Day 87

Distancing from its own past

God love the Brits! I suppose somebody has to, and it might as well be her, she being Love, apparently, in one of her guises. The resident, free-range, rogue teenagers would tell you – if they had regained the power of speech that day – that I am wont to employ the word ‘English!’ as a swear word. When I am not using more traditional swear words, that is, a habit out of which Róisín wishes I would grow (out of). She has the same misconception as my Ma and Part-Time Wife (two separate people there, but you are not getting an Oxford comma in here) regarding swear words, namely that they are a sign of a lack of vocabulary. While this can be true of bottom-feeding, unemployed-class scum, tis surely amiss when applied to the urbane sophisticate such as myself. And to other writers too. (It actually says ‘writer’ on the children’s birth certificate under father’s profession as I was unemployed at the time.) Sometimes, fuck is the most appropriate and most effective word for the situation, and sometimes knowing this is a sign of a sophisticated vocabulary. Less often, nigger is the correct word too, but you generally have to be a bit black to use it nowadays, unless you are talking about an Agatha Christie book or using an idiom such as ‘the nigger in the woodpile’.

But the Brits. What are we going to do with them come the Revolution? Like the US of Aers, they will, of course, be close to the front of the queue for the wall, but, also like the US of Aers (if you have not worked out yet why I do not use the word American to refer to inhabitants of the USA, you should go and learn Spanish), the Brits are a very mixed bunch. You have your bog standard, thick as pig’s shit Brit, but you also have the likes of the writer of this article who obviously understands a bit more than your average bear about the general opinion of Britain in what the inveterate colonialists invariably refer to as ‘the rest of the World’.

Is there any chance that now the protesting classes have learnt a drop of history (specialist subject: slavery), they will go on to complete the whole course and, consequently, hang their heads in shame for the rest of their lives? I doubt it, and, as yer man points out, part of the problem lies with the education system and, specifically but not exclusively, the history syllabus taught therein. That is quite apart from the constant churning out of bullshit propaganda about the Past by the BBC Drama Department. Stick an Irishman in charge of the history syllabus to be taught in English schools; that should solve that problem, providing you choose the right Irishman. An Irish woman would be no good; women have this skill of being able to see things from the other side’s point of view, and that is not what is required in this instance. It also, generally, stops them starting wars, which is, on the whole, a good thing. If they could stop men – or even the CIA – from starting wars, we might be on to something.

Speaking of Agatha Christie, and the re-titling of her nigger book, would youse care to take a guess as to what the next target of the virtue-signallers will be after they run our of statues to knock down? This Fawlty Towers episode was briefly censored (‘cancelled’ I think the current term is for getting rid of things that might trigger the sensitive wee souls) before, in a tremendous display of hypocrisy matched only by current pro-trans doublethink, being re-instated due to an outcry by the same great, British public that called for it to be banned in the first place. If de Gaulle actually did once remark that it was impossible to rule a country that had 246 varieties of cheese – and apparently he did – what hope has Boris the Dancing Bear got of finding consensus among a population that disagrees with itself when the wind changes direction?

Which brings me nicely to my favourite retort to Part-Time Wife when she informs me that she has come to a different opinion about some domestic matter of interior decoration that we spent my fortune on. She got a new washing machine the other day, for no discernible reason that I can work out as she still appears to have two hands and the hacienda is replete with running water of both sexes. Anyway, it gave/afforded (choose one or the other, consistent with your taste for low or high blown prose) me the opportunity to drop my bon mot once again, so I do not really mind that I cannot afford the extra expense this month.

“Dearest heart,” I opened, to put her off her guard, “see the next time you change your mind, could you get one that works?”

Shorts with wellies today, ripped T-Shirt and duncher. But I will have a shower, as Part-Time Wife has just thrown a bowl of Cornflakes over me for some reason. Downwards and sidewards; pull down a statue for me if you find yourself in an unthinking mob (there is no other type).


