Here begins a semi-regular feature at this blog — my feeble attempt to undo the 20+ years of brainwashing some of you have been obliged to endure, and to ameliorate your boundless cultural illiteracy and ignorance. You can’t stay young and stupid forever, mostly because you’re pissing me off.
You see, once upon a time, before blue bins and transvestite-only restrooms and the chronic overuse of the word “inappropriate” — some of us were almost free.
And it was considered quite natural that we would look to our betters for lessons on speech and behaviour, rather than to washed up, no-talent, Order of Canada strivers and party-line belchers of this week’s received liberal wisdom.
This taste for the calculatedly distasteful even extended to his wine columns: he compared one wine to “a bunch of dead chrysanthemums on the grave of a still-born West Indian baby”. He ruthlessly used these columns, and the Spectator Wine Club, to stock his own cellar. Waugh was never squeamish about journalistic ethics. Once he discovered the delights of the “freebie”, he gave breathless accounts of his trips to the Orient, and the wonderful “Thai two-girl massage”.
Sometimes his abuse was random. Watching television of an evening, Waugh caught the Tchaikovsky bio-pic, The Music Lovers. “Hideous woman, dreadful film. One can’t really blame Tchaikovsky for preferring boys. Anyone might become a homosexual who had once seen Glenda Jackson naked.”
If that sounded childish, Waugh’s writing was valued by good judges. Anthony Howard took on Waugh for the New Statesman, where he wrote some of his best columns for what he imagined was his typical reader, a bad-tempered leftwing woman teacher in the Midlands.
Cockroaches may fulfil an important role in reducing our present obsession with animals to absurdity. Not even. New Labour will quite dare pass a law forbidding people to kill cockroaches in their own homes. There used to be a song many years ago which remonstrated with people who ate Brussels sprouts on the grounds that they were robbing a cabbage of its young, and reminded us that every lettuce has a heart. It was satirically intended, of course, but the sad truth is that the animal welfare industry, with its millions of dollars from American sentimentalists, is a formidable power in the land. As soon as it has stopped people from hunting, shooting and fishing it will move to protecting caterpillars in our gardens.
Its chief officer in this country would appear to be a large young man called Neil Hansen. From a conventional, middle class background, he is now a full-time activist living on welfare, and foolishly allows himself to be photographed in the newspapers, usually demonstrating outside someone’s home. He seems to embody the great animal movement. I wish him no particular harm, but I must confess to a fantasy, that if ever I find myself in the unpleasant situation of having to squash a cockroach, I shall shut my eyes and imagine that it is Neil Hansen under my shoe. I hope it does not hurt too much.