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Showing posts with label Baron Munchausen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baron Munchausen. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Samuel Johnson: a corrective

More views of - or after - Cambridge Film Festival 2011
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

21 December

Beckettt was bothered enough about Johnson early on to attempt a play about him, which I dread admitting not to have read yet, and we all know his assertion that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.

Shame, then, that we believe all the media-hype about him (a certain Mr Boswell, amongst others), and that his own grandiose claims were credited: talk about Baron Munchausen, but, if the chief medical officer saw details of his daily alcoholic consumption, we'd have none of this not exceeding 3 to 4 units per day regularly! (Not to mention Falstaff, and his commending of sack.)

For the truth is that he had quite a small life - leaving apart the life of the mind, with its fictitious Mrs Thrales - and hardly stepped out of the post office that he ran in Leeds (forget all that nonsense about Ludlow and the like, for our Sam - a kinship of Sams (nat Lemuel, I saye!) with Beckettt - was a Yorkshireman born and bred). A true Walter Mitty before we had the name for him, he so believed that he lived in London and was a great man, pronouncing upon all sorts of subjects, that even people who knew that this was counterfactual were swept up by his enthusiasm.

For Johnson, like our own dear Boris, was nothing if not enthusiastic, and even once made the considerable trip to Rochester because he'd heard that there was a model-railway exhibition on: chump that he was, he had somehow caught sight of a flyer from tens of years on and not spotted that the date was way in advance of his allotted life-span! Still, he was a keen philatelist, too, and brought out a private stamp to mark the excursion, using some rather scrappy shots that he'd taken on his mobile and then smartened up in one of these fancy image-processing suites (when, of course, for the cost of the software (bundling wasn't the norm back then, and he'd had to buy it as a separate), he'd have been better off taking a decent image on a film SLR and having it put onto CD-ROM in digitized form when he had the roll developed...

Oh, and that business about the trip to the Hebrides - need I have said that Boswell's sister was one of the founders of Thomas Cook (named after a boy that she'd gone steady with because he was in the Globetrotters, and who tragically choked on a piece of basketball when some klutz mistook it for a pumpkin and made it a Thanksgiving not to be forgotten), and needed a bit of pull for the Scottish market that she thought crazy stories like Johnson dancing a jig on Rathesay might generate?

Most can probably guess the rest, but it's a bit like a meeting of the directors of a company - if they all say that it took place by approving minutes of it, who's to say otherwise (certainly not the bemused articled clerk who's had to concoct this spurious verbiage, against his better judgement)?