My Weekend Review

The arrogance of our politicians has hit new heights recently and become intolerably crass.

We had first Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip, who taunted a policeman guarding the gates to 10 Downing Street with abusive language for not allowing him to ride his bicycle for the rest of the short distance.

Mitchell remained defiant despite the uproar that followed this undignified fracas with the policeman, who was simply doing his duty, until last Friday evening when he tendered his resignation to the PM.

Hardly had we got over this respite, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne created a fresh indignity by travelling first class while holding a standard class ticket.

When apprehended for sitting in the wrong carriage and asked to move his female assistant tried to persuade the guard to let him keep his first class seat, without paying the extra fare. It didn’t work. He was forced to pay £160 for the upgrade.

The fuss that ensued when the press got hold of the story was predictable, since members of this government behave as if they are above the law in view of their position.

This latest smear was followed by yet another. The army minister, Mr Andrew Robathan, was accused of insulting war veterans when  he demanded their eviction from the Commons public gallery because they were too noisy. To boot them out would have been an unforgivable affront to the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives serving the nation.

‘Who do they think they are?’ was the headline in Saturday’s Daily Mail, referring to the three ministers above.

This clique of elitist men chosen by the PM have no shame whatsoever, and unless they are brought to heel very quickly will cause irreparable damage to the shaky government whose members are a motley of bunglers, who suffer delusions of grandeur, and are incapable of restraining their fully blown egotism.

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I can’t for the life of me throw light on what people see in Rylan Clark, one of the contestants on The X Factor, to keep him on the show at the expense of others who are more worthy than him.

Is it because they saw his bare bottom in the newspapers following a jaunty night out with his X Factor pal Lucy Spraggan, who managed at least to cover up his man bits? I sincerely hope that his penis will not be in full view the next time round – otherwise the public might decide to back him all the way to the finals.

Judge Gary Barlow, who is much more competent than I’ll ever be regarding modern musical talent – being an accomplished pop star himself – hates his act with a passion I have rarely seen.

Rylan’s display is too camp for my liking, his voice much too ordinary to be competitive, and his gestures and movement of the body too seedy to beguile those of us who worship elegance through a life-enhancing entertainment.

Or, am I becoming a boring old fart, unappreciative of an avant-garde presentation of a new generation of performers whose art falls foul of a long-held perception that an eye-pleasing display is the pivot of any enduring form of entertainment?

I might have to eat my words if by a freak of nature I find myself cast away for failing to recognise the vagaries of a fast-moving trend, which I find totally alien.

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Have we become a nation of sycophants, who can’t tell the difference between real talent and one created by the media for purely commercial reasons?

Why would a publisher pay an astronomical advance of £400,000 to Pippa Middleton to write a silly book about a planning guide for parties, when the book trade is suffering the most severe recession the likes of which I have not experienced for nearly four decades?

What does that tell you – except that flippancy and frivolity coupled with royal connections have invaded a distinguished trade where quality was at one time the defining factor.

Would the same publisher have accepted the book if she were a plain Miss Middleton, let alone given her such a disgraceful advance?

What would also be the reaction of talented writers who’d be lucky to have a book published for a meagre advance of less than £1,000? These are potentially the stars of the future whose contribution to the literary wealth of the nation will be immense and far beyond what we are seeing today.

Maeve Binchy, whose first three books were published by Quartet, was paid a mere pittance and rose to become one of the greatest writers of her generation.

But I doubt if Pippa Middleton will be able to achieve the same kind of accolade with her book, Celebrate. In fact I feel very strongly that such a ridiculous advance will send the wrong signal to the majority of young writers who are struggling for recognition despite their budding talent.

The greed for money should not derail the basic principles of publishing, which are quality and durability.

I hope publishers will dust themselves down from publishing such trash in order to follow the vogue of the day, wake up from their slumber and revert to the old traditions that have outlasted the variegation of time.

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