25/10/11 21:35
benicek: (Default)

I have a guilty secret to confess. I've have been absolutely mesmerised by the whole Libya thing. I've been like a moth to a light bulb, checking the news every day. It's the most entertaining rolling media event I've experienced since communism collapsed in Europe. Yes, entertaining. I'm being entertained by thousands of people getting killed and inhabited cities being pounded with rockets. What sort of sick voyeur am I? But its attraction is undeniable. It's just so damned colourful. Good-looking, utterly sincere young people with balls of steel, swathed in colourful flags, taking part in a huge, real-life Mediterranean action film. As for Gaddafi, fiction couldn't have spawned a more outrageous character than this. A handsome revolutionary turned grotesque, violent, narcissist nut-job who has spent his entire life dodging assassinations and insulting and/or humiliating almost every government on the planet. First the western powers wanted to kill him. Then he changed sides and (because of oil) forced the Yanks, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and our own Prime Minister to kiss his arse in public, multiple times, while attending internationally publicised events dressed in a manner which would have shamed a pimp. Then his own people decided to kill him, forcing all the afore mentioned to change sides (again), thus magnifying the monstrosity of their recent arse-kissing ten-fold. The London School of Economics are still trying to expunge all the pro-Gadaffi family brown-nosing from their publicity literature, rather too late. It is farcical. Gaddafi was a man so shamelessly vain and contemptuous that anybody in authority who ever associated with him is permanently soiled, as if they'd stepped in some sequinned turd, and I think it is for this, in some very bizarre way, that we owe him thanks. He showed us power and realpolitik for what it really is, the lowest and most degrading field of human activity, a circus of greed and manipulation. Goodbye 'Crazy Hair', you made everything so much more obvious.

benicek: (Default)

The other day a patient related to me how, many decades ago, he earned a degree from Cambridge “which was very useful for translating inscriptions on medieval gravestones in Germany, but bugger all else.” He’d, therefore, been forced to turn to an alternative career “selling things” to African dictators.

He’d found them fascinating customers. Ghaddafi, to whom he sold telephone exchanges, was his favourite; an absolutely charming host, if incredibly vain. “There was one joke he loved telling British guests” my patient explained, “and of course you had to laugh your head off afterwards or he’d have been terribly insulted.” Ghaddafi’s joke was this:

“I am a great admirer of your famous arab playwright…….Sheikh Speare, ha ha ha ha ha!”

My patient explained that, apart from his obvious failings, Ghaddafi is a misunderstood romantic, and was sorely wasted on his first marriage, arranged in his youth against his will.

Most sinister was Idi Amin. “He was very amusing too, but with him it was never intentional.” My patient was on this occasion trying to sell British-made, teflon-coated bullets to the Ugandan army. As part of the prescribed sales pitch he had to explain to Amin that one of these bullets was capable of passing through four human bodies without disintegrating. The Butcher of Africa received this detail with intense interest and turned immediately to one of his aides:

“Bring me four volunteers.”

September 2017

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