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WIRRAL copper Andy Holden is taking his bosses to an employment tribunal claiming sexual discrimination because he is not allowed to wear an earring on duty.

WIRRAL copper Andy Holden is taking his bosses to an employment tribunal claiming sexual discrimination because he is not allowed to wear an earring on duty.

Hmmm, does not seem such onerous deprivation, he can hardly say his lobe does not operate as well without it. But it is principle, I suppose - a question of time and how much of it has moved on. That and lines and where they should be drawn to separate the sexes.

Time was when the only men who'd be seen dead in an earring were the swarthy prize-guys with slicked-back hair who worked the waltzers and dodgems on travelling fairgrounds and were on constant prowl for that night's lay. Oh yes, one would always be pulled and devoured, picked off like a zebra from the herd. God, those fellows were good.

Their compatriots, the Romany gypsies, whose men were also up to no good as far as decent women-folk were concerned, wore earrings as well. Previously only pirates could get away with wearing earrings in public.

But earrings were not an item a bitter-drinking man could wear for the darts match, nor the teenage boy coming to terms with his manhood via Park Drive untipped, or even the chap in the off ice. They were not a manly adornment, no more than a handbag or a brooch, two accessories which have never caught on with us men.

Earrings did catch on, however. I don't know when exactly, it must have been a gradual thing, until recently when it has become compulsory for teenagers to 30-somethings. Men have now been wearing them for years, some so many they could hang net curtains around their heads.

And they have spread. There are eyebrow, nose and lip rings and they all look very silly. A nipple-ring, fair enough, because you have to have somewhere to hang your keys, but the rest is fashion overkill.

Andy Holden, though, only wants to push back the boundaries a little and has asked to be allowed to wear a stud in his earlobe and has been refused. Unfair, he said, policewomen can wear jewellery and the case is now pending.

It seems almost quaint that his sexuality was questioned by his colleagues when they saw his earring. Policemen must be a stuff ier lot than I ever imagined and it means he feels compelled to explain to every journalist inquiring about his tribunal claim that he is happily married. To a woman. A real one, bosom and everything.

If he arrested you, would you still take him seriously? That is the crux of the issue. There has to be a line somewhere or you would have desperate villains screaming, 'You'll never take me alive, copper, not while you're wearing that chiffon scarf.'

It isn't as if he wants to paint his finger nails, wear a panty girdle or call himself Susan, but if he did would that not be sex discrimination as well?

* ON the day Whittaker's Almanack issued the results of a survey and asked,

'Is Britain dumbing down?', Boy George was elected as one of the greatest 100 Britons of all time - and quite right too. Dumbing down? My word no, we are getting brighter all the time.

Bear in mind the reason Boy George did not make the top 10, or even number one itself, is only because we were collectively perceptive enough to realise he is very much alive and his best years are still to come.

Cometh our hour of need a leader always emerges. Third World War, insurrection, economic meltdown? Step forward Boy George and take your place in history.

Ahh, I see all is becoming clear for you now. In his pigtails and face powder he would be an inspiration to us all.

In electing the people who have made the greatest impact on the country and the world such names as Nelson, Fleming, Faraday and Churchill somehow got in there. Bores and not a hit song or a decent joke between the lot of them. Thankfully Cliff ie and Diana helped bring a balance to the chart.

Some have claimed we are obsessed with celebrities, that the list trivialised our history...

'In at 37, the Duke of Wellington.. 'And at 36, Pinky and Perky.'

Tony Blair? We elected him? But he lives abroad, doesn't he?

Point is, had we been discontented, we would certainly have found out who was in charge and got him.

Surprisingly, Blair was also in the top 100, a few places below Basil Brush, I think, but ahead of Walter Raleigh.

Whittaker's reported more people recognised Phil Mitchell than Saddam Hussein as if it were something to be ashamed of.

But Saddam is not on EastEnders three times a week and is handicapped by looking a little like the bloke with Spit the Dog which made participants unsure.

Asked to name five cabinet members, 42% could not name a single one which rather wonderfully puts politicians in their place. Even if they become leader of their country like Vladimir Putin (Zimbabwe), Gerhard Schroeder (Russia) and Robert Mugabe (Germany), hardly anyone knows them, but we do know a man of true stature like Boy George.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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