Twinkle, twinkle, little...WHAT?

Few things surprise me any more, not even the infinite capacity of our self-appointed moral guardians to seek out offence where none exists or could possibly have been intended.

Humourless Leftists react to harmless jokes like hysterical Victorian maiden aunts having a fit of the vapours over half an inch of uncovered table leg.

We live in an age of hair-trigger horror, in which anyone saying ‘boo’ to a goose can expect to face an instant firestorm on Twitter and demands for their arrest on animal cruelty charges.

Parents have been told the song 'twinkle, twinkle little star' may cause offence to the deaf

Parents have been told the song 'twinkle, twinkle little star' may cause offence to the deaf (picture posed by model)

Most of the time this confected outrage is as tedious as it is predictable and can safely be treated with the contempt it so thoroughly deserves. But every now and again even I am astounded by the ingenuity of the New Puritans.

Take the case of the Sure Start toddler group, which has come to the attention of ever-vigilant officials at the City of York Council.

Parents have been told that their children may no longer make the traditional ‘star’ sign with their hands when performing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star — because it may cause offence to the deaf.

Apparently, the sign, which resembles a diamond shape when made with forefingers and thumbs, is used in official sign language to represent female genitalia.

Who knew?

Jill Hodges, assistant director of education, said this was ‘a sensible decision taken to prevent deaf children or deaf parents being offended’.

It goes without saying that there are currently no deaf children or parents attending the play group, at Acomb, North Yorkshire. Naturally, there hasn’t been a single complaint.

Still, better safe than sorry. You never know when a deaf person might chance to look through the window just as the toddlers are making the sign of the star. The potential for misinterpretation is too horrible to contemplate.

According to sign language experts, however, that is highly unlikely. Lynn Delfosse, of the charity Action on Hearing Loss, said: ‘The signs alone can have more than one meaning, as with any language, and need to be contextualised in terms of grammar and the situation in which they are used.’

The strictly accurate sign for female genitalia is an inverted diamond held in front of the crotch. While singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, the children hold their hands high above their heads.

So, in order for the ‘star’ sign to be confused with the sign for a lady’s wossname, the woman in question would have to be doing a handstand or cartwheel at the time.

Nevertheless, the council has instructed them in future to use an alternative gesture to indicate a twinkling star — the opening and closing of a fist.


More from Richard Littlejohn for the Daily Mail...

Some of you might think that opening and closing a fist also has considerable potential for misunderstanding in certain circumstances.

In fact, half the signing alphabet is a minefield when it comes to causing offence. The sign for the letter ‘O’, for instance, is uncannily similar to the gesture used by football fans to indicate their displeasure with refereeing decisions. It is known in the trade as the ‘merchant banker’ salute.

The letter ‘Z’ resembles the ‘swivel on this’ gesture familiar to motorists. The letter ‘V’ is self-explanatory. And the sign for the letter ‘G’ is commonly directed towards men suspected of a deficiency in the trouser department.

So why single out a group of toddlers for censorship?

Simple. The staff involved had just been on a special training course aimed at helping them understand sign language and its potential pitfalls.

Brimming with their newly-acquired expertise they returned to work determined to put it to good use. Their laser-beam attention quickly locked in on a performance of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star likely to cause a breach of the peace.

Job done. Another box ticked. Treble time all round, or a week off in lieu.

Local authority staff spend half their working lives on training courses, indoctrinating them in the new religion of ‘diversity’.

Councils waste millions sending staff to be brainwashed, at anything up to £500 a pop, inc VAT, vegetarian buffet and all-u-can-drink Fair Trade coffee.

So it isn’t surprising when they demand value for all the taxpayers’ money frittered away on these useless jollies.

Most of the stories you read about, say, Christians being persecuted for wearing the crucifix, or some activity or other being banned because it causes ‘offence’ to minorities, stem from courses held to promote the pernicious creed of ‘diversity’.

It’s bad enough when blameless adults have their careers ruined by these zealots. When they pick on innocent children it is pure evil.

As a result, an increasing number of young children are now finding themselves branded ‘racists’ or ‘homophobes’ on the basis of a throwaway playground taunt.

But it takes an especially diseased mind to detect something sordid in an innocent performance of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by a group of toddlers.

We’ve got a sign for these people, haven’t we children?


They already call it the Best Club In London. Now a Commons committee is recommending turning part of the Palace of Westminster into an exclusive private club.

For an annual subscription of £2,000, members will have access to bars and dining rooms and be able to sip champagne on the famous terrace overlooking the Thames.

Corporate memberships will also be offered for £20,000 a year, to attract wealthy businessmen.

Westminster Club

I’d willingly pay a couple of grand not to have to rub shoulders with MPs, but there will be plenty of takers.

There are plans for a range of merchandise, including T-shirts, wallpaper and a line of limited edition prints by Grayson Perry, the transvestite potter. Perhaps Perry could be persuaded to meet and greet, dressed as Little Bo Peep.

Call Me Dave sometimes has the air of an obsequious, upmarket maitre d’. They could add a casino, with Boy George as croupier. Faites vos jeux, ladies and gentlemen. A few high rollers and the deficit would be halved in no time.

How about a weekly dwarf-tossing contest, featuring Speaker Bercow in a Velcro jumpsuit being fired at a giant dartboard? The queues would stretch round Parliament Square.

His missus would be more than happy to do a turn as a pole dancer. After some of her tacky stunts, it would be a step up in the world. Stringfellows-on-Thames is about her level.

I’m sure Max Mosley would be interested in joining — especially if they set up a punishment dungeon staffed by a few of Cameron’s Cuties in skimpy Black Rod outfits, offering the full three-line whip.

And Two Jags could be brought out of retirement to work as a wine waiter.

Order, order!

Gin and tonic, Giovanni...

Fan-dabi-dozi! Ian and Janette Tough, aka The Krankies

Fan-dabi-dozi! Ian and Janette Tough, aka The Krankies

Watch out, he's behind you

The Krankies have invaded their own privacy and admitted that they used to be secret swingers. Ian and Janette Tough, both 64, boast that they shared an ‘anytime, anywhere’, Martini advert attitude to sex.

I wonder if Janette wore her Wee Jimmy Krankie outfit to wife-swapping parties.


So that’s what goes on once the curtain comes down, is it? It’s what the Queen Mum called ‘letting light in on magic’.

Somehow, I can’t see Little and Large at a swingers’ party, but you never know. Supersonic Syd might have hidden passions.

Morecambe and Wise famously shared a bed, although I don’t think we can read too much into it. What Wilson, Keppel and Betty got up to when they weren’t doing the sand dance mercifully remains a closed book. But those were more discreet times.

The Krankies might have a panto to promote, but the vision of Ian Tough with his trousers round his ankles, in the embrace of a lion tamer’s assistant, isn’t likely to attract a family audience. Quite the opposite.

I don’t wish to know that. Kindly leave the stage.


Given the Premier League’s propensity for wallowing in vicarious grief, I’m dreading turning up at White Hart Lane on Thursday and being forced to observe a minute’s silence for Kim Jong-il.


Pete's having a larf

Forgive me for not boring you with my view of the eurozone crisis. Life’s too short. You’ll find plenty of comment elsewhere, if you’re interested.

But all the sound and fury over Dave’s use of the veto has produced the best joke of the year. Peter Preston, the copper’s nark who lectures the rest of us on Press ethics in the Observer, has been lamenting the failure of the ‘liberal-Left’ to counter the lies of the foam-flecked, Right-wing xenophobes at the Mail.

Part of the reason is because ‘the BBC is still impaled on impartiality . . .’
It’s the way he tells ’em.

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