Monday, 24 March 2014

Martin and Me.

I watched an hour-long documentary tonight in which Martin Amis talked about the essence of Englishness. Although some of what he said had a slight whiff of jingoism about it, and though I found his constant use of ‘England’ and ‘English’ in contexts which referred to the whole of Great Britain a little jarring, his body language and method of delivery appealed sufficiently to make him worth listening to.

(I usually find this to be so: chemistry is far more important to me than whether or not our views accord. I would far rather spend time arguing with somebody I like than agreeing with somebody I dislike.)

Any hint of pretention in Amis was negated by an equal hint of the saturnine; and, unlike so many of the people whose faces and opinions air in the media these days, he was at least articulate without being stuffy. And so I listened and was entertained.

At one point he talked about the difference between American and British dating ads. He said that American males are in the habit of overselling themselves, while British males tend to undersell themselves as a method of coping with congenital insecurity. I decided to write my own dating ad just to see where it would go:

English gentleman (by inclination, but not birth) of advancing years (but aren’t we all?) seeks youngish lady (by inclination, but definitely not birth) for cocoa and curmudgeonly conversation. Must be enigmatic, suspicious of my motives, and extremely private by default. Chinese preferred, but needs good English language skills and an innate appreciation of humour which is usually dry, mostly ironic, and occasionally lugubrious. Must be open to the belief that ghosts are generally not the disembodied spirits of actual late people, that fundamental religionists are as silly as humans get, that trees have feelings, and that there are fairies at the bottom of my garden. Looks optional, but definitely no dancers, since certain inflammatory characteristics may be feebly smouldering but refuse to be extinguished altogether. Needs to be sympathetic to increasing quantities of wistful philosophising induced by moderate (or slightly higher) amounts of alcohol to be consumed after the cocoa’s gone cold. A fondness for Will Hay comedies, world music and the High Romantic tradition would be an advantage.

That’s where it went.

I began an autobiography once, you know. I did. I gave it up after about 8,000 words out of sheer boredom. It is interesting to note, however, that much of what I wrote about my early life accorded quite closely with a lot of what Amis said. So there you go. It’s getting late and I haven’t watched any YouTube yet.

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