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Endearing Albert Finney scorned the snobmongers

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23.02.2019

The endearing English stage and screen actor Albert Finney, a true working-class hero, has just died. Endearingly, he turned down a CBE in 1980 and then a knighthood in 2000.

"The Sir thing", he said, explaining why he didn’t want a knighthood, "perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery".

"I think we should all be Misters together."

Albert Finney, left, and Julia Roberts appear in a scene from Erin Brockovich, for which Roberts won an Oscar. Credit:AP Photo/Universal Studios

When and if I am offered a major Australian honour I know that I will instinctively decline it and that in doing this dear Albert, and other great Britons who have declined knighthoods, will be my partial role models.

Yes, I know that the Australian honours system is only a cousin of the British one but there are still some snobbery-tinged similarities.

British knighthoods, over and above the way they promote snobbery (shame, shame upon Australia’s governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove for leaping to accept an imperial honour from the pommy snobmongers) have been devalued and made ludicrous by the way they are sprinkled among people of few if any accomplishments. British sportsmen get them for being terribly good at tennis, badminton or cycling. British celebrities are given knighthoods for being famous.

So many Australians seem to get top gongs (as just revealed again........

© The Sydney Morning Herald