Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Letts Get Stuck In

The only thing I have in common with Quentin Letts is that neither of us can write quite as well as we think we can.

It seems he's the type who keeps a list of people who have irritated him in some way. The result is his book "50 People Who Buggered Up Britain" which is 277-pages of sheer sneering whine.

His prose style is bizarre - like a collaboration between a petulant adolescent and a dyspeptic retired judge. But that's not the real problem with the book.

HIs choice of targets is bewildering enough - some of these people were doing their job or the right thing or both. Heath sacked Enoch Powell - and that was a bad thing ??? Callaghan started us on the long road to decimalisation ???

Some of the blows are particularly low and lazy. Why criticise Ed Balls for having a silly name and goggly eyes when his handling as Education secretary of the Baby P case is so much more worthy of invective?

The main gripe I have though is that Britain plainly isn't "Buggered Up". Heck it stand to improve, but this country is one the best things about an imperfect world. It works as least as well as it always did and in some ways it's getting better and better. Just ask the stream of people who stow away in boxes and take very shallow breaths to get here.

And it's not individuals who do the damage. All of the issues that annoy Letts are the result of large complicated (but dull) social forces. For example, it's simplistic (but oh so human) to pretend that John McEnroe was responsible for our lack of respect for referees because he so publicly lost the page with one in 1981. How much easier to blame a person.

So in short: wrong-headed, plain wrong and not that well written.

Quite a bit like reading "The Daily Mail" .

No comments: