Official secrecy is an obsession in Britain that keeps the rulers - hereditary and elected - isolated from the ruled. When I say obsession, I mean it. Virtually everything is kept secret. For example, twice a year, Queen Elizabeth II gives out honors to the great and the good, things like knighthoods and CBE's and OBE's.
But recipients don't just get them - they are asked in advance if they would accept the honor. Now you might think it would be bad manners to turn down a nice woman like the Queen but a minority of people do. Their names have been kept secret until now.
Following a 15-month long battle over a Freedom of Information request, the Daily Telegraph reports that some very prominent folk have said no to honors - or Honours, as the natives spell it.
The list includes: artists Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon and Henry Moore. Film director Alfred Hitchcock and authors, Roald Dahl, Graham Greene and CS Lewis.
Some changed their minds later in life. Still it is a very interesting list. Sadly, as most of the prominent people on it are dead it isn't possible to ask them why.