his argument, as it's so self-evidently fatuous that if you need me to point it out, I doubt you'll have got this far into the blog. No, how I read the situation was "no mark trying to score some points off someone".

For Alex Scott is someone, an international footballer and in-demand pundit of warmth and grace, who just happens to have a proper, honest-to-goodness London accent. Digby, on the other hand, is neither the biggest dog in the world, or, as I presumed he was, Sir John Harvey-Jones, you know, the bloke who wandered round businesses on the telly shouting at them to pull their socks up. Having had to find out who he was I was unsurprised to discover that he was white, late-middle aged and clearly not shy of lunch. Also that he was famous for saying that "not a single job would be lost because of Brexit."

Yes, dear reader, another middle aged white male mediocrity! Can't imagine why they're all so eager to criticise young women, no sirree, not for a second.

Naturally, the usual slapping down occurred (most majestically by Stephen Fry, who pointed out that if we were splitting hairs, he should refer to himself as "Digby, Lord Jones" as he's not the son of an earl or marquis, oof, get 'em right in the snobbery) but I suppose by then, for Digby, it was job done, a spot of notoriety and a few harrumphed congrats from his fellow dinosaurs who can't understand why a black woman's on the telly rather than being hidden in the family tree because we don't talk about what Great Grandpapa got up to in the Colonies.

That these attitudes persist is, it goes without saying, intensely depressing. One of Britain's biggest problems has always been its snobbery (from which so many inequalities spring), it's overvaluing of the "right" accents and having been to the "right" schools, the ludicrous deference to royalty, as if royals aren't there purely because someone's ancestor was a bigger thieving bastard than somebody else's, but, though I firmly believe that we're headed in the right direction, chumps like Digby are a reminder that we've still got a long way to go.


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