Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 29 December 2012
Do you remember 'Elf Yourself' the last few Christmases? I have been trying to find a simulator to replicate the awful, monotonous drone of Will Self, the bloke who swallowed a dictionary about 20 years ago, and has been regurgitating it ever since.
When he first appeared in my peripheral vision, it was as the author of the novel entitled 'The North London Book of the Dead', and I bought it just for the title alone. The basic plot hinged on the narrator taking a walk in a particularly far-flung suburb of North London, and bumping into his mother, who had been dead for some time. His mother explains it away by saying something like, "This is where everyone goes when they die" and that one line made me laugh out loud.
I tried reading some of Self's subsequent books, but found them too full of psychological angst and symbolism, as if he was trying to unravel his years of addiction to various narcotics - basically, as far as I was concerned, he had lost his sense of humour and that - to my mind - means you should keep your mouth shut until it returns, for fear of boring everyone shitless.
I am sure, though, that he must have seen the funny side of it when he was appointed the post of restaurant critic to a large newspaper, during the height of his dalliance with cocaine.
I don't know whether or not you have tried to eat even a sandwich after snorting a gram or two of the white stuff, but let me tell you that to eat a three-course meal under the influence would be an almost super-human feat. He eventually lost his job when the manager of a high-class establishment began to get suspicious as he and his dining companion toyed with the food for an hour or two, during which time more visits were made to the lavatory than would be strictly necessary for anyone who was not suffering from dysentery. No restauranteur actually wants to entertain anyone with an infectious gastric problem, or - for that matter - wants a review of their establishment to be written by anyone with one, let alone a coke-head, and the game was uncovered.
In any event, he is not quite the material for an anonymous diner, being about six feet seven inches tall with the face that you see glaring out of the picture at the header. His best book cover by far was a picture of an ape dressed in a tweed suit, dolefully staring into the viewer's eyes. The ape was an uncannily good morph between a human and a real ape, and I have a strong feeling that Self's eyes may have been used as the 'human' bit.
So he went back to writing books, but appeared every now and then on TV and radio shows as some sort of talking head whose opinions were supposed to be so worth listening to, that The Nation should be prepared to put up with his monotone drawl, just for the sake of the content. He must have a bloody good agent.
He finally settled into what he has been doing best, ever since he was a lanky schoolboy with a small but tight clique of sycophantic sociopaths - sneering at other people and their weaknesses.
Last night I listened to his latest cooked-up opinions on the over-consumption of food at Christmas time, on a 15 minute guest-slot of BBC radio, aptly entitled, 'A Point of View'.
I say 'listened', but - as I am sure was the intention - I only half-listened to it, because I was eating at the time and it began to put me off my meagre meal of salmon in cream with lumpfish caviar sauce and purple sprouting broccoli.
Yes, of course, I find certain aspects of indulgence during feast days repulsive, but I find speculation on food as a commodity even more repulsive, if only one person in the world goes hungry through want. I find deliberate attempts to turn others off their food just as repulsive, whether or not they are over-fed and whether or not they are over-indulging in the same way as Mr Self used to over-indulge in alcohol and narcotics - I don't remember anyone expressing justified disgust in that activity when it was going on, though I do remember expressions of pity for people who had to spend a few bitter years trying to get clean of heroin, even if it was in expensive clinics that only the rich can afford.
Self's last line in his tirade yesterday was, "And if this has put you off that After Eight chocolate mint - good".