Thursday, 19 December 2013

Even Commoner III

Denis Wright is gone and, perhaps because I never met him, I still haven't grasped that I really won't receive cheery tweets or emails from him ever again, (and what a tribute to him it is that his messages were invariably cheery, even in the midst of dire health crises).

It is a strange new development that it is now possible to miss someone you never met - strange, perhaps,  but also good. It proves that the Internet is not an instrument of alienation, as so many waffling articles claim, but quite the opposite: something that can bring together people who would never have known each other otherwise, allowing those, like Denis in his later months, who cannot physically go out into the world to go out into it with words.

Actually, that is what I call genuine progress.

Anyway, it was Denis who suggested occasional posts of commonplaces, and this one in the series is dedicated to him:

Silliness is always funny. Terry Jones

Give me motorway cafes over MTV any day of the week. Will Self, an interview with The Idler, 1993

That easy democratic affability that is the mark of all true aristocrats. Angela Carter, The Kitchen Child

...some minds are stronger and apter to mark the differences of things, others to mark their resemblances. Francis Bacon, The New Organon

I have from time to time lost my money and my dignity, Hercule, but I have never lost my taste. Countess Vera Rossakoff to Poirot in ITV's The Labours of Hercules

Never underestimate how extraordinarily difficult it is to understand a situation from another's point of view. Reverend Devlin in The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (which starts so well and then dribbles out into very little, I felt) - and note how similar that sentiment is to Penelope Fitzgerald's here.


  1. My experience of the internet has been equally positive, enabling me to discover like-minded people around the world. The trick is to avoid the comments sections of newspaper websites and YouTube, which tend to represent the worst of humanity.

    I've even crossed the line and met bloggers in the flesh. In each case, they've been remarkably similar to their online personas. It's a pity you didn't get to meet Denis, but I'm sure that the 'kindness of strangers' was a great source of solace to him, helping to alleviate the sense of isolation that illness brings.

    1. I've met tweeters but I can't think of any bloggers I've met. I'd be far more inclined to meet bloggers because you get to know them pretty well, whereas Tweets are a bit short - although some people I know reckon Twitter exposes really clearly the kind of person you are. I know you didn't mean it that way but I think most people who regarded Denis as a friend on Twitter and via his blog didn't feel it was 'kindness of strangers' ; that is, there wasn't a pity/helpless relationship. By means of the Internet, he was back on the footing of healthy, hilarious, interested, engaged person. I think he was quite good at doling out solace as well as receiving it really, which is one of the reasons he's widely missed. He was immensely generous, encouraging people's writing and so forth. I'm beginning to think anything that takes you out among people you might not otherwise contact is cheeringly positive - I've been going round buying secondhand stuff lately or getting it off freecycle and everyone I've met in the process has been terribly nice and friendly, with one exception - a group of nuns who were surly and unhelpful and really pretty much downright rude. Odd.

  2. "That easy democratic affability that is the mark of all true aristocrats"

    Hmm. Lord Curzon, who certainly was aristocratic by most measures one can think of, was not known for democratic affability, was he?

    1. But I think that's the point - it's not enough to have the title or the blue blood; you've also got to embody the spirit of the thing. Curzon was no true aristocrat by that measure