Some people – an obsessive environmental health officer from Huddersfield, for instance – hate Inspector Gadget and PC Bloggs to the point where I think it probably affects their quality of life. The aforementioned chap is constantly trying to leave messages here and elsewhere; how you can harbour such a burning dislike of someone you don’t know is a mystery to me.
The general tenor of the abuse varies, and its meaning is actually sometimes hard to discern, but a recent line of attack concerned the suggestion that Bloggs is ‘corrupt’. A less corrupt person than Ms E E Bloggs you would go a long way to meet, but there it is.
Anyway, on her behalf, we have recently sent a sizeable four figure cheque to Rape Crisis, and a second, smaller one to the Police Roll of Honour Trust. She does this with all her royalty cheques, and because she won’t mention it herself I thought we should. Over the years, she has sent a lot of money to these and other charities; Gadget also has charities he (or she) supports.
I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy recently. I don’t remember the 1970s being that depressing. Perhaps modern kids won’t remembers to 2008-20?? period as being as grim as it looks to adults? This is an interesting review of that film, from the moral equivalence angle. I recommend Paul Hollander’s From the Killing Fields to the Gulag if you don’t get the point.
Finally, we’ve just agreed with Theodore Dalrymple that we will republish all of his old work, written as Anthony Daniels, in eBook format. This includes classics such as Monrovia Mon Amour, Zanzibar to Timbuktu and The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World.
As usual, the writing is excellent. Here he is in Liberia, enjoying a discussion of British press ethics and then meeting Prince Y Johnson, who smoked cigars while his men tortured President Samuel Doe to death in front of him:
Back in the Olympic, when we ran short of other things to talk about, we discussed the ethics of photography and the question of whether it was ever permissible, for the sake of art, for photographers to improve upon the arrangement of things (including bodies) as they were found, as it were, in nature. The British photographers argued that it was sometimes permissible, because it was equally possible to lie with the camera by means either of the selection of what was photographed in the first place or of subsequent editing. (How many people realised, for instance, that the famous picture of the Vietnamese girl running screaming along the road originally included a host of press photographers trotting alongside her taking pictures, who were later edited out Trotsky-like. in the interests of higher historical truth?)
But the Swiss photographer, Michel, argued that it was impermissible under any and all circumstances to rearrange things as they were found: indeed, he appeared shocked that his British colleague should already have slid so far down the slippery lope of amoral relativism. Needless to say, the discussion had some bearing on writing as well as photography, but I remained tactfully silent.
Scott secured our trouble-free entry into Johnson’s stronghold b the donation of two cigarettes to the guards, who received them with glee, but were not quite as ecstatic as the two Frelimo soldiers I recalled on the road from Beira to Zimbabwe, who literally danced (barefoot) for joy when I gave them a single cigarette between them. (And when I arrived in Tanzania, I discovered that cigarettes were sold in the market by neither the carton nor the pack, and not even by the whole cigarette, but by the single inhaled drag.)
We continued on our way and a mile or two further on arrived at Johnson’s house. Surrounding it was an astonishing collection of luxury cars: Mercedes, BMWs and even a Jaguar. There were stranded American monsters, too, in mourning for the expressways they had exchanged for the rough laterite roads of Africa, and tinted-windowed four-wheel drive vehicles of the type favoured by death squads in Latin America. Whatever else one might say against Johnson, his collection of cars made it clear that he was no starry-eyed egalitarian.
Johnson was just emerging from the house with his entourage. He was powerfully built, of average height, and dressed in a chic green jumpsuit. On one breast was pinned a brass scorpion, the badge of his movement; on the other, military decorations, whether self-inflicted I never asked. He wore dark glasses and in his hand, almost like a child’s comforter, he carried a sophisticated walkie-talkie. Seeing a delegation of foreigners, he at once began to bark importantly into it. His anxiety to impress with his command of technology was so transparent that it would have been endearing or comical, had one forgotten that only a couple of days beforehand he had killed seven people with a similar command of technology.
He aborted for the moment the tour of his little kingdom that he was about to make, to grant us an audience. Publicity came first. There was no doubting his charisma: in any crowd of men he would have drawn attention to himself, not by his antics but merely by his presence. There was nothing small about either his gestures or his emotions; when he smiled, his broad row of sparkling white teeth reminded me of a shark.