Day 86

Distant Socialising

For a few minutes this morning, I have been trying to work out the most appropriate age for someone to read the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being at. (Those of you who can’t read, look away now; today will be mostly about literature.) [If they can’t read, they can’t read the warning to look away now – Ed.] (They know what I mean.) There is no point going near that book when you are in your twenties, and stay well away from the film at all times – apart from the nude hat scene. I am even inclined to think that thirty-year-olds will not bring enough life experience with them to the act of reading to derive full benefit from Kundera’s book. Save it up until you are forty then, and then make sure you read it more than once as a lot of it will go over your head the first time.

A writer, of course, has no control over the age of his readers, but publishers do, in a way, with they way they categorise books. What is now called Young Adult fiction used to be Children’s Books when I was a young adult, and, to all in temporary, outdoors accommodation and to a category of sea-faring mammals, still are now that I am an old adult. If you are from Norn Iron and did not read the Kevin and Sadie books by Joan Lingard as a child, go and read them now, no matter how young or old an adult you are. It won’t take you long; they are short books. In fact, I still have two of them to read myself as it was only when at university that Denise informed me that there were five books in the series. So I’ll meet you back here after the break.

Finished? Now, wasn’t that enjoyable? Female Teenager, when she read the books, got a great kick out of Kevin’s Da complaining about his sister always being stuck indoors with her nose in a book instead of being out in the street playing with the other children. Presumably partly because he was the opposite of her own Da with his ‘Read, read, read’ mantra. Her Da is still the same, and if he could infect Teenage Boy 1 & 2 with the same disease, he would die a happier man. [Just how happy do you expect to be when you die? -Ed.] The mantra has been amended somewhat though: it now runs, ‘Read, read and read again.’ Because the real test of the worth of a book is how it stands up to re-reading, in that, if a book is worth reading, it is worth reading twice, at least. Otherwise, why the need for bookcases? Logically speaking, apart from those dicks who buy books by the yard for interior decorating, if books were designed for a single reading, we would just throw them in the recycling bin when we finish the last page, having absorbed all their lessons and derived all the pleasure available in them. And there are, indeed, some books that deserve that fate. Dan Brown’s oeuvre springs to mind.

{It’s not very funny today, is it?} (Who are you? And where did you get those fancy brackets from?) {I’m Anonymous, and I wrote a post for you when you were diabled. Use SHIFT and the square bracket sign to get these fancy, twirly ones. Now, where’s the jokes?} (What do you call a deer with no eyes?) {I don’t know.} (No idea.) {Oh, very good, no-eyed deer, I get it.} (What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?) {Give up.} (Still no idea.) {Oh, ho-ho! That’s good.} (There is a third installment but it is not suitable for young adults so I’ll tell you it on email. Is that enough jokes now?) {There was this fairy called Nuff.} (Fairy Nuff?)

So it is nearly time for me to dive into The Unbearable Lightness of Being again, because I enjoy the book so much, but also because being in my fifties might even mean there are more lessons and more pleasure available within its covers for me now. Other books on my re-read list include the two Alice books, which never fail to delight me. The idea that these are children’s books is laughable in itself, but not the biggest laugh available from the works. I also have un-read, Irish-language versions of those two books, but I am saving them up for some time in the increasingly uncertain future. By the looks of things, there might not be any books in the future, as this is the usual order of things: pull down statues, burn books, kill people. By the way, in fiction, you would not get away with the same group of people who so condemned ISIS for pulling down works of art being the very group out on the streets of western democracies now pulling down and destroying works of art, but I may have said that before.

Back to publishers and how they categorise books for marketing and selling purposes. Literary Fiction is the category serious writers aim for, because Adult Fiction means a whole other thing. {What?} (You again? Well, as you like your jokes, Adult Fiction is mostly for one-handed reading.) But surely the publishers can do better than this and start categorising books for adult into age-specific categories? For example, 21-32 year-olds, 37-45 year-olds, that sort of thing. Or have wee warning notices on the front like some CDs have: “This work contains adult ideas that could offend you when you are too young to understand them.”

God love young people and their earnestness and idealism. The only redeeming aspect of it is that they will grow out of it. Now leave JK Rowling alone.

And wash your minds with a book.