Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Say what you see

President George W. Bush admitted last week that his notorious "bring 'em on" challenge to any potential insurgents in occupied Iraq was "kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong message to people."

"I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know,"
continued the most powerful political leader in global history, drawing gasps of admiration for his adroit negotiation of words with more than two syllables. "'Wanted, dead or alive'; that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted."

I think President Bush is possibly judging himself a bit harshly. The prime role of language should not be to make one look sophisticated; it is to communicate facts and thoughts. So, the president said "bring 'em on". And I don't think that anyone can deny that the insurgents have indeed been brought on, as the slaughter of thousands of Iraqi civilians and hundreds of coalition troops can testify. He said it. It happened. In a world where our politicians are routinely excoriated for saying things that are simply untrue, I think Dubya's adherence to the tried-and-tested concept of cause and effect makes a refreshing change. Osama bin Laden, for example, was wanted, dead or alive. And they still want him, and he is, indeed, dead or alive. More specifically, the latter.

If Bush is still concerned about all the nasty people who mock his blunt talk (some of them even going so far to suggest that he's an abject cretin who'd struggle to wipe his own bottom without Karl Rove giving step-by-step instructions on his Blackberry), he seems to have a kindred spirit in one of our most revered contemporary composers. At around the same time the president was hinting that things might have gone a wee bit pear-shaped in Mesopotamia, Sir Harrison Birtwistle was accepting an Ivor Novello award for his contribution to classical music. Here is his acceptance speech:

"Why is your music so effing loud? You must all be brain-dead. Maybe you are. I didn’t know so many clichés existed until the last half-hour. Have fun. Goodbye."

Magnificent.

16 comments:

Pashmina said...

That Birtwistle, eh? What a card. From enfant terrible to grumpy old man in one easy step.

treespotter said...

this president and his people really create a new lexicon in modern mass communication...

here's to you, from Rumsfeld (it's real, but i lost the source)

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."

Betty said...

To be fair to Mr Birwistle, if I'd been subjected to an evening of listening to such towering talents as James Blunt, Shayne Ward and KT Tunstall I'd be feeling pretty grumpy too.

Tim Footman said...

Pashmina/Betty: He doesn't even like musicians in his own sphere. Relations with Peter Maxwell Davis are notoriously frosty.

Treespotter: Rumsfeld was also good on the distinction between known and unknown unknowns.

Spinsterella said...

Brilliant.

(Birtwhistle, not Bush, obviously. Or Blunt)

Robert A. Swipe said...

Ah Tim,

How life imitatesblog imitates eh?

This is a true story: Harry Birtwistle, as I've always known him, used to live around the corner from me in Twickenham (check his biog, you'll see it's true) I knew his son Toby quite well and when HB was working at the French equivalent of the BBC radiophonic workshop, I stayed with the family in Paris. I'll never forget Harry walking around this little flat one morning and coming up to me (apropos on rien) and saying "John, music is like knitting..." and then walking off in his poofy thigh length knitted dressing gown.

I didn't have the heart to tell him my name was Bob...

Ian Broudie (he of Three Lions fame) lives in the house now. It's 22 Trafalgar Road, Twickenham if anyone wants to go and throw a brick through his window or scratch their keys along his Porsche...


Love on ya,


Bob

He doesn't like Maxwell Davies because he doesn't like arse bandits, apparently. Some transference going on there, methinks....

treespotter said...

LOL, yes, i heard that. I just thought you might be interested in that concepty spirit.

lucien de la peste said...

Tough one, that....

Which would I prefer to listen to, Blunt's sensitive simpering or Birtwhistle's atonal Mud Being Dropped From A Height Of Exactly 33 Centimetres Into A Pail Of Water?

Blunt by a short head, I reckon.

Billy said...

I have had a soft spot for Birtwhistle ever since someone decided to do one of his pieces in the middle of the last night of the proms.

A load of atonal saxophone in the middle of the usual populist, flag-waving rubbish? Yeah!

It was worth it just to see the audiences faces. Bless them.

Tim Footman said...

I love the fact that, from a thread ostensibly about George W Bush, that most of you guys seize on a postscript about a hairy atonalist.

When the world is finally rent asunder by a combination of global warming, renegade nukes and moral decay, I bet you'll all be queuing for returns at the Wigmore Hall.

Respec'

Robert A. Swipe said...

Tim's absolutely right. We should be ashamed of ourselves. I for one heartliy condemn Bush's militarism and commitment to maintaining the world's largest nuclear arsenal. I will not cease commenting on other people's weblogs about obscure, homophobic British avant garde composers until the last cruise missile has been melted down to make Bang & Olufson stereos and there is one in every third world home. Please join me in not talking about composer Harrison Birtwistle and together we can make the world a safer place for future generations...


Love on y'all,


Bob

p.s. - cfuuyfim! Best wrod vercifation yet!!

Tim Footman said...

Bobby,

You've committed the sin you accused me of. I wasn't being sarcastic. Taking the piss out of Harrison Birtwhistle is far more worthwhile that joining the long, long queue of Bush-bashers, worthy as their aims may be. Who would you rather be alongside you as the watercannons are switched on, after all? Sardonic, sexy, devastatingly intelligent minxes like Pashmina and Betty and Spinsterella? Or old farts like Noam Chomsky and fatties like Michael Moore?

love, light and peace,

Tim

Robert A. Swipe said...

Sorry I missed your ingenuousness (if that's the right word...)Spinny, Pash and Betty "anyday, anyday, anydayiy".

Bob

p.s - (We could double date......???) You bring the watercannons, and I'll bring the laytex body stockings and 'correctional appliances'....(...we can all take turns with Pash - she's an intelligent minx, she'll understand!!)

Tim Footman said...

Oh bum, I'm washing my hair that night. You'll have to take them on solo, Bob. Form an orderly queue, ladies, and try not to kill him.

Robert A. Swipe said...

Sorry Tim, I'm already dead...

Thanks for the concern though.

Love on ya (from the other side)


Bob

lucien de la peste said...

I love the fact that, from a thread ostensibly about George W Bush, that most of you guys seize on a postscript about a hairy atonalist.

Bush....

Sooooo yesterday's papers.