I’ve long had a morbid obsession with the honours system, as manifested by the various baubles doled out twice a year or so in the name of the monarch. In one sense it’s entirely pointless and silly, but it gives so many hints as to how power and privilege operate in modern society, it can’t sensibly be ignored. This shows especially when we dig down into the particular gongs that particular individuals get. The actors Vanessa Redgrave and Joanna Lumley become dames; William Roache and June Brown, whose fame comes mainly from roles in long-running soap operas, get OBEs, several rungs down the ladder.
One award in particular fascinates; the CMG (Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George) bestowed upon Daniel Craig as he vacates the role of James Bond. No disrespect intended to Craig himself, who deserves a nod as much as Lumley or Roache. But why this one in particular? It’s an honour generally given to diplomats and other senior government servants rather than actors and most significantly, it was given to Bond himself for his various homicidal and amatory exploits in the service of Queen and Country. Except that Bond is a fictional character and the award was given by his creator, Ian Fleming, rather than by a shadowy committee operating under the nominal authority of the Queen. Essentially, an award more usually given to people for doing a thing is here being given to someone for pretending to do a thing.
And as I look down the rest of the list, I ask myself how many of the recipients – and not just the actors – fall into the latter category.