Fret not, patient reader, this will get all political, partisan and polemical in a paragraph or three.
However, Malcolm chooses to start in the choir stalls of St Nicholas Parish Church, Wells-next-the-Sea. Since St Nicholas spectacularly burned down, and was rebuilt in later Victorian times, it held no exotic distractions such as the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Hugo van der Goes (above).
In St Nicholas, he half-attended to well-meaning sermons, and developed a taste for the rituals of the Church of England. That didn’t prevent him becoming progressively agnostic over the years. Since the Church of England, and to almost the same extent the Church of Ireland, makes no great demands on its adherents, there’s plenty of time and scope to reflect on ecclesiastical architecture, and the sinuous prose of the 1662 prayer book. And to half-attend to well-meant sermons.
Out of all that evolves a Self-Correcting Internalised Guilt Mechanism (hereinafter, and above, S-CIGM).
In extreme cases (and Malcolm is sociopathic) that also requires taking the faults of the wider world upon one’s self. The evils of the divisive capitalist society have to be confronted, and corrected by continued engagement with The Guardian and Tribune Magazine, as well as annual subscription to the Labour Party and CAMRA.
For the same reason, Malcolm each evening carried home with him personal guilt for his failures as an educator: that Tommy still couldn’t grasp the distinction of its and it’s; and Tracey, bewildered by the text of King Lear, asked “Can’t we just watch the video?”
On the other hand …
There are those at the other end of the scale, who missed out on S-CIGM. These know instinctively it is all someone else’s fault.
It’s all there In the beginning in Genesis 3, vv. 12-13. It was all her fault! It was all that damned snake’s fault!
Serial criminals lacking a S-CIGM can blame society: Well, you shouldn’t have left it lying around! and You should have stopped me earlier!
By definition politicians are serial criminals
We need not look too far for examples. As here:
Cameron left ‘exposed’ by Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has been blamed by close allies of David Cameron for failing to protect the Prime Minister from the pitfalls of creating the Leveson inquiry, according to reports. Mr Heywood has been accused of being too enthusiastic in advocating such an open inquiry.
More of that exculpation, lack of S-CIGM, serpentine seduction and passing-the-buck in today’s Times, it seems.
A cover up
Hugo van der Goes had the discreetly-positioned male hand, and the Iris flower.
A Malcolmian aside
The flower symbolism associated with the iris is faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope, valor, my compliments, promise in love, wisdom. Irises were used in Mary Gardens. The blade-shaped foliage denotes the sorrows which ‘pierced her heart.’ The iris is the emblem of both France and Florence, Italy. The fleur-de-lis, one of the most well-known of all symbols, is derived from the shape of the iris flower. The fleur-de-lis is a symbol of the royal family in France and is the state flower of Tennessee.
Political figures, finding themselves over-exposed, have their equivalent of the hand and iris — those all-purpose, faceless-but-ever-helpful “Sources close to“. These are, presumably, Self-Correcting Externalised Guilt Mechanisms [S-CEGMs, perhaps]. In the spirit of “getting the retaliation in first”, they feature heavily elsewhere, as in the Daily Mail:
A blame game has started behind the door of Number 10 Downing Street over who thought it was a good idea to set up the Leveson Inquiry, it was claimed today.
Sources close to David Cameron say his most senior civil servant is being blamed for not protecting him from the firestorm caused by the probe, despite the Prime Minister setting it up so enthusiastically less than a year ago.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has been branded not ‘cautious’ enough about the pitfalls of the Inquiry by Mr Cameron’s allies, which has since exposed how close he and his colleagues got to the Murdoch empire.