Which is Ritch?
Monday, 28 December 2009
My newsagent taking an extended Christmas break, and me being too lazy to leave the house before I absolutely have to, I’m still relaxing in my pyjamas with Sunday’s newspapers. The subject of this week’s Did I Say That? in the Observer magazine (a weekly feature, in which various quotes by a famous person are gathered up and put together for a sort of timeline of opinion and anecdote) is Guy Ritchie. For a special Christmas game, which of the following quotes is not by the macho mockney film director?
[ORDERING HIS FAVOURITE DRINK]
“That’s quite a gay shandy, but I figured it’s good after a scrap”
[ON HIS NEWBORN SON]
“He smiles like a bastard”
[WHILE DIRECTING HIS WIFE IN A FILM]
“Can you just drool out of the side of your mouth a bit, darlin’ ? That’s nice”
[ON HIS WIFE’S RIDING ACCIDENT]
“Eight broken bones was a bill that could only be settled with pain”
[ON A CRITICAL PRESS]
“They print the kind of things they would never come up to you in the pub and say. If they did, you might suggest continuing the conversation in the pub car park.”
Did you get it right? That last comment - about how much easier it would be to punch critics in the face than engage in articulate debate - was not, in fact, from thug-loving geezer Ritchie. No, that came from an interview later in the magazine. With Neil Kinnock. Yes, Lord Kinnock, chairman of the British Council, former UK representative at the European Commission, ex-leader of the Opposition, the man who wanted to be Prime Minister. I’m simultaneously annoyed, pitying and horribly embarrassed for him. Really, Neil? Really? You still hold public office, and you want to tell readers that if a journalist criticized you in the pub rather than in the paper, you’d invite them outside for a bit of clumsy punching rather than engage with the argument?
He learned nothing, old Kinnock. His opening words in this interview are “The feeling at Conference when The Sun switched to the Tories was a mixture of amusement and contempt. The general reaction was that it’s better to have a newspaper with you than against you, but we can manage very well without their support.”
Thing is, though, Lord Kinnock, that’s why you never got to be Prime Minister and Tony Blair did. You just can’t react to a lack of support with “amusement and contempt”, not publicly. And you shouldn’t write off The Sun, or anyone else, so immodestly. In your time, you didn’t “manage very well without their support”. I’m not saying that Tony Blair did a fantastic job once he had it, but that’s what’s so depressing about the whole thing. Can’t anyone do both? Isn’t it possible to be clever about the public image, win support from the powerful places, and be conscientious as well? Neil Kinnock always seemed like he was a good man. But it was exactly that arrogance and complacency which scuppered him in 1992; 17 years later, he’s still doing it. Amusement and contempt never got a politician anywhere.
As for laddish, mutton-headed, boysy bullshit about scraps outside pubs… I mean, that’s embarrassing enough from anyone, but the more intelligent you’re supposed to be, the more confident you are about choosing a life where “people skills” are important, the more embarrassing it is. Thus it’s pretty goddamn embarrassing from a film director, but from a political leader? Please. What would you do after you’d poked around and spat at each other in the car park, Lord Kinnock? Go back inside for “a gay shandy” ?