Australia is a silver medallist in world leadership. We haven’t ever elected a woman as Prime Minister, but we were the second country to un-elect a woman (Romania is the gold medallist).
We have repeatedly suggested that in terms of haute culture, the 20th century was a wrong turn. [See, for example, in general, ‘Onward!‘, Decline of the West, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture, Renoir is a Pissoir, and as to opera in particular, e.g., The Curse of Rigoletto, Don Giovanni, etcetera, etc.] Evidence abounds. Of the last aspect, opera, we found a neat little statement the other day in a collection of short pieces by Howard Jacobson:
“The sexing up of opera rates as one of the great absurdities of our time. See an opera in Germany and it’s invariably set in a fetish club and sung in shiny leather sado-shorts.”*
John Hinckley junior is to be released from St Elizabeth’s Hospital (where Ezra Pound was banged-up), having been declared sane and harmless by medical experts (one hopes Dr Zeigler from The Young Poisoner’s Handbook was not on the panel – not that he was incompetent, just unlucky). In any case, we recall the priceless P. J. O’Rourke review of a book co-written by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter (apparently based on Alan Partridge’s Bouncing Back), in which he devised a number of parlour games based on various brain-dead extracts therefrom:
One game, ‘Finish That Thought,’ is on point in our current context. A random quote is drawn from the book and the contestant adds a rider:
“So often, the best therapy for a mentally ill person is just knowing that someone cares.” So Jimmy and I gave John Hinckley a call.**
The score for assassinated Presidents stands at: Democrats: 1 (Kennedy) Republicans: 3 (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley). No need to balance the books! Let’s leave it at that chaps![Howard Jacobson, Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (Bloomsbury, 2011) from ‘Rigoletto’, p.38. See also his article ‘The Twentieth Century? Tosh?’ @ p. 25.]
**[P.J. O’Rourke, Give War a Chance (Picador, 1992) p. 153.]