Wednesday, July 18, 2012

divided by a common language

It was playwright George Bernard Shaw who (together alternatively with Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill) was alleged to have said, "England and America are two countries divided by a common language."

It's one of those wish-I'd-said-that witticisms that popped into my mind last night when watching British MP's grilling the security firm chairman who had gotten an enormously lucrative contract to provide security for the upcoming Olympic Games and failed miserably to meet the personnel requirements.

The link provided above hardly begins to capture the BBC's television report, which was rife with decorous and chivalrous questions and articulations that made it perfectly plain that the politicians thought this fellow was nothing short of what an American might sum up, simply, as a greedy asshole.

On the one hand, I am insanely jealous of the Oxbridge-educated abilities to slice and dice the object of opprobrium before he even realizes he has been skewered. It's just so damned delicious and so damned elegant. On the other hand, as with the indirections of the Japanese, I am wary-wary-wary of an elegance that stoppers the honesty that would say shit with its mouthful.

No saying you can't do both or either, of course, but for me it feels in some way paradoxical or at war: The perfectly-aimed rapier and the 16-pound sledge hammer.

Divided by a common language ....

Oh well.

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