Category Archives: Observer (newspaper)

Vulgarity of expression in the British cultural élite

Leafing through the cultural section of the Observer, which Dalrymple explains is

the Sunday newspaper of the intelligentsia (at least, that part of it that still reads a newspaper),

he comes across the following statement, by a playwright called Lucy Prebble, about her latest work:

It’s a risky, clumsy motherfucker, this play.

The accompanying picture is of the playwright,

dressed in a rather pretty and no doubt expensive flowered frock, smiling and looking exceedingly pleased with herself.

Dalrymple notes that

apart from the obviously bogus self-deprecation of the statement,

the use of the word motherfucker

is clearly intended as a signal of her liberation from supposedly bourgeois restraint and her desire to assert her membership in the linguistic underclass. We may assume that as a successful playwright she is capable of more expressive, less uninformatively vulgar ways of describing her doubts about the value of her play. Her choice of word is not to convey anything meaningful about her play, which it is clearly incapable of doing, but to establish her social and political virtue, that is to say her nonmembership of an élite that once upon a time would not have used such a word, and certainly would not have wished it to be published that it had used it.

Exceedingly pleased with herself: Lucy Prebble

The harridan-and-harpy wing of British politics

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 15.02.04 An article reflecting the views of such people is read, or endured, by Dalrymple. It is about ‘gender inequality’ in politics and society, and is both

dull, as all such articles are bound to be,

and impoverishing of the English language. However, the virtue of the article, to be found in the London newspaper the Observer, is that it lavishly furnishes Dalrymple with opportunities to indulge what he describes as

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 14.59.45one of the most delightful of emotions,

viz., righteous indignation.

The article irritates our man intensely, finally reducing him to

impotent rage.