Vanity is such a modern drug that it should really come in a foil wrap. So many of us are under that charming, wonderful, warming narcosis which makes us feel so loved for our gifts and talent. This really is such a new wonder drug that makes us feel so special, it’s sometimes a shock to learn that there are others out there who go hungry or struggle with their insignificance. Haven’t they had their tabs this month? Doesn’t ego come on the National Health?
Yet I suppose it is hardly surprising that we choose to be doped up on our sense of self. It is hard to survive otherwise, when our culture is so unendingly rotten. Riven by petty feuds, blatant falsehoods and aggravated narcissism, London is a den of arrogance, ambition, and arseholes. We need that occasional boost to pep us up. Vanity keeps us strong. And occasionally it forces us to make mistakes.
This whole affair of poor Dr. Raj just saddens me terribly. A brilliant mind is now being ridiculed by the lowest among us. Yet those grub-eating satirists with their endless witticisms are just as prone to vanity. Their lives will contain as many (if not more) misjudgements as even the most litigious person will find in Dr. Raj’s misunderstood career. It’s the intellectual conceit suffered by all of us who aspire for success that we will occasionally choose the difficult path. Ridicule is the price suffered by anybody who has tried to rise too quickly, only to reveal that very human characteristic: an astonishing capacity to make a complete balls of things.
Judy made the point this morning when we came to discuss one of my greatest shames.
‘Judy,’ I said at a particularly sensitive moment over my cornflakes, ‘it sometimes disappoints me enormously that I can’t drive a car.’
My confession clearly startled her. She knows how rarely I like to make this little fact public. When you look back through my blog, you’d see the numerous instances when I mention having driven us somewhere. Only, I was telling the smallest untruth. I employ a man to do all the driving for me. He’s an ex-grand National jockey who lives in the back of the Range Rover and doesn’t complain when I force him over the back seat and I climb out the driver’s door.
‘Perhaps you should do something to change that,’ Judy replied as I’d finished sobbing.
‘And become a figure of fun like Dr. Raj?’ I asked.
‘I know what you mean, the poor man... Harassed by scientologists for plagiarism. It’s like being shopped for theft by Ronnie Biggs.’
‘Not just scientologists,’ I said, ‘but damn ungrateful bloggers who don’t remember how he eased the suffering of so many people. But is that what we’ve come to, Judy? Does a trained healer mean so much less to us than the men and women that drive petrol tankers? Why do we mock and humiliate our artists, yet are willing to pay for our cars in blood? Why am I, a man of so many skills, unable to perform the most basic necessities of modern life that I’m made to feel like an outcast?’
‘Perhaps you need to think about a new career,’ said Judy. She’s always wanting go solo so I was hardly surprised by her suggestion. ‘Phil across the road says that most jobs come with a company car these days.’
‘And what does Phil across the road do for a living?’ I asked.
‘He’s a photocopier engineer.’
A photocopier engineer. Judy wants me to become a photocopier engineer so I might learn to drive and we can put an ex-Grand National jockey out of his chauffeuring job.
What does this say about the world? The same world that is currently mocking Dr. Raj Persaud, even though there doesn’t walk a kinder, more generous man on the face of this rotten borough of Earth.
I feel quite pensive today, as though a great wrong has been done. Damn all, who mock him. And damn all photocopier engineers too. May they all rot in a world low on toner and heavy on paper jams.
Saturday, 21 June 2008
The Vanity of Human Psychiatrists
“And Swift expires a driveller and a show”