I’ve become obsessed with a woman. I think she is going to crop up in this blog quite often because I can’t get her out of my mind. She is the last thing I think about before I sleep at night. I wake with her name on my lips. I feel shivery and bereft when others mention her name. She’s a nurse, of course – they always are. Her name is Mary Seacole.
My two boys, aged 10 and 11, have been learning about the Victorian era. They enjoy history, believing it to be a sort of competition. I once saw them fighting over who was “better”, the Romans or the Tudors. “It’s the Romans, you fucking spastic” my eldest screamed before punching his bro. I sort of agree with that analysis.
So, the Victorians, then. I asked them to name some famous Victorians – they were able to name two. Queen Victoria and Mary Seacole. There you have it: a racially balanced all women shortlist of Victorians. What about the writers, Dickens, Carlyle, Ruskin? Or the politicians, Gladstone and Disraeli? The engineers, the scientists, or the brutal imperialists who ran our criminal empire oppressing the blameless natives with the jackboot heel of, er, oppression? Or the reformers, the proto-socialists? Nope, they couldn’t name one. Just the monarch who gave her name to the era – and a nurse. Mary Seacole. She didn’t even have a bloody lamp.
Poor Mary has become a symbol for me of politically correct stupidity – much, I suppose, as she has become a symbol for the whining left educationalists of institutionalised racism. I would not mind my kids learning about Mrs Seacole if they knew of 2,000 other Victorians, but of course they don’t. For the educationalists, Mary Seacole was one of the two most important figures of the century, solely and utterly because she was black.