Wednesday, 27 July 2011


I have just been listening to a fascinating BBC Radio 4* programme about 18c riots. I was reminded of two quotations which I'm going to give you below. I juxtapose them because one could be a retort to the other. The first is from Tory politician Norman Tebbit. During his active career in the House of Commons Tebbit showed himself to be a rare character - working class and right wing - sometimes with a dry and challenging wit, sometimes with a breathtakingly reactionary insensitivity. I shall never forget his words when in 1984 he was being stretchered away from the Grand Hotel in Brighton when it had been the target of an IRA bomb. He was asked by a medic if he was allergic to anything. "Yes," he said. "Being blown up!" The second quotation is from BBC TV's Steptoe and Son, and is Harry H Corbett in the persona of Harold Steptoe speaking to his father Albert (Wilfrid Brambell) with whom he has a love/hate relationship and many political differences:

"I grew up in the 1930s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and kept on looking until he found it."

"You're a dyed-in-the-wool, fascist, reactionary, squalid, little, 'know-your-place', 'don't-rise-above-yourself', 'don't-get-out-of-your-hole', complacent. little turd!"


* Oh dear, how middle-class of me!

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