Saturday, December 2, 2006

"The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, and a Hell of Heaven"
[Paradise Lost, I, 254-5]

Joy of joys! Bliss of blisses!

That’s Malcolm delighting in being reunited with his bath, after several days of sequestration by builders.

He is reminded of Dick Crossman (as Harold Wilson’s first Minister of Housing and Local Government) at the Ideal Home Exhibition. Crossman had politely heard out a Canadian extolling the virtues of an industrial-built dwelling. Crossman spotted the problem: no bath, only a shower. The Canadian then launched into an explanation that a shower was more hygienic and more economical than a bath. Crossman, an Oxford double first and former philosophy don, had his priorities: “Good God, an Englishman doesn’t have a bath to clean himself: he goes to have a bath to think!”

Malcolm likewise. He remembers with pleasure, even awe, the old bath-house of Trinity College, Dublin (which was at the side of the Dining Hall, where now the Buttery stands). The baths were of battle-cruiser proportions. The water was hot-to-scalding and unlimited. The male voice choir could be quite splendid. In the quieter interludes, as a wise old bird said, “Sometimes I sits and thinks; and sometimes I just sits”.

Wallowing, today he found himself juxtaposing two different lines of reflection. One was the review of yet another translation of Dante (in the Economist, no less!). The other was Julia Langdon reviewing Tom Bower’s Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge in the Guardian This contemplation resulted in a passing thought:
  • Can one conceive a more loathsome collection of gargoyles than the Media Baronage? and
  • In which Circle of Hell do they belong?
Wikipedia has a list of over thirty “media moguls”, several of them not known by Malcolm. Curiously, the list fails to include Beaverbrook. The other usual suspects are there: Hearst and Murdoch, Springer and Maxwell, all four Rothermeres, Desmond, O’Reilly and Berlusconi. It quickly becomes a challenge to list them in order of disgust. When the inevitable day of universal proletarian revolution arrives, bruvvers, which one is first for the chop?

Then to the second part of Malcolm’s ablutional musings: which circle of hell?

So, going down! Fourth circle, avarice: let’s drop Martha Stewart off here. After all, she's already done time; and we really should not hold social climbing and bad taste against her.

Then, Malcolm fears, it’s the long drop.

Ping! Here we are, Eighth Circle, just one from rock bottom. Panders (that’s you purveyors of Page Three!), flatterers, hypocrites, fortune-tellers (all those horoscopes), theft (that’s you, Cap’n Bob! —no, wait, not yet for you!), bad counsellors (editorial-writers, get out here!) trouble-makers (hah! indeed!), alchemists, impersonators, counterfeiters and liars. Oh, and giants.

That seems to leave only Ján Ludvík Hoch for Beelzebub’s Bargain Basement of betrayers, on the grounds of his creative use of company pension money.

Even the warmth of the climate down here does not disguise that the bath water is cooling. So a fluffy warm towel, dressing gown, slippers, toast our toes by the fire, and read the papers, for a further daily dose of pandering, flattery, hypocrisy .... Sphere: Related Content

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