Category Archives: Shakespeare

Ambitions, Hopes and Plotting

I am being quiet now. The door is closed and the traffic a distant murmer. At last the children are asleep in a world strictly of their their own making. I would like to sit on the patio with a extremely good malt whisky but there I would see the lights of my neighbours kitchens and their voices raised across the privet screens: laughter sometimes and  cries of minor despair.  I retire to my study and shut out the world behind my door.

You will be wondering what this about, this silence of mine, but bear with me. Think about silence. It is not the mere absence of sound although God only knows how valuable that can be. Quietism, a medaeval tradition lingering on in Quakerism,  is more than that: it is melancholy, devotional and inspiring. If you stay very still, very quiet, you will enter another space another time.Yes, get on with it, I hear you say. What has this to do with anything?

I don’t have to tell you that the last three months have been unbelievable – to everyone but me. Overnight it seemed I emerged as a person with celebrity status. My high hopes were dashed by a poor election result but I emerged, I survived, to sit at the Cabinet table among friends and enemies. At this moment, this precise moment, I have power and influence – and high hopes. I am realistic enough to know that all my aspirations could be dashed; power and influence could be swept away by an enraged electorate; my good friend Dave might abandon me for  reasons of his own; my party members could turn away in disgust and despair. All these things could happen – they might well do so. But somehow, I believe most sincerely, I can survive dark times. We Lib Dems are well versed in them. I truly believe that I shall be at this oval table for many years. And why not a situation where all eyes turn towards me? I believe it could happen. With my closest friends and more realistic colleagues I could preside over everything, everyone.

It would not be right for me to aspire to greatness unless I deserved it. Of course, I do. As I listen to my colleagues I do not find anyone more intellectually gifted than me, more ambitous than myself. But I must be prepared. What better way is there than to strengthen my resolve, ‘summon up the blood’ and identify the pathways to greatness. Shakespeare always has a phrase for it, don’t you think? (But no jokes please about tragical-comedies or comical-tragedies. You lot can never be serious enough.)

You may think that these are the rambling thoughts of a fantasist. You do, don’t you? I can see it in your eyes. Look at this way. infidel, if we jogged back six months and I had described the political scene we have now, would you have believed it possible? Of course not.  Dream on, you would have said. Well, I did dream on, and look what happened. I’m dreaming on again, here in my study, gathering my strength, assessing the strategies I might pursue, choosing my friends, identifying my enemies. I have come a long way and I have along way left to travel (I usually think of Robert Frost at this moment. Do you know it? Oh well that is a pleasure yet to come for you.) but I shall get there never fear. Check with me in six months time.


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Cameron, Inexperience or Character?

High Office can be very cruel to a man. Shakespeare has shown us something of what can happen. He presents a mighty figure new to his task. As you look, a small crack can be seen in the edifice and under the pressure of high office one can see it widen until suddenly it splits asunder.

Are we witnessing this coming apart already in David Cameron? I do not suppose Cameron will repeat the mistakes of seeking to curry favour with some countries by insulting their ‘enemies’ and neighbours in public. At least not in the exactly same way. We shall write that down to learning from experience and the influence of others. But he will continue to be himself and he has told us so. Many hundreds of thousands of people will have seen the complicated expressions on David Cameron’s face when qustioned by journalists on his recent gaffes in Turkey and India: puzzlement, obstinacy and a degree of stupidity. After all when he shouted crude insults at Gordon Brown (of beloved memory) across the floor of the House of Commons people laughed and cheered. There must have been many similar moments in the Eton and Oxford debating societies: no one objected there. So why do they object in Pakistan and Israel?

This whole business of exposing oneself in public is fraught with difficulty. At first the crowd is amused and taken-in by one’s idiosyncracies and there is a welcome in the novellty of it (sorry, Gordon)  but then the mood changes as we quickly  grow critical and bored with the constant exposure. We try to modify what we do. It makes things worse. Have you noticed a change in our Dave’s intonation? His speech pattern has been altered. He has always , of course, spoken very quickly, as a child speaks and  as politicians do, in order to get his point in and evade critical questioning, but now he shouts. Quite suddenly in a speech he seems to take a breath and bellows. You think I exagerate?  Listen and make up your own mind. Our Dave is weak on detail. Harriet Harmon has revealed this for us. In the Commons she has sought policy detail from Dave on numerous occasions. He doesn’t answer. He does not know. In a debating society it is not desperately important to know what you are talking about. Succeeding is a matter of style, wit and combativeness. Dave certainly has what it takes to be popular and thus successful there. But in a wider world where most of what occurs is not of your making and liking. It is a question mark. Will we see the public edifice crumble  piece by piece over the coming months?


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