Monday, 3 March 2014

You can take the man out of prison...

Em has just belatedly commented that it is a shame that Germaine has lost a follower with her recent ill-informed foray into the world of eco-bollocks, and her massively helpful comments directed toward all the floating voters currently watching the Levels being topped up on a daily basis in the flattest part of Somerset.

Well, I have never really been a follower of Germaine (surprise), and I responded by saying that she has always been a deeply silly person, and age hasn't improved her. In a nutshell, it takes a combination of colossal silliness and similarly sized egocentricity to come out with the sort of fatuous and half thought-out ideas about really serious issues that she has been specialising in for over 40 years now.

I used to imagine myself mellowing with age, but the only wisdom that age brings - in my experience - is the knowledge that the worst personal traits that we all possess to one degree or another, will always be magnified through backward telescope of time, though they look smaller to us as we peer down the wrong end of the objective lens, and we look even sillier when we do this in public.

I have a friend who is proud of being set in his ways, but the trouble is that he stopped thinking about things at the very point of his early retirement. He stopped listening to other people too, and pretends to be deaf if he is challenged when formulating his response to a sentence put to him by someone else, long before the sentence is finished. His mother did him no favours all the way through his upbringing, but the most damage she ever did to him was to die and leave him enough money to stop thinking for the rest of his life.

I had a brief role-model at the age of about 50, and he took the form of a huge and benign country gentleman who doted on his grandchildren, taking them for long walks across the Somerset Levels (yes, them again), all the time feigning utter enthralment with every tiny discovery or event in their little lives.

Freddy had suffered the most appalling torture under the Japanese during WW2, having been captured in command of a mountain gun-battery on the North West Frontier. As an ex inmate of Changi Gaol, I couldn't believe how well adjusted he was to ordinary Somerset family life in the years of peacetime, but after he died, his children hinted at a darker side to him which he kept well hidden from his adored grandchildren.

His wife went looking for him on the morning of V.J. Day, and not finding him in the house, suspected that he had just wandered off on one of his usual walks, possibly to feed a pet pheasant which had adopted him, not knowing that he quite often shot his brothers in the air if they happened to fly over him when he had a gun in his hand.

When he didn't return within the usual time he spent on these walks, his wife looked a little harder for him, and found him hiding in a broom-cupboard beneath the stairs, which was roughly the same proportions as his solitary cell in Changi.

Some prisons are self-made, and some song-birds will choose a cage when faced with the insecurity of freedom in the vast, outside world.


  1. At last someone says how it really is about that apology for a woman, called Germaine Greer.!!!!.. Not one person in Australia would have given her air space to breath, let alone write her observations on life and universe, so she came to England and bored the pants off all of us.. For years we have politely let her write and air her views on radio and television, but we are sooo bored of her ideas and views.. now we shut up and ignore, so she gets bolder and more stupid each time she opens her mouth.. Thank you for your comments, I agree whole heartedly and wish the woman would just disappear.. Whichever way you look at it, these floods have been disastrous and hurt a lot of families.. it will take a long time for them to recover from the trauma, and they will find a way to cope.. just like that man you described, hiding away and putting on a front 'face' so no one really understood his terrible fears after such an experience he had at that awful place.. There are a lot of unsung heroes and we should all just shut up and help out where we can.. Have a super week Mister, and thank you for sharing your considerably clever and interesting thoughts here in blog land.. janzi

    1. Well, I find her a mild irritation, but not quite as blood-pressure-increasing as you do by the sound of it. There's always an of-switch, and we don't have to buy the books, I suppose.

  2. On murmurations ... I don't know if you've seen this:
    but it is worth the girls' laugh at the end.

    1. Yes, I've seen it before but it's great to see it again. I love those two girls. Shame about the bloody choice of music, though. Oh well, there's no pleasing everyone, eh?

  3. Sorry janzi but your take annoys me. (Yours too Tom.)

    Greer annoys me too but at least she has a lifetime of being annoying behind her.
    It's easy to slag off someone who has taken on the mainstream media consistently over forty years, piss everyone off and still stay lucid and alive. Not many of those folk are still around. They've died of heart attacks, drug overdoses or obscurity. She's still giving everyone the shits. Good on her. If she were a bloke, say one of her ilk who gather no moss, we would call her an ageing rock star and grant her national treasure status.
    She'd be mortified.

    It's not just her Antipodean status that I'm cleaving to here. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can burn hot and bright decade after decade.

    1. She is one of the few woman authors that really do annoy me, Sarah - I could list about 50 times more men that are worse.

      Spending a lifetime being a boring arsehole and still being able to string a few sentences together in the Autumn of your days is - in my opinion - no justification for blindly carrying on doing so until you die.

      Like I say above, she is one of the few, older women writers who I really do not admire over and above a whole host of boring and opinionated men, and I suspect that this is because the ones that I really do admire have not spent their entire careers fighting against what they perceive to be a man's world.

      Ageing rock-stars turn into national treasures because they have been tolerated as national jokes for so long without cracking up through self-doubt, and the ones which die through overdoses etc, have never really been tested.

      She has never burnt 'hot and bright'! That's the whole point. She just smoulders through lack of oxygen, then claws her way to the surface until she gets some again.

      Having said this, I am sure I would have a soft spot for her if I ever met her, but I know a few people who have, and they have not. I'm quite generous really, honest.

  4. I repeat what I said previously 'intelligent, but misguided'.

  5. To me she is an all too common phenomenon...write a book which stirs up controversy and sit back and watch the goodies roll in.
    Just stay' controversial' and you'll be a talking head for years to come.

    Her views on female genital mutilation - the importance of the cultural context - struck me as decidedly specious.
    Of course you need to replace one social rite by another - as in Papua New Guinea where you substitute pigs for people in an attempt to eradicate cannibalism - but it doesn't make the original social rite something worth retaining.

    She hasn't, in my view, taken on the mainstream media...she has hollowed out a niche within it.

    1. Taking on controversy for controversy's sake is an old Daily Mail trick. The essence of this ploy is that it doesn't matter at all what people say about you, just so long as they actually talk about you.

      Someone has to pay for that fucking rain-forest, in the same way that someone had to pay for all Fergie's credit card bills.

    2. Changing the subject ( only a tad) could you comment on " my" candlesticks?

    3. Done - for what it's worth. Don't ever accuse me of boring you with candlesticks again. I'll have you know I sold one stick for £450 only the other week. The cost to me? £450. That's business.