Not Saussure

March 20, 2007

His finger on the pulse

Filed under: Books, Politics — notsaussure @ 7:27 pm

Attempts by Gordon Brown and those around him to present Mr Brown as being in tune with popular opinion and taste have not always been wholly successful — the Arctic Monkey débâcle springs to mind, particularly when it turned out he meant Coldplay (an easy mistake — Arctic, Cold … all these beat combos the young people like so much sound pretty much the same to me, too) but he’s gone some way to redeeming himself.

The news that he has a very cynical view of his cabinet colleagues and that he treats them ‘with more or less complete contempt’ does no more, to my mind, show that he is, after all, capable of perfectly normal human reactions. (On the subject of which, Devil’s Kitchen — who, if anything can unnerve him, is probably slightly perturbed to find himself in agreement with the Chancellor — has found a wonderful, and not at all safe for work, video comment on Peter Hain)

I can’t even get particularly upset about the news he has a ‘very cynical view of mankind’ and not just because it would be a tad hypocritical were I to pretend so to be.

Ask yourself, would you feel more confident to learn that the man who’s almost certain to be our next Prime Minister had spent the last 10 years working with most of the people whose governance we’ve had the good fortune to enjoy — in particular Mr Blair, of course — had come through the experience confirmed in an idealistic view of his fellow men and women? Come to think about it, would you feel that confident any Prime Minister known for his trusting and idealistic view of people’s motives?

That doesn’t, of course, mean that he should himself necessarily behave cynically. Obviously it would be insulting to compare a fictional detective with the Chancellor; Raymond Chandler would be spinning in his grave if I did (as, come to think of it, would my late father, who always recommended Philip Marlowe to me as a fair model of conduct in a difficult situation), but I think Chandler’s ideal private eye —

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor– by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.

He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks — that is, with a rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.

— sounds a far better man to trust than most MPs. And who could deny the country would be a better place were most of the government to catch a blackjack right behind their ear, find a black pool open up at their feet, dive in and find It had no bottom?

Justin, at Chicken Yoghurt, is, I see, thinking on rather similar lines (about Brown rather than the blackjack, but he may well agree about that, too).

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  1. You’ve taken us on a long journey through this post, with many twists and turns. I hope I’ve emerged unscathed.

    Comment by jameshigham — March 20, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

  2. I assure you notsausure, that I am not guilty of decapitating either of Gordon Brown’s or Joseph Stalin’s heads and swapping them around. I admit that I had the idea and passed it on to ronkneesrantsandraves who drew the henchman’s part. The scaffold has been erected on the village green over at Myhaven. Usual address.

    Comment by jailhouselawyer — March 20, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

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