Friday, November 13, 2009

PS to 'Isn't noise great?'

Yesterday, I heard a Radio 4 programme by Alastair Campbell waxing lyrical about Jacques Brel. I don't speak French, and although I know Brel's songs are something of an institution in France, it is one form of 'noise' which has never really rattled my cage. There were contributions from a range of French folk who had known Brel, man of whom had worked with him, and they all remembered him with affection. Many commented on his double life: rather conservative and upright paterfamilias in Belgium, where his wife and children lived, and principal shagger about town when living and working in Paris. Fair enough, and it was his many affairs which fueled his romantic songs. But one observation, repeated by several contributors, rather struck me: for all his charm and 'niceness' - 'nice' was one word used to describe Brel - he was 'harsh with his kids'. And that, curiously, makes it very easy for me almost to rule the chap out of court. I say 'almost' because I really can't know the ins and outs of his relationship with his wife and there might be circumstances which justify his 'harshness' although I can't imagine what they might be. But on the face of it, I am not a fan of anyone who is 'harsh' with his or her children, especially when they are young and especially when, otherwise, he finds he makes an effort to charm the pants off the world. Sounds a bit like a self-centred cunt to me.

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