If You Feel Very Angry about Your Computer, Margaret Hodge or the Aussies' Vote for the Queen, Try a Chainsaw
French, Sean, New Statesman (1996)
I've been feeling intense rages recently, the kind that make you feel as if internal organs are haemorrhaging and the only way that you can stop them is by punching a wall. Of course, I don't actually punch a wall. That would hurt. But you know the feeling.
Item one: I bought this computer, the whole point of which is that it can do lots of things very, very easily. After a day, I managed to get it to do two things. After a week of agonised effort, not only have I not managed to get it to do anything else, but it has now stopped being able to do those two things either. Strange signs keep appearing announcing "type 11 errors" and failures to do things I don't understand for reasons I don't understand. I am writing this diary on the ancient computer that the new was supposed to consign to the dustbin. I feel like begging it to take me back and apologising for ever having strayed.
Item two: it was bad enough hearing Margaret Hodge denouncing her fellow Labour MP, Ken Livingstone, for his loony left past. When everybody pointed out that this was a bit rich coming from the ex-head of Islington Borough Council, she replied that at least she had learnt from her mistakes, while Ken never had. There is no difficulty in identifying the mistakes Hodge had to learn from. Just look at Islington. It wasn't so clear what Livingstone has to be ashamed about. The things I remember from his stewardship are the thwarted attempt to lower transport fares, tentative contacts with Sinn Fein and what was then a courageous support for various gay organisations.
But perhaps I wouldn't mind the ludicrous right-wing posturing of people like Hodge, Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt, Paul Boateng and Michael Meacher if it hadn't been for their ludicrous left-wing posturing in the eighties. Who was it who said he wasn't a revolutionary while young for fear he might be a reactionary in middle age?
Item three: if the Australians can't manage to ditch the monarchy, then that must mean we're stuck with it here at least for my lifetime. What were they playing at? Admittedly, having Rupert Murdoch instruct them to vote against the Queen might have seemed a good reason to vote for her, but that's not enough of an excuse. …