Category Archives: pomposity

Coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language

‘It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse’: Mervyn Griffith-Jones

Dalrymple writes that in R v Penguin Books Ltd, the prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones,

seemed not to have noticed that society had changed since his upper-class youth.

Griffith-Jones

opened the case with such pomposity that he became a figure of fun ever afterwards,

and is remembered only for what he said in his opening remarks to the jury:

It does tend…to induce lustful thoughts. It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse. It commends…sensuality almost as a virtue. It encourages…coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language…It must tend to deprave…One of the ways in which you can test this book, and test it from the most liberal outlook, is to ask yourselves the question, when you have read it through, would you approve of your young sons, young daughters—because girls can read as well as boys—reading this book? Is it a book you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book you would even wish your wife and servants to read?

The court erupted in laughter, Dalrymple reminds us, and

later, after the not guilty verdict, in a debate in the House of Lords on an unsuccessful motion to strengthen the law of obscenity, one of the noble Lords was reported to have replied to the question of whether he would mind if his daughter read Lady Chatterley’s Lover that he wouldn’t mind in the least, but he would mind very much if his gamekeeper read it.

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A service economy without the service

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

Whenever Dalrymple is in Amsterdam, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever he is in London, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign.

This is just as well, writes Dalrymple,

for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run an hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter

if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such since Margaret Thatcher solved Britain’s chronic industrial relations problem by the expedient of getting rid of industry. This worked, and perhaps was inevitable, but it was necessary for Britain to find some other way of making its way in the world. This it has not done.

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

incapacity is everywhere.

Incompetence starts at the top. The prime minister, David Cameron, is

a careerist and opportunist in the mould of Tony Blair. Not only was Mr. Cameron’s only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to profligate government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, guides him.

Cameron has been

truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is without substance.