THE WAY I SEE IT #7 : By Darren Murphy

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THE way a writer’s mind works is quite unique, especially the way it builds on ideas. I have a fine example from the previous weekend when I attended a friend’s barbecue.

After indulging in a few too many burgers and consuming what would prove to be way too many bottles of beer, a few friends and I enjoyed the rest of our evening in the comfort of our host’s garden. The conversation flowed vibrantly as it does among friends and soon enough we had sorted out the world’s problems, as you do.

These are opportunist moments for writers like me and it was only a matter of time before one friend gave me an idea, which I could build on for this week’s post. There I was enjoying the company when suddenly my good friend Nicky asked me my opinion on knighthoods and the various other honours people receive in modern-day Britain.

The writer in me instantly found this an interesting topic and where better to answer than in my blog, and I’m sure people’s opinions will differ dramatically but this is my blog so let’s hear mine!

Firstly, I’m sticking strictly to knighthood, after all it is the pièce de résistance of British honours. Well unless you’re lucky enough to be made a baron! Secondly, I think it’s important that we learn a little about where this honour originated and what it actually means before I subject you to my opinions!

It’s impossible to say which civilization was responsible for the creation of knighthoods although there is evidence to suggest ancient Rome had a knightly order comprising mounted nobles. During Saxon times, however, knighthoods began to emerge and initially they were professional associations which were were made up of men who had enough money to buy a horse and armour for mounted warfare.

So there’s a large difference in the knights of old and their modern-day equivalent. I mean, let’s face it, could you really see Sir Elton John mounted on a horse ready to charge into a bloody and brutal battle?

In the past, knighthoods were strictly honours bestowed upon military personnel. However, in this day and age, knighthoods or damehoods for females, are an honour received by anyone who is recognised for having made what has been deemed a significant contribution to life.

Here is where opinions are going to vary and what it boils down to is whether or not people actually deserve these honours and whether or not they’re handed out too easily.

I don’t think there’s a definitive answer, I’m afraid, as there are some cases in which I believe certain people have received these honours not entirely undeservedly but, in my oponion, the individual wasn’t fully deserving of the honour either. The Olympics has just passed and already there’s a huge amount of speculation as to who will receive a knighthood or damehood.

Will it be Mo Farah? What about cyclist Bradley Wiggins? Or could it even be poster girl Jessica Ennis?

Don’t get me wrong, what they have achieved has been nothing short of amazing. In fact, I’m in awe and couldn’t be prouder of these fantastic athletes, but knight/damehoods, really? We’ve seen their achievements and, quite rightly, they’ve been so widely recognised as it is.

Going back to who received initial knighthoods and why they were received – military personnel for military merit!

You see where I’m going with this?

At the moment, Britain’s armed forces still have a large presence in hostile war zones. And if anybody deserves honours of this kind it’s these servicemen and women who continually risk their lives for their country.

How often over the last 10 years have we read about soldiers being injured in action? Having stepped on a deadly improvised explosive device or been shot, after which they return home with limbs missing, physically and mentally scarred while serving their country so honourably. Where are the knighthoods for these people? Or the damehoods for the wives who battle against all the odds to try and make a normal life for their injured partners.

Surely these servicemen and women have more similarities with the knights of old?

The countless heroes who try to put their lives back together after suffering devastating injuries while fighting for our country are the real knights. It’s these people I will address as Sir or Dame – not some actor, musician or sports star.

Remember, though, folks, that’s just the way I see it.