Sunday, 27 July 2008

"A spontaneous squeal in medias res"

Mr. Justice Eady: There seems to be some sort of game involving rivalry between blondes and brunettes. At one point, the dark-haired woman lying on the sofa raises her head and cries out “Brunettes rule!” Within a moment or two, a voice from off-camera can be heard (accepted to be that of Woman A, who is indeed blonde) gasping out words to the effect “We are the Aryan race – blondes”.

Not surprisingly, this has been fixed upon by the Defendant as being a reference to Nazi racial policies. It is said that the reference to “Aryans” cannot bear any other interpretation…..

What is clear, however, is that the remark was unscripted and that it occurred amid a good deal of shouts and squeals (of delight or otherwise). One had to listen to the tape several times to pick out exactly what was going on and indeed nobody had spotted “Brunettes rule!” until the middle of the trial. It is also clear that there was nothing spoken by the Claimant on this occasion which reflected Nazi terminology or attitudes. There is no reason to suppose that it was other than a spontaneous squeal by Woman A in medias res.

At least Mr Justice Eady has a sense of humour. He must have needed it, having to sit po-faced through all the piffle spouted by both sides in the Max Mosley libel case. Each contended that the crux of the matter was whether the German-speaking ‘orgy’ Mosley enjoyed with a bevy of expensive tarts had Nazi overtones. If - as the News of the World claimed - it did, Mosley was justly infamous. If - as he claimed - it didn’t, the proceedings were a purely private matter between consenting adults, and warranted no censure.

What utter humbug! It WAS a purely private matter, and Nazi overtones were neither here nor there. So there was an element of hypocrisy in Mosley’s case, as well as dollops of it in the defence proffered by the “newspaper’” [if you can dignify a lurid scandal-sheet with such a misnomer]. I’m glad that Mosley won, but not for the reason he did. Private sexual behaviour of whatever kind between consenting people that isn’t unlawful is nobody else’s business – least of all that of the prurient gutter press.

But of course we now have agonised squawks from the usual quarters. Even such pillars of journalistic respectability as Peter Preston in the Guardian and Lord Rees-Mogg in The Times [well. after all, it’s a Murdoch-owned paper and has in honour[?] bound to defend its unsavoury stable-mate] have been wailing that the Mosley case heralds the end of socially responsible investigative journalism. It does nothing of the sort – it merely hoists a warning flag to those who mistakenly claim that all aspects of the private life of anyone in the public eye are fair game for lying reporters.

And, most recently, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has said in the News of the World [where else?] that the judgement sets a dangerous precedent, and that “as a Christian leader” he deplores the protection it gives to “unspeakable and indecent behaviour, whether in public or in private”. I wonder how much the muckraking organ paid His Holier-than-thou-ness to spout this canting bilge?

For all Mosley’s hypocrisy towards his wife [whose life, he belatedly claims, as well as his own, has been “devastated” by the unsavoury revelations of his spanking high jinks] I have much more sympathy with him and all those who rightly believe that what they choose to do privately is no-one else’s business provided that it does not conflict with their public posture. During the great gay ‘outing’ controversy of a few years ago, I maintained that revealing whether MPs and others in the public eye were gay or not should be left entirely up to them, unless they had behaved hypocritically around the issue by voting against or otherwise actively opposing gay rights.

As for the childish naivety of persons such as Archbishop Carey – though not the editor of the News of the World - about the widespread daily occurrence of commonplace sexual activities such as sadomasochism, whether or not involving giggling prostitutes, I really do despair of the inexhaustible British capacity for sanctimonious self-deception. As a senior venereologist once remarked to me: “Every big city is absolutely rumbling with every imaginable kind of sex 24 hours round the clock.” [Thinking of my "bachelor" great-great uncle's numerous children, he might have added "every small village too"!]

A century or so ago, Freud said that the cultural climate of the West did not favour sexual candour, and that most people concealed their true sexual natures under a heavy overcoat woven of a tissue of lies. Although there is much more openness nowadays – much of it more sniggeringly prurient than healthy – candour is still hazardous. The observation that the English vice isn’t buggery, but humbuggery, still holds true.


Longrider said...

Quite so. I took Rees-Mogg's humbug to task earlier this week. It was no one's business and Carey's comment loses him much kudos in my estimation. Just because the activities are something of which he disapproves, does not make it fair game for the intrusion of prurient reporters. Not everyone shares his faith and those who do not are not bound by its strictures.

bwi said...

It'll take more than a Freud to work out why Brits are always beating themselves up over sex.

Bodwyn Wook said...

I expect that the slogan or yell, poorly recorded on some inboard videocam-mic, was actually:

'Britannia rules!'

zola a social thing said...

Too many Ginger Nuts methinks.

anticant said...

A spontaneous squeal of joy greets the re-emergence of Zola. The Beadle and Wooffie were just about to set out on a brandy-bearing errand of mercy to the Lapland tundra.....

Merkin said...

'Britannia rules the waves as well as the plaits and the short and curlies!'

Bodwyn Wook said...

"'Twat's that you say?"