Groping For The Truth

The past is a foreign country and they behave very badly there, not like you and me at all. However, after hearing Oscar winning actor/director Kevin Spacey’s abject remorse for an alleged incident in 1986 which he cannot remember, I was painfully reminded of an event which may have happened to me at sometime or other, when I reached out and squeezed the well formed buttock of a young man standing up addressing a table of well oiled journalists in a bar somewhere under Kensington.

He was good looking and very young. I wasn’t sure whether I liked him but I did fancy seeing how he would react. He ignored it, finished his speech and sat down. Neither of us said anything about it. He behaved with the same insouciance as a Scottish piper I saw in a pub in Soho late one Burn’s Night long ago whose kilt I lifted to have an investigative look. I was shocked at what I saw, but that is beside the point as I now realise that I assaulted both those men. Worse they could have been underage. It’s not easy to tell with Scotsmen. That is my only defence.

Then there was the time that I slept with the wrong person. He was not the man I thought he was. Lots of women say that, but this time it was true; I returned from a party in downtown Katowice, Poland, where I then lived, went to bed and someone got in with me. I didn’t object as I believed it was a man I’d found attractive a few hours earlier. In the cold sodden morning light I realised he was not that man, in fact he was a local miner, not a minor, thank God. I don’t think he ever knew that I’d been so mistaken about his identity. He would raise his cap whenever he saw me on the tram. Thinking about it now, perhaps he assaulted me.

I probably won’t be getting a solicitor’s letter from him but I am not sure about the chap giving the speech. He might even now be on his way to a solicitor to report that he felt so humiliated by my ‘inappropriate’ gesture that he was unable to take up public speaking and fulfil his ambition to become Prime Minister. That my grope led to his later alcoholism and the breakdown of several marriages and removal of his children.

My only consolation is that if it goes to court, I do not have a KBE, film company, TV series or a constituency to lose. Even better I have no employer to sack me. I will not be joining the increasing line of those disgraced beyond redemption by accusations which could be anything from a hand on the knee in a taxi, ‘Wandering Hand Syndrome’ (WHS), to rape. Although joining those testosterone fuelled Alpha males culled from show biz and politics on both sides of the Atlantic might not be too bad; like many women from the Ancien Regime, before America and its British poodle put on the full Puritan, I have always liked a saucy scamp.

I can’t say I’d go for Weinstein, Rolf Harris or Max Clifford, and I’d have nothing much to say to Jared O’Mara, but I don’t mind the idea of a quick canoodle with the Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt, sacked by UCL in 2015 for making a joke about love in Labs. I am also partial to Michael Gove and Neil Kinnock, who just missed being sent to the legion of the damned for making jokes about Weinstein on the Today programme.

In fact I only really get attracted to men who make jokes and it is only a matter of time before repartee, now known by the derogatory term, ‘banter,’ will disappear. Wit and irony, usually the preserve of men, has never been well understood in America from where we now take all our social mores and infuriates feminists and victim groups.

We are now approaching a decidedly post-scamp age. Flirting, from a compliment in the lift, to a sly wink at an office party, are as over and gone as the elderly Colonel who turned up at my primary school every week to let us pet his dog.

‘He loves small children,’ the teachers told us approvingly.

Innocent gestures and tentative moves are now termed sexual harassment and even assault. Sexual activity has been bureaucratised. Yvette Cooper MP says there is a ‘need for expertise’ to deal with the problem of wandering hands. She wants ‘reforms to the process,’ and the creation of ‘support teams,’ on alert in Parliament and an, ‘Independent sexual advisor in every work place, to report to.’ With touching idealism she also recommends that women turn to their Trades Unions for help.

For some reason the state is beginning to see sexual behaviour as a bigger threat than terrorism. Five years ago ‘Stalking,’ what my parent’s might have called, ‘mooning after someone,’ became a criminal offence. This covers activity from standing outside a loved one’s door looking up at their window, or balcony in the case of Romeo, to sending thousands of abusive texts. Legislation is now framed in a panic which excludes nuance. Even the BBC’s Laura Kuenessberg, who quite subjectively praised the ‘courage’ of a woman claiming to have been raped, has commented on the amount of Parliamentary time being spent on rooting out men guilty of ‘inappropriate behaviour.’

As a detached onlooker to Hollywood and Westminster, I have to ask; didn’t the young man momentarily flattened under a drunken Kevin Spacey three decades ago get up and leave the room unscathed? Didn’t the knees of both Miss Hartley Brewer and feminist writer Kate Maltby recover without too much damage? Even more baffling is the way men accused of sexual misconduct, often years after the alleged event, with no hard evidence possible against them, slink quietly away to the current version of Room 101. They do this even if they’ve only been accused of making an unsavoury remark or foolish joke, as if that is now tantamount to a physical assault. So far, only Damian Green MP has show any sign of resisting this bullying and the new insidious culture of blackmail by ‘witnesses.’

