I’m not particularly familiar with the career of Jordan, now known as Katie Price, or is it the other way around? The thirty-three year old, twice married and mother of three, addressed the Oxford Union yesterday. It was reported that her speech, to four hundred Oxford undergraduates, was short, and simply outlined her achievements in topless modeling, books and other media ventures and had a core of, don’t give up, advice. The platform from which she spoke has previously been occupied by twelve prime ministers, numerous other academics, authors and politicians, the Dalai Lama and Kermit the Frog.
This misplaced act of seeming, egalitarian generosity, is in fact the reimposition of the old class order. I am sure that no one in the Oxford Union thought for one moment that Katie Price had a single iota of wisdom or knowledge with which to enrich their studies. So why was she invited? Firstly it is an extreme act of patronage akin to Bruce Forsyth being Knighted. A sop to the masses. What are they saying? Look, even a topless model with the grammatical, sentence structure, skills, of a SatNav can be elevated to this illustrious platform, but only to be asked questions like, ‘Who’s the best lover you’ve ever been with?’ and enquiries concerning her breasts. How dare these arrogant upstarts belittle her achievements with such trite questions?
It’s Oxford’s response to letting in more working class students. You can come here and be with the elite but you will take part in the ritual humiliation of your erstwhile bedfellows. For humiliation is what it was. Jordan was not being elevated to academic heights for her achievements, she was being displayed as a trophy, look what we can do. I wonder how many working class students in the audience had a slight nagging sense of betrayal somewhere in their guffaws? Katie Price accepted it all with the good grace and generosity of spirit that truly outshone the tawdry and thoughtless motives of her hosts.
Just think about the statue of Alison Lapper, the pregnant disabled woman, who was on display in Trafalgar Square. Picked out and elevated to greatness, not by her achievements, but by the patronage of the artist, Marc Quinn, who selected her. I am asking if Marc Quinn had a particular reason for choosing a woman with stunted arms and legs for us to stare at on a plinth in Trafalgar Square, or is he simply using her as emotional blackmail? I mean is he saying, come on who’s going to be the first to say, no, tear down that patronising crap? Well, it seems he’s stared us out as no one has. Without him she would have remained anonymous. Rather like Katie being selected by the Oxford Union for greatness. My, how these people love to patronise those who they regard as being worthy of their attention.
I have not read the transcript of the talk by the Dalai Lama at the Oxford Union, or the questions that followed it, but I am sure they didn’t ask him about his sex life or his breast, only what beat inside it, as they should have done to Katie.