Firstly. A big thank you to all of you for putting up with the server problems that accompanied the arrival of my first blog essay, or blessay as I quite horribly prefer to call it. I thank you all for your suggestions, tips, links and comments. I can’t reply to all the points raised, but I will say that (A) the Nokia E series iSync plugin just simply doesn’t work for me, nor do any third party offerings. “Unexpected error”. I shall wait till Missing Sync come up with their solution which is due soon and (B) no, I don’t want my iPhone hacked or cracked, thanks very much for the offer. We may return to the geeky side of my life a little later.
This blessay, while entirely different in other respects, is also unaccountably and inexcusably prolix. Sorry about that, I don’t seem to be able to keep things brief. So my advice is that you read it in bits. Or print it out and save it for a rainy day or a recalcitrant motion.
I will try to produce more traditional ‘dear diary’ style down-and-dirty blogs if that’s what you would prefer, but I advise you to be prepared to expect a mixture of the long and the short.
My subject this week is Fame….
Let Fame, that all hunt after in their lives, Live registered upon our brazen tombs…
I have been pondering this business of fame since I was young enough to know Valerie Singleton from the Queen (for Americans and other non-Britons I should explain: one is a remote, god-like, autocratic woman endowed with powerful charismatic charm and the other is a constitutional monarch recently played on screen by Helen Mirren).
Some questions will be addressed in the following blessay:
· Is fame really something that “all hunt after in their lives”? · Whose fault is fame? · Can we postulate a kind of fame meme? · What’s it like being famous, Stephen? · What are the bad things about being famous?
The quotation I opened with is so firmly branded on my memory that I have no need to check it: it’s from the beginning of Love’s Labour’s Lost. When I was in a student production nearly 30 years ago Hugh Laurie played the King of Navarre and was incapable of delivering those opening lines without giggling; what set him off was catching the eye of Paul Schlesinger, who played Berowne. This happens on stage; I remember having a similar problem with John Gordon Sinclair – the only way we could get through some scenes of The Common Pursuit was by looking away from each other. It’s a chemical thing, like a kind of (mostly) benign allergy, impossible to explain or predict. Anyway, Hugh Laurie had the affliction big time with Paul Schlesinger. So much so that the harassed director, Brigid Larmour, was forced to get the entire company of attendant lords to intone the opening speech tutti, as a kind of chant or oath, to draw attention away from the corpsing. Brigid Larmour is now artistic director of the Watford Theatre, Paul Schlesinger is the head of BBC Radio Entertainment and Hugh Laurie has disappeared into oblivion. How the whirligig of time brings in its revenges. I played Don Armado incidentally, a character with the best description in any of the Shakespearean dramatic personae: he is “Don Armado, a fantastical Spaniard”. Only I was Don Armado, a fantastical Mexican because … oh, it’s another story altogether.
Intro For the duration of much of what follows it might be a good idea if you cast yourself as famous. Much of success in life comes from being able to put yourself in the shoes of another: in the shoes of a prince or a pauper, a dictator or a dick-head, a burgomaster or a burger-flipper, regardless of degree, status or esteem, it’s what imagination means – the ability to penetrate the consciousness and experience of another. It’s perhaps the defining characteristic of the artist. So, rather than look at fame from the outside which we can all do (only members of a royal family are born famous after all) try in the following paragraphs to look at fame from the inside. I’m not suggesting this because I think famous people need especial understanding or sympathy, it’s just that I suspect much of what’s written below will make more sense that way. Besides, isn’t it the best way to read anything? Only resentful bores and bitter egoists see everything from their own point of view, surely?