Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The prose is purpler than the sword

Matthew Norman used to be a good diary columnist on the Guardian, inventive and cheeky yet understated. He’s also said to be (I wouldn’t know) a decent restaurant reviewer for various publications. But as a Serious Political Commentator at the Independent, he’s trying to do a very different kind of writing, and the results are perhaps not so good.

Here’s a digest of his latest column, on Tony Blair and the Chilcot inquiry:

feverishly awaited appearance … fresh revelatory nuggets … a vicious little irony … an indecently cute vignette of a warped morality … elite corps of commentators … heroic armchair warriors … cabal of staunch loyalists … Pinochet-type indignity … Olympian arrogance … soul-crushing futility … insouciant unconcern … Petit bourgeois notions such as international law … forever be eagles pecking at his liver … staggeringly defiant attitude … impossible to quantify, but it must be many millions … loyal to his own avarice … tosses and turns in the desolate small hours … the sunken eyes and haunted expression betray his fear of arrest … a demigod whose stature far transcends the insolent judgments of mankind … an outcast in his own land.

This is slightly unfair of me. You could probably create an edited torrent of bilge out of the work of many newspaper columnists, or plenty of Blair’s speeches, or maybe even some of my own writing. Actually, no, I don’t think I’m quite that bad. Not usually, anyway.

But you get the flavour of Norman’s piece. The thrust of the argument seems to be: (a) I can write all fancy; and (b) contrary to all available evidence, Tony Blair really does care that people like me hate him.

Ah well. I’d guess the man knows his readership.

1 comment:

Bob-B said...

Maybe Mr Norman could find the time to explain how it would be a good thing if Saddam and Chemical Ali were still running Iraq, as they would be if Blair and Bush had complied with the wishes of people like him.