Sometime in the twentieth century a wordsmith generated the phrase “love-hate relationship”, and doubtless felt smug about such originality.
Pity: the Roman poet Catullus (and even he was borrowing a concept from the Greek poet Anacron, five centuries earlier still) got there two millenia previously:
Odi et amo. Quare id faciam fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio, et excrucior.
That generally translates as something along the lines of “I Hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why that is so. I don’t know, and that’s why I am tormented.”
Catullus was lamenting his feeling for “Lesbia”, who was Clodia, an original merry widow, who shared her favours too promiscuously for Catullus’s peace of mind.
Clodia is just the kind of gal who would get frequent mentions in the Daily Mail. The paper prides itself, with some justice, in being a “mid-market” tabloid: decently up the market from the red tops, but not as demanding as the “qualities”. The Mail’s success is to have consigned the Express to near oblivion, and requiring the Telegraph‘s pale imitation.
The Mail consistently delivers a curious and toxic admixture of sensation and shock-horror. It provides “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” with an ambiguous daily dose of provocation and empathy, of titillation and disapproval.
Same old bag
A prime example was yesterday’s piece, credited to (better believe it) Gerri Peev:
For the MPs gathered in the Commons to debate the possibly rather dry subject of the Energy Bill, it was an unexpected interruption.
One minute Louise Bagshawe, a newly-elected Tory and ‘Cameron cutie’, was discussing solar batteries.
The next she was happily plugging her new novel Passion, written as part of her other career as a successful author of ‘chick-lit’ fiction.
The 39-year-old mother of three told MPs to buy her book, which, she reminded them, had just won a literary award for romantic fiction.
We are then treated to a short and sweaty extract from the said “novel”. Nobody should feel obliged to read Ms Bagshawe: Malcolm never has. He is prepared to believe John Crace’s parody adequately gets the flavour.
Ms Bagshawe is in the Commons in large part (as suggested above) because she was and is Dave Cameron’s sort of person: flashy, superficial, and ornamental.
So, despite any distaste Ms Bagshawe may provoke, criticism within the Tory Party will be quelled by another thought.
Disapproval of metrosexual “smartness” is likely to have one rusticated to join the Turnip Taliban.
So sit on your hands. Bite your tongue. Bide your time.
Similarly, Catullus despaired at the condition of contemporary Roman politics in Carmina 52:
Quid est, Catulle? quid moraris emori?
sella in curuli struma Nonius sedet,
per consulatum peierat Vatinius:
quid est, Catulle? quid moraris emori?
[What’s up, Catullus? Why not just roll over and die?
That pustule Nonius sits in a magistrate’s chair,
Vatinius perjures to get to be consul:
What’s up, Catullus? Why not just roll over and die?]
Malcolm acknowledges the Lady in His Life as the immediate source of the Daily Mail story, above.