Published on September 19, 2014
2 3 Looking at William Horman’s most famous aphorism, one cannot really but agree with it. And, at the risk of sounding like a completely miserable old git, I would like to ponder the subject for a few minutes. As regular readers of this magazine will, I am sure, be aware there are quite a few of the artistes whom we cover within these hallowed pages who are amongst the nicest people who I have ever met and several of them have become personal friends of ours. Others, even though we have never met in the flesh, have also become friends and have always treated me and my colleagues on The Gonzo Weekly with nothing but kindness and respect. I would like to stress, and stress IN CAPITAL LETTERS, that they are the vast majority of people with whom we have dealt over the last 95 weeks. A small minority, however, have been officious, rude, and even downright nasty, and in all ways the opposite of what William Horman wrote. There is an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart wins a elephant in a radio station competition. The elephant, when finally re-homed in a wildlife park, turns out to be both vicious and intractable. The wildlife park ranger explains to Bart that elephants are like people – some are just idiots. This could well be the explanation for the fact that a small minority of musicians with whom we have dealt and their assorted hangers-on have behaved so unpleasantly towards us. But I think it is more complicated than this. Up until the mid-1950s musicians were merely people who played musical instruments for a living. However, with the advent of the star system, some musicians achieve high and higher status in the eyes of the general public; something which probably reached its apogee when Timothy Leary described The Beatles as “the wisest, holiest, most effective avatars the human race has ever produced.” Not bad for four lads from Liverpool, eh? Like all journalists I have occasionally indulged in hyperbole. But even I have never gone so far as to equate four pop musicians with the likes of Jesus, Buddha, or Confucius. Personally, although I have the regard for all four of The Beatles, I think that was a ridiculous thing to say, and – if anything – it actually denigrates both the importance of the band, and the fallibility of Leary’s prose. But we are left with a socio-cultural situation where several successive generations of people for whom the only thing that marked them out from the rest of what Karl Marx called the lumpenproletariat was the fact that they were quite good looking and could play a musical instrument to a greater or lesser extent, have been elevated to the status of demi-gods and have started to believe their own press. 4 But I don’t think I have ever found myself in such a state of editorial indeterminacy as I am with this present issue. My step-daughter is due to give birth in the next few days and so I am going to be hightailing it to Norfolk as quickly as I can as soon as I receive the phone call telling us that she is in labour. As I am sure you are aware babies are not an exact science and although she is due to give birth on Sunday, it could be any time in the next fortnight. Another imponderable is that we won’t know until it happens what, if anything, she wants her mother to do, so I have no idea when we are going or when we will be back. Not having any biological children of my own (that I am aware), or any sisters, this is actually the first time I have experienced the miracle of childbirth firsthand. My brother and his wife have four children but they were born in Germany, two of them whilst I was in America, and I was only three years old when my little brother was born, and so was not really able to have any proper perspective upon the proceedings. However, the events happening on my life at the moment have made me ponder more than usual upon the vagaries of the human condition. William Horman (c. 1440 – April 1535) was a headmaster at Eton and Winchester in the early Tudor period of English history. He is best known for his Latin grammar textbook the Vulgaria, which created controversy at the time due to its unconventional approach in first giving examples of translations of English writings on different topics, and later discussing the rules of grammar. He asserted, probably following Quintilian, that grammar cannot be perfect without music. Probably his most oft quoted aphorism is “manners maketh man,” although he is also credited as being the first person to use the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention,” in the English language. So he is directly responsible for the most publicly recognised of Frank Zappa’s work, but - as I often do – I am digressing. My Father was very fond of over quoting “manners maketh man”, usually when I had done something heinous in his eyes which was probably perfectly normal for a schoolboy in the 1970s. So having had that proverb rammed down my throat as a child I am not very fond of it. But, recently, I have begun pondering it again. Now I am in the second half of my middle age I find myself becoming more like my Father than I feel comfortable, and even though he was even more of a psychotic old sod than I am I think that much of what he said had validity, even though the way that he said it could, with hindsight, have been done more tactfully.