Say it loud - I'm elitist and proud

Thursday, November 21, 2002

VELCRO! It's all a baby really needs.

I just want something to get baby sick off the carpet.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

LOOK! UP IN THE SKY! IT'S STRAW MAN! Or in this case, straw women.

Tim Blair has already highlighted Margo's attempts to live out the stereotype of the we-brought-it-on-ourselves lefty intellectual.

In the Straw Stakes, my new favourite scarecrow is the Independent's Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. She was the Edwardian Country House dinner guest from hell - at least from Sir John's point of view. Then in the wake of October 12 she attacked Australians for treating Bali as Costa del Yob (now there's a straw man argument) and then for leaving. In other words, for being there - and then for not being there.

I am not saying people deserved this appalling fate just because they loved sex, surf and sand...

Then why mention it?
but we must become more aware what risks come into play when so little real connection exists between us and the people of the places we love to visit.

More straw: how do you know they had no connection? Not every Bali visitor wants to be insulated from the locals - who are surely part of the reason people want to go there rather than Surfer's Paradise.
As a black Briton I have other questions too about our relationship with Australia and the lack of criticism of that country, its history and the thousands of Australians who flood into small, over-crowded Britain, which we are told, will sink if one more Iraqi or Kenyan enters it. Look around you; white Australians are ministers, pop stars, editors, pundits, authors, even human-rights lawyers. They have been able to get to places blacks cannot dream of...So, where are these people of massive influence when it comes to the inhumane asylum policies of their government?...Geoffrey Robertson, Patricia Hewitt, Kylie Minogue, Clive James, Pamela Anderson, where are you?

Pamela Anderson? Isn't she Canadian? I suppose Yasmin assumes that anyone blonde, pneumatic and wearing a swimsuit must be Australian. Britain is apparently being 'flooded' by Or-straylians who form ghettos (like Earl's Court and the upper levels of the British arts and political establishments) and don't assimilate. We seem to be the one ethnic group in Britain not protected by the Race Relations Act.

Well, I thought I'd found a scarecrow: but then she wrong-foots me and goes and writes things like 'Let's not forget our own Muslim intolerance', 'Black history should never be safe history - Africans in Britain should be discussing the part played by their ancestors in the slave trade' and 'Manipulative as she was, Hindley didn't fool me'. Pity she's still so aggressively self-righteous.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

I'M NOT sure if history is actually sexy yet, but biography certainly seems to be - at least when Amanda Foreman writes it.

She gave this speech at Queen Mary College, University of London on 13 November:

Biography remains a commercial enterprise. It is judged by reviewers and book sales, thereby freeing writers from the dulling grip of departmental orthodoxy.
Unfortunately, this freedom is coupled with almost total isolation from the history community...
If the public shies away from academic history, it is because, unlike biography, it seems to lack narrative.

She was speaking at the launch of Queen Mary's new Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. Also involved in the launch was David 'Rudest Man in Britain' Starkey. He's clearly a very busy man: the book club of which I'm a member informs me that his latest book on the six wives of Henry VIII, which they'd promised, now won't be available till the new year. And his own website has been about to be 'relaunched shortly' for several months. He's not an idler like me, but maybe he's spreading himself too thin?