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Paper Monitor

10:29 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Twice a year, Paper Monitor waits by patiently by the letterbox. And yet each time this column's services to highlighting the riches of the daily press go inexplicably unrewarded by the British honours system.

And yet clearly not everyone is so desperate for recognition. A freedom of information request has revealed the names of luminaries who have turned down gongs.

One person who has famously done so is Michael Winner, and he is commissioned by the Daily Mail to outline his reasoning.

The result is quite comfortably the most gloriously pompous opening paragraph Paper Monitor has ever had the pleasure to read:

A few years ago, I was offered an OBE. Twice! 'The Prime Minister (Tony Blair) has requested...' I simply wrote on the letter by hand: 'I will continue my good work unrewarded.' And sent it back.

Winner continues: "I now put on my notepaper Michael Winner MA (Cantab), OBE (offered but rejected)."

According to Harry Mount of the Daily Telegraph, those who do likewise are generally playing a game of "posh poker" in the hope they will be offered a more elevated bauble further down the line, just as Lucien Freud turned down a CBE in 1977 only to accept a Companionship of Honour in 1983 and the Order of Merit a decade later.

He identifies a pattern among the refuseniks:

They tend to be from the aesthetic world - artists, writers and actors. They can take the gamble that the Queen will up the ante if they don't say yes; if you're in the armed forces or the Foreign Office, when you turn down that knighthood, it's not going to be offered again, let alone bumped up a few notches later on.

Perhaps the Independent's leader is closest to the mark, however, when it notes that "with the Information Commission ruling that the details of such snubs can no longer be kept secret, admittance to the ranks of the refuseniks might prove more prestigious than inclusion on the honours list itself".

Paper Monitor still wouldn't say no.

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