Wednesday, April 06, 2005

You Can Stop Gathering Now

A reference there to Larry Wachtel, the financial market commentary provider employed by Wachovia Securities, but most famous for his slots on 1010WINS radio in the morning. Larry will read out the closing prices, as well as whichever company is reporting its results today, and then read out the birthday of someone famous who was getting on a bit, and intone "gather ye rosebuds..."

The effect is delightfully sinister, as if only Larry is aware of the march of time. Rather like the recent idiotic panderings to the extreme right by Tom DeLay (The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior"), and John Cornyn, who essentially said, "I won't be doing any judge killing, but they are really annoying, aren't they? Hint, hint."

The ultimate analogy is probably the "who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" line from top really-French-but-best-known-as-king-of-England monarch Henry II. Henry, getting particularly irritated by some ultramontane line-calls by his main priest, just sort of mused aloud about the Archbishop of Canterbury being chopped up in front of some likely choppers. Henry was, ultimately, sorry about what he said, and paid penance, in part because the Pope told him to.

Which brings our digression to a neat end, since we can now commence our Death Roundup, with the Bishop of Rome at number 1. Not that we have too much to say about the Papa's passing, what with being an atheist, raised, as all the best ones are, within the bosom of the established Church of England. He was evidently much more popular with those that didn't have to do as he ordered than with many of those that did. He was meant to be rather ornery, but that aside, playing what if games with some of his social stances can completely redraw the demography of the known world.

Number two is Saul Bellow, by whom we have not read anywhere near enough (our sum total is, we think, The Actual) to commment in detail. We did one day want to ask why both he and Philip Roth were so anxious to fit their narrators with incontinence pants, but such musings should be unfit for a day like this, or they would be if we had something genuinely erudite to say about him.

Number three, though is Prince Rainier, the top Pinochet-impersonator-and-overlord-of-anachronistic-statelet who ruled Monaco with an orange fist until yesterday. By all accounts Rainier was a personally dignified man who fought well against the Nazis. The problem we have is that his desperate attempts to maintain a viable state in Monaco tarnished the country, the dynasty, and even monarchy to an alarming degree.

A largely irrelevant backwater and plaything of the Grimaldi family, Rainier decided that the key to Monaco's greatness after the war was making it a suitable location for all the things that modern social democracies were a little more fastidious about. So he made it a haven for tax avoiders, B-list celebrities and Formula One. Grace Kelly and glamour made it a kind of St Tropez for the bronzed fifty-something, and probably condemned his children to tabloid hell. Rainier, more than any other monarch, caused the Hello!-isation of European monarchy. Elizabeth may have only just have inherited her position as Europe's longest-serving monarch from him, but she's been dealing with other, more poisonous, legacies for some years now.

There is also, of course, the truly wretched World Music Awards, which festered mightily among the Monegasques, and worked out a way to reward the musicians that sold records, rather than produced music of worth. But we spent good money and rare electrostim therapy removing the images from our brain. Let us just say that previous winner Roxette is probably inconsolable, if, as is possible, Prince Albert now has to devote his energies to running the mini-state rather than providing artistic cover to cheese-pop mongers. And top patron-of-Scunthorpe-chicken-processors 50 Cent scored big in 2003, while bringing hackery in rap to new depths.

Gringcorp is going to hell for stealing the CofE's bandwidth, and for getting confirmed despite not believing in God


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