And so Morrissey is getting in on the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha. For American readers, the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was in hospital; two Australian DJs rang the hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, and thereby obtained information about the patient. They then broadcast the phone call. The nurse who took the call committed suicide soon after. Morrissey blames the Royal Family for it all. And because he’s a rock star his opinions are apparently worth taking seriously. Here is a picture of the Australian DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, grinning:
The whole thing leaves a bad taste. Some remarks:
1. It is shameful to call a hospital, pretending to be a pregnant patient’s in-laws, especially in order to obtain medical information. To then use this medical information for titillation, to have a larf innit, and to get attention and so promote one”s own career, is disgusting and immoral. Regardless of the patient, this should be immediately apparent.
2. Today, i read in an interview with Theodore Dalrymple:
Certainly I am worried about a shallowness in the human personality that, if I may so put it, appears to be deepening. Even such things as the electronic media of communication, for those unfortunate enough to have been brought up with them, seem to hollow out human relations, making them extensive rather than intensive. As to derided ideas such as humility, proper deference and so forth, I think we live in an age of inflamed egotism, and of individualism without individuality. Never has it been more necessary, and at the same time more difficult, to mark yourself out as an individual.
The personae of the Mel Greig and Michael Christian seem to me very modern. Almost all my temp handlers, back in my 5 years of minimum wage data entry, looked like this pair. i remember a male handler at Brook Street in Leeds who looked exactly like Michael Christian; and almost every female handler looked like Greig. 50 + pound haircuts, the right car, power suit, go out on Friday and get smashed in that exclusive club for managers, watch the footie, listening to Arctic Monkeys, get a manicure, getting on, getting ahead, lovin it, never had it better, England punching above its weight, Cool Britannia and so on. Smug, big city types, narcissistic and contemptuous.
As i’ve found with apple polishers – whether the uneducated type in Leeds or the educated polishers at the Dabbler – they despise people like me, and so i don’t tend to get on with them. They are the type of people who, when i was a temp, decided not to use me because i went to university and don’t look like a footballer; or in the case of the Dabbler, they decided to delete my work because i didn’t supplicate to them, didn’t defer and tug my forelock and appropriately cower before their wholesome family values, brown-nosing, getting-on, I’m All Right Jack, South of England, mortgage, car, family, managerial, belly-patting piece worldview. They are all thorough-going materialists of course, though the Dabbler polishers have a soft spot for religious art and so on, they dabble in religion as part of their narcissism – they like to take just enough to add spice to their materialism. But believe in God? Poh! Have any experience of a reality beyond the purely material? No, no, dear sir, that will not do. Another Chardonnay?
i shit on them like Sergeant Barnes.
3. Apple polishers have no morality. Whatever they may say, they only believe in one thing: getting on. It’s not that they are evil, they just don’t care about anything except material success, because they cannot credit anything beyond the material. Greig and Christian are not evil-doers. They don’t even have the intensity for evil. They are just apple polishers. If their society valued modesty and humility, they would be ostentatiously humble and modest.
With the demise of Christianity, apple polishing has a free hand. It’s not that there were not polishers in the past; but i think there was often a doubt, perhaps God will condemn me?,something to offset the polishing (one could take men like St Francis or even Jesus as exemplars of anti-polishing). Polishing, as a general trend, is extremely flexible and can exploit anything – even an anti-polisher religion – but it is better to have a standard to hold against polishing, than nothing at all.
Greig & Christian merely reflect society. They are the clearest manifestations of a general polishing tendency, which goes along with a total lack of shame. Shame is the fear of divine judgement; embarrassment is the fear of other men’s judgement. i believe that Greig & Christian, weeping in recent interviews, feel not shame but embarrassment, and horror at losing their polishing careers, for which they doubtless polished so hard. If they were capable of feeling shame, they would have felt it when making the original call. It would not have been necessary to harangue and castigate them.
When politicians talk about restricting the press, i feel this is misguided. The Australian radio station would not have run such a show, 80 years ago. It would have been shocking and appalling and attracted immediate and widespread horror and disgust. The problem is not to do with the laws but the culture, the people; and culture is so nebulous and incalculable a thing, that no government edict is likely to do any good, especially not in our time. The governments of the last few decades have systematically dismantled the centers of culture, and so it is unlikely they would suddenly defend it.
4. Jacintha Saldanha was Indian. She only moved to England when she was my age. A potted biography suggest she was like some other Indians i’ve met in England, who seemed English in the best, now largely eradicated, sense – honourable, hard-working, diligent, brave. Many people claim she must have killed herself for wholly other reasons but i think it is possible she felt ashamed of betraying a confidence. To most modern Brits, apple polishers etc., this would be incomprehensible, just as the spirit of Durham Cathedral or the Battle of Maldon would be incomprehensible, only matter for ironic jeering and witty remarks and dinner party anecdotes. But the quality i think of as “Englishness” seems more often found in educated Indians than in the chavs and materialist Southrons. Perhaps it is because India is a country with a strong (and weird) spirituality, which at times reminds me of the European Middle Ages – so a man can be hideously avaricious and suddenly become penitential and monastic, and truly religious.
5. When one considers a culture, the decisive forces are sometimes large (wars etc.) but quite often small (individuals). When it comes to religion, the small is essential – the individual, alone and strange before a god. i feel that if anything is to be reborn from the ashes of our culture, from this sump of apple polishers, it will begin far from the public eye, it will be almost invisible. The visible too easily enters the sphere of the polisher, of grinning DJs, celebrity, Dabblers, media, popularity and applause. The real powers are invisible. Here, polishers see nothing. Here, only a god can judge.