8 comments on “What a wonderful way to put it

  1. They do have a wonderful way with putting things.

    Two years later, in response to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa on the novelist Salman Rushdie, she stated: “We support Rushdie to the hilt, but there’s no point in shouting about it. It’s the madmen you’re going to stir, not the ordinary Muslims. In a way, cooling it is a good thing.”

    “We support Rushide, but…” means that everything before the but is the opposite of the truth.

    But I don’t want to be rude about her. She sounds a decent sort and a fine representative of a soon-to-be-extinct Britain. However it is hard not to be sad at this:

    In later life Josephine Pullein-Thompson lived quietly in a small terraced house in Fulham where one interviewer found that she had befriended the blackbirds in the garden. “They are very consoling,” she said.

    So as a thoroughly modern woman, she had no children and no grandchildren and so spent her last years making friends with the birds. Tragic really.

  2. “He/she never married” in a Telegraph obituary used to be code for the subject being on the other bus. Obviously, in this case, it is to be read at face value. Other examples:
    “Very sociable”: friend of the public house.
    “A stalwart colleague”: droned on about work.
    “Stimulating company”: a cunt who’d turn on you in a second.
    “Shy and retiring”: told everyone to fuck off.

  3. @smfs I don’t find it tragic and modern but inspiring and conservative. She came from a time when gels waited for chaps to ask them to marry them (see earlier thread, actually) and if the offer didn’t come they accepted it.

    The modern way would be to have five children by different men and a variety of grandchildren who treat your Fulham terrace as a safe house when on the run.

    Stiff upper lipped heroism of the highest order I suspect.

  4. Interested – “She came from a time when gels waited for chaps to ask them to marry them (see earlier thread, actually) and if the offer didn’t come they accepted it. … Stiff upper lipped heroism of the highest order I suspect.”

    She might have been heroic. But given she paid the price of being married – down to caring for her man until he died – but reaped none of the long term benefits, I wonder about that. Let us agree her chap got a good deal here. Perhaps she should have held out. Perhaps her values were a little distorted. Hard to say. I will agree it is better for society as a whole that she did not gift the world a brace of ferals.

  5. Redacto: I once recall an article in the FT in which a CEO was described (several times in the same article) as having “resigned voluntarily”. The use of the word “resigned” to mean “was sacked” in such articles was so well ingrained that in the quite rare event that someone had actually resigned, this had to be pointed out repeatedly, or everyone would think he had been sacked.

  6. @smfs it’s a sad view of the world that assumes she got nothing out of the arrangement. Only she can say whether he got the better end of the deal, and since she’s no longer with us I suppose we’re left to rely on our own prejudices. Heroic may have been a bad choice of word; stoic might have been better, or even just ‘happy with her lot’.

  7. It is nigh inevitable that in any marriage/ partnership – one will die before the other. ‘Paying the price’ is just being bitter for its own sake.
    Dont forget – someone has to do the cooking / cleaning/ shopping etc. And that is not always the female.
    As it so happens I do the washing up – so exploitation – after fifty years of marriage.
    Just you wait.

  8. Interested – “it’s a sad view of the world that assumes she got nothing out of the arrangement. Only she can say whether he got the better end of the deal, and since she’s no longer with us I suppose we’re left to rely on our own prejudices.”

    Well I do have a sad view of the world. Cannot be denied. But I did not say she got nothing out of it. We don’t know what she got out of it but at the start it was good enough for her to sign up and it remained good enough to stick with him to the end. But it also left her talking to the birds for company. If she had made a fully informed decision at the start, that is if she had known how she would have ended up, would she have made the same choice? I don’t know. I do know a reasonable number of women who made the same choice to marry someone older, richer and more exciting – and of course not interested in a second family. Which they quite clearly regret now they are alone. If financially secure.

    “Heroic may have been a bad choice of word; stoic might have been better, or even just ‘happy with her lot’.”

    I would think stoic is probably appropriate. I am not sure anyone reduced to talking to birds for company is happy. She may have been, but I don’t think it likely.

    john malpas – “It is nigh inevitable that in any marriage/ partnership – one will die before the other. ‘Paying the price’ is just being bitter for its own sake.”

    It is. And we prepare for this. Men work hard and save up a decent pension even though everyone knows they will not line to use it. Their wife will. Marriage does have costs and benefits. She did pay a price for that relationship even if it was only all the other men she did not have. It seems more appropriate than bitter to me.

    The other way we prepare for it, apart from saving up for the wife’s old age, is grandchildren. Family life. So someone does not spend their last years so lonely they have to talk to the birds. Or get cats. Or write for the Guardian. Whatever. She did not get that. Maybe she did not want that. I still think we have some warped values in modern society that does not properly prepare people for their deaths and give them pause to think about what will be important to them when they are old.

    “Dont forget – someone has to do the cooking / cleaning/ shopping etc. And that is not always the female.”

    Not sure what this has to do with it as we don’t know who did it in their household. I guess she did, but I don’t see that as a cost myself.

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