Monday, September 14, 2009

PS Michael Wharton

For the record, I knew Michael in the last 20-odd years of his life (he was a friend of my father's) and he was most definitely not a racist or anti-semitic. What he most definitely was was a guy who disliked cant and bullshit and that, unsurprisingly, did not win him many friends. It is often fashionable to describe him as 'right-wing', but that, too, is rather far off the mark.

Oddly enough, his life-long dislike and suspicion of television now makes rather more sense to rather more people than it ever did before. He was extremely well-read and very good company. It is true that many readers of his column were hang 'em and flog 'em types, but Michael didn't share their views. He once told me that he was forever getting letters from readers who had obviously read far more into his writings than was there and thanking him for expressing a view he had not once expressed.

His was distinguished in his intellectual rigour, which was the basis of his dislike of cant and hypocrisy. He dislike modish, fashionable thought which had no basis and value except that it was what smart people were thinking this year. His dislike of phrases such as 'the international community', which he thought was meaningless, partly came down to a man growing older and being less able and prepared to accept change (from which I, who is 60 in November, am also increasingly suffering). But as far as I am concerned he was - is - spot on in highlighting the double-think of much modern life.

I am expanding this entry because I feel what I wrote above did not really do Michael justice. And I must also record that his column was always very, very funny. Ironically, in person, although he could be funny, he was, when I knew him in the last 20 years of his life, more reserved and forthcoming, and would add a comment only when he felt a comment was necessary. In this, which is a characteristic I value and enjoy in others, he was very different from many hacks who insist, at your peril, of being the life and soul of the party. Another phrase for such types is 'pain in the arse'.

1 comment:

  1. Have a great holiday, enjoy, relax...have a drink for me.
    Ps. my brothers name is Michael Wharton, last of the male
    name sake in our family my father is G W (George William)
    Wharton, as always, we have more in common than i imaged.
    Ps..s. I got engaged a few months ago.
    Best to you
    kate

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