A number of people on social media — as well as in some newspaper columns — have called the U.S. election this year a “Hobson’s Choice.” It is not. A Hobson’s Choice is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario, not a situation where there are two unsavoury options. That would be “a dilemma.” I guess it could also be called a “Sophie’s Choice,” but I don’t like that expression for two reasons: 1) it brings up images of Nazis killing children, and 2) it makes me think of the book (and the movie) of the same name, both of which were tinged with anti-Semitism.
On a brighter note, here is a clip from the brilliant David Lean film, Hobson’s Choice, with Charles Laughton in the lead role. And yes, the title character is given a Hobson’s Choice at the end of the story.
Years ago, when I was living in Istanbul, I asked my students whether they worried about growing Islamism in their country. “Oh no,” several of them explained almost simultaneously. “Whenever that starts to happen, the military has a coup and we get rid of the problem. Then things get back to normal.”
Sigh. I miss those days.
Yes, I am painfully aware of the irony of what I posted yesterday (see below), given the horrors of what transpired in Nice last night. No further comment necessary.
Two versions of Douce France (insert profound insight regarding demography and history here, if you so please, or merely enjoy both versions of this wonderful song).
Version Charles Trenet:
Version Rachid Taha & Carte de Sejour:
I am prone to insomnia, and last night I was up in the wee small hours watching old episodes of “Rhoda” on the internets. By hazard, I watched an episode in which Rhoda is looking for a job (as a window-dresser) and facing a lot of rejection. It made me think of my post below (scroll down) about aiming for the best.
I got a good laugh when Rhoda said to her sister, Brenda, “I don’t mind being rejected by Tiffany’s, but Tie City?” That’s how I feel as a writer. I don’t mind being rejected by The Paris Review, but [insert name of publication which you hold in contempt]?
Writers deal with tonnes of ’em. I always have. But they are the only way to publication and payment. I have met so many people who tell me they want to write, and I tell them, “Do so!” But…once they start they are crushed by all the rejection. They have such high expectations. You really need a thick skin for it, and self-confidence (or maybe delusions!). You must also aim high (but not expect to hit the target most of the time). I stumbled upon this wonderful piece about writing and rejection and would recommend it to anyone interested in any type of writing work (though the primary focus of the essay is literary).
Important, in light of Chilcot, to remember the following: Saddam Hussein was the war criminal. Not Tony Blair and not George Bush. And neither Bush nor Blair lied their countries into a war. The Chilcot Report says nothing of the kind. Read it.
I miss Hitchens! A good moment to re-read these words of his:
When Tony Blair took office, Slobodan Milosevic was cleansing and raping the republics of the former Yugoslavia. Mullah Omar was lending Osama bin Laden the hinterland of a failed and rogue state. Charles Taylor of Liberia was leading a hand-lopping militia of enslaved children across the frontier of Sierra Leone, threatening a blood-diamond version of Rwanda in West Africa. And the wealth and people of Iraq were the abused private property of Saddam Hussein and his crime family. Today, all of these Caligula figures are at least out of power, and at the best either dead or on trial. How can anyone with a sense of history not grant Blair some portion of credit for this? And how can anybody with a tincture of moral sense go into a paroxysm and yell that it is he who is the war criminal? It is as if all the civilians murdered by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be charged to his account. This is the chaotic mentality of Julian Assange and his groupies.
That is moral clarity, people. My late brother had it, too. Really miss the wisdom of both of those men.
Currently reading Robert Caro’s books about Lyndon Johnson (link here to the first in the series). What a life; what a life force Johnson was. I’m laughing. I’m crying. I’m in awe of the good and the bad and the ugly and the beautiful of the man – the hate, the love, the pain, the whole damn thing.
Most of all, reading these books has confirmed to me something I’ve always thought: hippies are evil.
I shall miss David Cameron – have always liked him. A shame he felt he had to fall on his sword. Only a few days after Brexit, he had these choice words for Jeremy Corbyn, obviously playing on Leo Amery’s famous words to Chamberlain – in turn borrowed from Cromwell. (FYI, I referred to my mother using this quote in a column from two years ago.)