he joyous news last week from
Buckingham Palace that the Duke and Duchess of York had produced the 4000th in line to the throne resulted in some of the most hysterical copy since The Sun screamed ‘G()'I‘(‘I IA!’ on the sinking ofthe Belgrano. Most of it was verbless diarrhoea but the heavies at least struggled to find an angle which eschewed discussion of the expense oflayettes and the hazards ofprojectile vomiting. It was. however. left to the Sun's stablemate. 'I’he Times. to resuscitate the merits of paternity leave. the Royal Navy having decided that the nation could sleep easily for a few weeks without Prince Andrew on hand to trumpet ‘Bombs Away!‘
In the dim past. I confess. I was an advocate of fathers getting time off work to muck in after the pain of confinement. At the white-collared annual general meeting ofNalgo I made an impassioned plea. prompted by selfishness and ignorance. to the effect that marital l and — by extension — world. harmony would be greatly enhanced if man g and woman could spend some time : readjusting to life with an incontinent banshee. l
[H knew then what I know now I I would have kept quiet. But I was young. proud and did not realise howl precious is silence. Also I had not bargained for the con side of the argument. eloquently delivered by a porcelain-patted bureaucrat who had ﬂuttered down from his eyrie in the CityChambers. It was people like me. he said. who would abuse such a concession by proereating annually in order to have an extra week sunning myselfin St Andrews. He projected what this would mean across the council. computing in tens ofthousands the total number of l man-hours likely to be lost. The effect on the city would. he announced like a hellfire preacher. be catastrophic. Black refuse bags would pile up on every street-corner emitting noxious odours. crematoria would be slow-burning. libraries would be closed books. There would be a plague of mediaeval proportions. cholera in (‘olinton. black death in Blackhall and readers with cold turkey symptoms everywhere. It sent a shudder through the hall. Even when I pointed out that here was a man envious of others still capable of adding to the race. it cut no ice. I was voted down.
Is it not time that this government which professes to care so much for the institution ofthe family took a more active role in the upbringing of its young citizens? It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least in Musselburgh) that the first eighteen years of a child's life are the most traumatic for its parents. Surely it would be in the interests of everyone's sanity for children to be
I -____ .. 84 The List 19— 25 August 1988
FESTIVAL , NOTEBOOK
Alan Taylor puts aside his bookish Eastlife for the nex few weeks, and pulls a few pages from his Festival jotter. But, even without the Book Festival and with the distrac- tions of a Royal Birth it's a Shaw thing that he won't be spineless for long.
taken care of until such time as they are dextrous with knife and fork. can cope with other than mushy food and buy their round. whereupon they could leave the home they had not occupied to embark on higher education. If the good lady. who has done so much for Barratt housing and blue rinses. will ﬂoat this in one of her many thinktanks it shall be known evermore as ‘Snatcherism‘.
orry to harp on about the Iron
Lady but now that £2000 is catching on as an ‘Archer‘ the one pound coin has been given the soubriquet "I’hateher‘. Why‘.’ Because its small. brassy and aspires to be a sovereign.
eading the first volume of
Michael Holroyd's biography of George Bernard Shaw ((‘hatto & Windus £16). to be published in the middle of September. I was reminded of William Morris‘s
observation that though it is difficult to say who the best people are to look after a child. it is certain that the very worst are its parents.
It is acknowledged in publishing circles that Holroyd‘s biography will be the book of the autumn season. eclipsing Graham Greene’s first novel in six years The ( ‘aplain and the Enemy. Salman Rushdie's new book and Kingsley Amis‘s
Co-ordinator Mark l’isher. Production Assistants NicholasGillard. Iain Grant. Art Alice Bain. Books Alan 'I‘aylor. Classical Music ('arol Main. Dance Alice Bain. Film Allan Iluntcr. 'I‘revor Johnston. Folk/Jazz Norman ('halmers. Food Julie .‘ylorricc. Marina ()‘I.oughlin. Kids Sally Kinnes. Media Nigel Billen. Sally Kinnes.
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follow up to The Old Devils. I am alf-way through it and am gobbling it up. But since his death in 1950 Shaw's reputation as a dramatist has nose-dived and even aficianados like myself. who will spend hours in serendipitous study ofhis letters. prefaces. criticism. laundry receipts etcetera. would think twice before going to see one of his wordy plays. His unpopularity among play-goers is borne out by a perusal of the Fringe programme where he is credited once for You Never Can Tell. a fin de siecle comedy which Edinburgh Graduate Theatre is staging. While Shaw’s flame is guttering. other‘s are blazing. none more so than Shakespeare who has at least 16 mentions on the Fringe though few are faithful to the original texts and several are shameless mickey-takes. ()ther writers who figure prominently on the Fringe include Stephen Berkoff (o). Brecht (4). (‘aryl (‘hurchill (3). Sylvia Plath (3) and Ibsen (3). I wish I knew what the significance of this
haw was an interferer who knew
what was best for other people. So. too. is an American acquaintance who reckons he has solved virtually all the world‘s outstanding crises. His plan is simple. The Israelis are to evacuate their spiritual homeland and go to Glasgow. The Palestinians will then re-occupy Israel. All Glaswegians are to go to the Falkland Islands which will become so unattractive the Argentinians will renounce their claim to them. The Falklanders will be evacuated to Nothern Ireland where there is plenty of room for their sheep. All the (‘atholics in Northern Ireland will be put on the train to Dublin. At last the world will be at peace. ‘You will notice.‘ says Sam. ‘that I have not mentioned the Lebanon. No one can do anything for the Lebanon.‘
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