Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Just finished the currently quite-talked-about article by Hilary Mantel in which she (supposedly) slags off Kate Middleton (or the Duchess of Cambridge if you prefer). Unsurprisingly, she does nothing of the kind. Her remarks about la Cambridge are carefully angled in terms of the media's appropriation of - and immediate industrial manufacture of - 'Kateness'. That the media and their close allies the politicians (auto spell correct throws up 'pit icons', how apt) protest so strongly is only evidence of the extent to which it is in their interest to use Kate for their various nefarious purposes (column inches, circulation figures, deodorising whiffs of feel-good patriotism and new baby).
And, of course, a phrase such as "a royal lady is a royal vagina" is bound to get the Daily Telegraph faithful reaching for their fountain pens down there in the Home Counties (careful how I type that). But Hilary's right and although she doesn't quite say it, by logical extension, a royal bloke is a royal prick (plenty of evidence of that in the newspapers, no?).
However, did David Cameron et al bother to read to the end of Mantel's article and the last ten lines in particular? It seems doubtful. For here she argues for some basic decency and self-control exercised by the Great British Public - that we "back off and not be brutes". And without the need of some nanny state censorship. Just think for yourself (the very thing the media and politicians fear most). That much abused phrase "in the public interest" has to be reclaimed. I don't think I need - or want - to know about Prince Philip's reason for entering hospital no more than I would want people beyond my immediate family to know about a close relative's medical condition. I don't need - or want - to see Kate topless just as I would not want photos of my wife or daughters spread across the Internet. I'm not interested and it is not in my interest - or anyone else's - except, ah ha!, for those who are intent on making a profit either financial or political from sustaining the illusion. Whereas I do need - and want - to know what actually is being said behind closed doors or in the corridors or over the phone lines by media barons and their political cronies which lead to the ghastly decisions and errors of judgment that pervert public and private life. And that, of course, rarely sees the light of day. As Marie Antoinette might have said: "Let them eat Kate".
Mantel's final flourish suggesting we are all Barbara Cartlands now is perhaps unfortunate and that we all have the pen in our hands to write history. Just think what godawful prose that invites ... However, the moral thrust of her final sentences is clear: just leave the woman alone. I can't think that anyone with any decency could take issue with that.