When King Morbidus heard the pitiful complaint that the people made of this beast, he trusted so much in his own courage and strength, that with great hardihood he went alone against the monster, for hardy he was beyond measure. However, I have often heard that he is a fool who confides in his own hardihood, for too great hardihood produces rashness, and rashness is not valour.
King Morbidus accordingly went eagerly and boldly against this sea-monster, for greatly he desired to see it, neither would he allow any of his people to bear him company. When he came near enough to the monster, he pierced it with many arrows, and threw several darts into its body, by which the beast was sorely wounded in many places. When king Morbidus had used all his darts and arrows, he drew his sword, and struck the cruel monster so hard a blow that the sword broke, and the king, who had gone so near, could not withdraw, ere the marvellous beast had opened his mouth and swallowed him…
This little parable came to me via the great (well, he’s the great on Facebook) Stephen Ellcock. If you click on the picture you will see wondrous and alarming things.
It put me in mind of the sense in which we’re beset.
Mitt Romney says ‘middle income’ starts at about $200-250K. Then he says he doesn’t need to worry about poor people, and within a day or so we suddenly realise that he’s said 47% of the US population are dossers.
Then a Tory politician says young people should ‘busk to raise their fares to look for work’, basing this helpful idea on something Charles Saatchi says he did when he was starting out.
Embassies burn, the US envoy to Libya is killed, and in the same week his memoir is published, Salman Rushdie receives another death threat.
Naomi Wolf. (No, really. That’s all I can bear to say. But here.)
New NHS shocks almost every week, the GCSE is to be replaced by an English Baccalaureate, and one of my two pairs of jeans that fit has worn through after only 6 months (modern tat).
The arctic ice is melting at record speeds – 18% in a year, is this just the increase? – and scientists have just discovered incontrovertible evidence that climate change is man-made. Gas bills are set to rise by up to 30% this winter, and food prices are also about to skyrocket due to drought on the one hand and drenching on the other. We’ve completely forgotten ‘The greenest government ever’.
Kate Middleton is the light relief (if you ignore the articles asking What does it all mean!?): our favourite topless harlot (as if anyone can possibly be shocked by a bit of topless sunbathing in private premises) in the same week the papers are plastered with her image, appearing variously as a plaster-of-paris Virgin, Princess Diana, the Queen, and ingenue supreme. Interestingly, last week’s picture of her husband, being carried on a litter by a team of black natives (sorry), made Wills look as if he was somehow morphing into Chevy Chase. Confusion all round. (And then some wag said that one of the litter-bearers had ‘better tits than Kate’, which is frankly not helpful on either score.)
George Galloway does it again, and to be honest I can’t understand why, on his past record, the Muslim women of Bradford were so patient with him in the first place. I read a piece where one of them tried to explain how they weren’t just being naive, and it was a bit painfully naive.
Nick Clegg’s bizarre filmed apology for ‘making a pledge’ not to raise student fees – only to find that it was not possible to keep it – was only even barely watchable in the spoof ‘autotune remix’.
He’s lying, of course: that goes without saying. The government is now footing a bigger bill than ever, stumping up for those fees. It’s actually creating more deficit, not less. If the money really wasn’t there, they couldn’t have done it. Liar liar. His pants would be on fire if he wasn’t a sea monster.
Now some government oik comes out and tells the Downing Street security policemen that they were a bunch of ‘fucking plebs’.
Well, yes. But then I suppose my idea of what constitutes ill breeding is hopelessly bourgeois. (and far be it from me to claim never to have lost my temper out of frustration. Heavens no! But what you say when you lose your temper does expose you.)
The common thread here – sorry to go on so long – is that no one is making any sense. Satire and parable are the only realistic forms of commentary left.
So last week, amid rising nerves, rising expenses and suppressed emotion, I did safely deposit Mlle B oop north – driving (not me driving, you understand: a friend, who is also the recent ex) past Dennis Skinner country and Ian McMillan country, straight into Ian Duhig country (but avoiding Galloway country). So the Clegg Apology was perfectly timed: I posted it straight up on the Facebook wall of Mlle B, as she enjoyed (not very much) modern history’s most expensive freshers’ week.
Your correspondent responded to the atmosphere of the occasion, however, by managing to leave her coat behind. It was all a bit of a rush, everything suddenly happened fast, and everyone was crying or trying not to cry, and Mlle B had a compulsory halls meeting she had to get to… The coat was sacrificed, I’d get it back soon, I could wear something else for a week…
So it was not not until nearly Leicester that the characteristic ringtone sounded. ‘She’d better not be ringing to tell me anything bad’, says me, wiping the tears from where they have been rolling for the past two hours.
‘Mummy’, says Mlle B down the phone. ‘Your keys are in your coat pocket’.
Suffice to say that, while Rome burned, it took me till 2pm the next day, after the long drive to Crystal Palace, some slightly weird Costcutter wine and an overnight and journey back up across London, to attain entry to the Halls of Baroque. And when I finally lurched in past the locksmith and flung a pile of greens into the guinea pig cage (known normally as ‘Versailles’), Frank and Chet fell upon them like little starved plebs.
I have a new-found respect for locks.
One of the girls, not at uni, is the new spare-set-of-new-keys-bearer, and last week she helped me carry a big table up three flights of stairs, that I’d found on the pavement. It’s exactly the size of the pigs’ little pen, and exactly what I needed. (Thank you for that, Universe.) The girls are going to be a big help to me, I can see: we’re all missing our Mlle.
And I then (leaving the pigs in her good hands) went off to the wonderful King’s Lynn Poetry Festival, of which more later. I had in fact written most of this post before I went, but just somehow never published it. It sits well as a precursor to something about the weekend, which will go up as soon as possible, i.e., maybe next month.
In the meantime, here’s the deal. ‘We’re all in it together.’ None of us can do anything on our own: we are all riding on each other, and the sea monster will only be vanquished by everyone working together. There IS such a thing as society, there is no solitary citizen and there can be no solitary hero.
And metaphor is the new realism.
One could say that those men in the foreground, above, are the poets. You can see the two on the right: ‘It’s a bit abstract; we have to make them SEE the monster…’