However, escape from all this confusion is on its way; winter draws on as lewd non PC comedians used to say. In a few weeks time the panic about flirtatious texts and WHT will be replaced by flat out national alarm at the amount of snow falling on our roads.

Perhaps the questions we should be asking are about how witness memory came to be valued above cold facts and why in this most comfortable and safe of times, the public needs to be kept in a state of perpetual excitement and anxiety. Crack those two and we can all sleep easily in our beds again, and sometimes in other people’s.© The Salisbury Review.










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13 Comments on Groping For The Truth

  1. “… and why in this most comfortable and safe of times, the public needs to be kept in a state of perpetual excitement and anxiety…”

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
    H. L. Mencken

    • BALTIMORE — The previously secret diary of writer and social critic H. L. Mencken discloses virulent anti-Semitism, racism and pro-Nazi leanings, shocking even the sympathetic Mencken scholar who edited it.

      On Mencken’s instructions, the diary, typewritten on 2,100 pages from 1930 to 1948, remained sealed for 25 years after his death in 1956. The Baltimore Evening Sun, where Mencken once worked, published excerpts Monday. The diary has been available to scholars since 1981, but quoting either directly or indirectly from the 2,100-page document was prohibited.

      On the subject of Jews, Mencken wrote in December, 1943, that the Maryland Club had decided against admitting any more Jewish members after the only one on its rolls died. “There is no other Jew in Baltimore who seems suitable,” he said.

      Of blacks, he wrote in September, 1943, that ” . . . it is impossible to talk anything resembling discretion or judgment to a colored woman. They are all essentially child-like, and even hard experience does not teach them anything.”

      On Oct. 24, 1945, he wrote that “the course of the United States in World War II . . . was dishonest, dishonorable and ignominious, and the Sunpapers, in supporting (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt’s foreign policy, shared in this disgrace.”

      Which (alluding to your quote) only proves that even vain *intellectuals* such as HLM can say ignorant things. Mencken does grace my bookshelf. Yours?

      • Breaking news: Right-wing author wrote some right-wing stuff in his diary!

        In other news: Reactionary woodland bears fail to make use of expensive new gender-neutral lavatory facilities!

      • It always surprises me to find apparently educated people parroting Wikipedia prejudice as though it were some kind of revelation.

        Every age has its stereotypes and attitudes, and the vast majority of Mencken’s contemporaries would have agreed with every word above – indeed, they would have seen nothing unusual in them. That goes for both left and right-wing politicians, as well as the vast mass of the population.

        We have our own failings and bigotry – indeed, our situation is worse because we ought to know better.

        Future historians will hold their hand up in amazement that we claimed that there was no white person in London who could be suitable to hold a fire enquiry where black people were killed, of that the lower classes from the North of England are mainly uneducated racist bigots who should not have been allowed to vote on Brexit, and that the old should be deprived of votes because they had less future than the young. All these are current attitudes which cause less public comment than the suggestion that a student could wear a sombrero to a college party. I think that the accepted public attitudes in Mencken’s time were far less bigoted, evil and oppressive than our own.

        Quite why you offer a cite that the US government behaved dishonestly in WW2 as an example of pro-Nazi leanings I have no idea. I suspect that you just copied and pasted without thinking what you were doing. To view the other side of the story I suggest you read this reference, which puts rather a different light on all your comments:

  2. A journo from the Guardian refused to report on an Imam who sexually abused me for 10 years, despite my having proof of his admitting it/begging my forgiveness, and having given police a 16-page statement.

    And here all these people, who haven’t even gone to police, are given a voice and automatically believed?

    This is the decidedly comic mass display of white privilege

    • I suspect The Guardian were simply reluctant (afraid?) of taking on an Imam. Let’s not forget the reluctance shown to believe, let alone support, the white girls preyed upon by gangs of Muslim men, the length and breadth of the country.

    • I don’t think it’s a question of “white privilege”. Some of the complainants are non-white.

      In your case, it’s more a question of “Imam privilege”. The Guardian is the last newspaper to approach if you want to criticise a Mahometan cleric. The Daily Mail (idiotic, hypocritical and pornographic though it is) would be a better bet.

      • .. The Daily Mail (idiotic, hypocritical and pornographic though it is) would be a better bet….

        The Guardian is equally idiotic, more hypocritical, and prefers to publish climate porn to that of the sexual variety. I can’t see that there’s much to chose between them…

  3. Having a lawyer appear in that sketch misses the point entirely. The novel problem obtaining now is that the offended are not resorting to the law but instead appealing to an entirely fabricated and artificial “moral” outrage to punish alleged offenders. Breaches of the law have precious little to do with this because the law simply does not recognise these allegations as criminal offences.