I was speaking on a Cunard ship last week and returned to my cabin in a warm glow, following an enthusiastic reception.
Two minutes later my spirits sank to the bottom of the ocean as I opened my emails to be greeted with the message: “Ashers has lost appeal.”
Ashers of course is the Christian bakery which refused to bake a cake for a gay couple bearing the slogan Support Gay Marriage.
Even though gay marriage was not legal in Northern Ireland it lost a discrimination case in court and last week lost an appeal.
The judgment is a legal nonsense as its premise is that the couple suffered discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Rot.
If a heterosexual couple or a single person had come in to the shop and asked for the same slogan to be put on a cake the bakers would still have refused.
If the homosexual couple had asked for a cake emblazoned happy birthday it would have been made.
Thus it is illogical to suggest that the issue was the sexuality of the customer rather than the slogan itself.
Even Peter Tatchell and other spokesmen for homosexual rights think the Ashers judgment authoritarian and wrong.
A litmus test for democracy is the ability of an individual to reject state orthodoxy and exercise freedom of conscience. Britain now comprehensively fails that test.
Furthermore, forcing citizens to affirm that which they do not believe – as is the case here – is the mark of totalitarianism itself.
As readers of this column will know I was recently in Gibraltar where the legalisation of gay marriage is about to be put to the vote.
One politician said to me he expected it to go through and he would indeed be voting for it but that it was important “not to be like Britain” and “upset diversity”.
He said there were many faiths in the territory and it was vital to ensure that they could continue to dissent without fear of breaking the law.
Interestingly it was the Ashers case he used as an example. This is what we have come to. Once regarded as the very bastion of liberty and freedom of speech, Britain now sets an example that other countries want to avoid.
Oh, woe that we, whose parents gave life and limb for liberty, should have witnessed such a day.